When you start looking at the history of broad beans which have been grown in the UK for more than 3000 years you start to understand some of their unusual names like Masterpiece longpod and Green Windsor. Split in to three main groups, the dwarfs named for their short stature, the Longpods because they have…..longer pods than their predecessors and then you have the Windsors. The oldest variety of broad bean widely grown is Green Windsor introduced in 1809. Windsors have shorter pods, less yield and are a bit less hardy than the long pods so are best for spring sowings. However some, like Green Windsor have a fantastic flavour, much better than some of the autumn sown long pods, so are still grown today. I can’t find any reason why they are called Windsor beans other than Windsor beans seems to be quite a common name for broad beans and they may have been interchangeable until the long pods came along. If you know any better then let me know.
In the kitchen
Green Windsor are credited as having a fine traditional flavour and indeed I often grow several varieties of broadies at the same time and it is one of the best for flavour. Harvest when the pods are filling but are still slightly under full maturity. If where the seed is attached to the pod has gone black then they have gone over.
I like broad beans picked young and lightly blanched in boiling water. You can also use them instead of peas in Pea and Mint Bruschetta or as part of Falafels. Broad beans freeze well. To freeze plunge in to boiling water for a minute and, drain and then plunge in to icy cold water until cool. Drain and pat dry and then freeze, spread out on a tray if possible before putting in to a freezer proof container or bag.
Yield and plant health
As a fairly traditional variety and a “Windsor” type, the yields are only average. You will get around 4 beans per pod. Plants can be grown without staking in sheltered spots but it is recommended. Like all broad beans, blackfly can be a problem, to counter follow growing instructions at the bottom of the article.
Green Windsor 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.