Vicia faba - 35 seeds
Broad beans are a very hardy and reliable crop to grow. Most broad bean varieties are planted in the spring but some, like Super Aquadulce, can be planted straight into the ground in October and November. This gives them an advantageous start over spring planted ones and gives you an earlier crop.
The plants will grow to about 90 cm, sometimes multi-branching. The leaves are a large lobe shape of a greyish-green. The white and black flowers appear late spring. Get down and give them a sniff, they are very fragrant!
Pollinated by bees and other insects the flowers give way to bright green pods. Broad beans can be white or green seeded.
Ratio is a very high-yielding variety. It has a fairly short, multi-branched habit, producing several stems which increases yield and resists falling over. Slightly greater spacings between plants are recommended.
How to grow:
Sow seed direct in the ground from mid-March to May (can be sown mid Feb with protection), Sow in double rows at least 30 cm apart and if planting more than one double row allow a metre between them.
The easiest way is to dig a shallow trench just 5-10 cm deep and lay the beans in a zigzag about 10 cm between the seeds. Do your double row 30 cm away and cover the seed with soil.
Put some stakes in at the end of the rows and use these to tie biodegradable string around to support them as they grow.
Harvest from June onwards when you can feel the beans are a decent size in the pods.
Pests and diseases
Broad beans do attract black aphids. You can get rid of them by picking out the tips of mature plants where they congregate but we tend not to worry about them and hope they in turn attract ladybirds and their larvae.
Broad beans can also get chocolate spot.
Seeds and seedlings can be damaged by mice. If this is likely to be a problem, start your seeds off in pots and plant out.