Broad Bean – Field Bean Wizard

Field beans are usually sown by farmers as a winter green manure crop to provide stability for the soil and be a source of nitrogen and organic matter for the year ahead. They aren’t normally thought of for their culinary ability but this little beans might surprise you. If left to mature field bean Wizard produces tonnes of tiny sweet and tender little beans and the plants are tough, hardy little beans which managed to survive the Beast from the East and also remained almost untouched by black fly.

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Growing

Field beans are designed to be sown in the autumn (october) and will crop in May.  Broad bean Aquadulce Claudia can also be sown in autumn. The other broad beans should be sown successionally in two-week intervals between February (under cover), March and April.

Sow bean seeds 5 cm deep and 15cm (dwarf varieties) to 20cm (tall apart) in 2 rows, 20 cm apart. Space each double row 60 cm away from each other. Sow extras at the end to replace any gaps. Alternatively you can sow in root training modules and plant out, after hardening off for a week when the beans have reached a couple of inches high.

Tall varieties will need support which is usually done by staking every 1.5m along the row and stringing two wires, one at 30cm height, the other 60 cm height. Repeat on the other side of the double row. Field beans and dwarf beans should not need support.

If you are sowing in modules and transplanting out then water in transplants well and keep well watered for the next two weeks. After that only water plants when they being to flower and then water well as beans start to set in the pods. Other than that they should only need watering if there is a prolonged dry period.

To reduce the chance of blackfly pinch off the top of the plant if you see blackfly or once the first beans starting to form. You can also spray them off with water. Discouraging ants with anti ant nematodes will also stop them farming and protecting blackfly and give other insects the chance to pick them off.

If you start to see chocolate brown spots (Chocolate Spot fungal infection) appearing, most likely in a hot wet spring/summer, then lift and dispose of the plant. Do not compost.

Harvest the beans when the pods feel full to the touch but before the beans develop a black stripe where it is attached to the pod. After this point they will be floury.

In the Kitchen

Remove the large outer pod before cooking. Wizard produces lots of sweet little beans which you can cook with the outer white shell on and they are sweet even when quite mature.  They need only the briefest of cooking. Boil or steam for 2-3 minutes.

Yield and Plant Health

Wizard produces masses tiny beans over quite a long harvest period during May to early June. Their overall yield, possibly equivalent to normal broad beans. Plants are tough and  designed to survive over winter. They also remained free from blackfly whilst others succumbed.

Grow Again? Yes, Good alternative to Autumn sown broad beans.

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