I’m always a bit sceptical about novelty vegetables. So many times you might get an unusual colour or shape but insipid taste. There are a couple of novelty broad beans including the crimson flowered, dating back to the 1800’s and recently saved from extinction, there are some purple seeded beans too, all of which seem to be as good as the more normal green beans. Therefore when I saw Karmazyn and its unusual antique pink colour, I thought I would give it a go.
Despite our extremely wet spring these plants have done very well and were much productive than I thought they would be. The flavour is good and rather unexpectedly the colour is maintained on cooking, although they turn more purple than pink.
Karmazyn is designed to be sown in the spring to crop in June and should be sown successionally in two-week intervals between February (under cover), March and April. Broad bean Aquadulce Claudia can also be sown in autumn.
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.
Yield and plant health
You will get four beans per pod on Karmazyn so it is not the highest yielding bean you can get but I was surprised at how productive it was given it’s fancy colour. Plants have been extremely healthy even though we had a pretty miserable early summer. They are on the boarder of staking/non staking in height. Mine are in a sheltered spot and I haven’t staked with no problem. They are showing no sign of chocolate spot or other disease.
Harvest when young so you don’t have to remove the outer skin as the pink is only skin deep.
In the kitchen
You need to treat these carefully in the kitchen to keep as much colour as possible. Lightly steaming, stir fry or if you must, throw in to already boiling water for just a few minutes. The colour on cooking becomes more purple.