Our featured vegetable of the month this month is broad beans. Broad beans were the star of one of the first videos we ever made at our Growing in Harmony site back in December 2019 and we still love them now. You can find that video here on our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsP_bk3Q7e8
As well as being a lovely and easy vegetable to grow, broad beans are also a great plant to save seeds from. Just harvest the beans as you would normally, leave them to dry in the pods and keep them in an envelope or a tub until it's time to sow again for the next season, not forgetting to label your saved seeds so you know what you're growing next year. Saving seeds is a great way to make your gardening more sustainable as your own seeds don't have to travel to reach you and although some plants are trickier than others to save seed from, broad beans are among the easiest. The variety we grow is called Karmazyn, they're a rare heritage variety that we've been growing for ten years without fail.
We've sown our beans in pots earlier in the year and are now planting them out as established plants but if you want to grow some yourself, it's not too late to sow them now for a later harvest. Broad beans can be sown any time from autumn onwards and grown through the winter for an early harvest. If you're sowing directly into the ground seeds need to be about 20cm apart and 5cm deep. The plants don't need a lot of water except during long droughts so they are easy to look after.
Nutritionally, broad beans are high in protein and fibre as well as iron, vitamin B9 and vitamin C, making them good for preventing anaemia, supporting the immune system and reducing the risk of cancer. The manganese in broad beans helps to prevent osteoporosis too.
They're easy to prepare and to store, they can be frozen and added to stews, curries and soups. One of our favourite ways to prepare them is to make broad bean hummous, which is much more of a native food for us in the UK than the chickpea equivalent that we all know and love.
If you fancy giving it a try, here's a recipe we love https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/broad-bean-houmous/