I have a large raised bed which is close to the rear of my North facing house. In summer, when the sun is high in the sky, this bed is my sunniest as it gets shade from next door’s Eucalypts slightly later in the day than the other beds. In winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, it is completely shaded by the house. Once the summer crops finished last Autumn I was planning on resting the bed for the winter. At the last moment however I decided to sow some broad bean seeds in it.
The plan was: if they grew – great, if not then nothing ventured nothing gained. I was hoping they would grow enough to become green manure but I wasn’t really expecting them to crop. But to my surprise they have! The plants were slowish to establish and haven’t grown as vigorously as they would have in full (or even part) sun but they still grew and flowered while still shaded by the house.
I think I accidently managed to time it perfectly as the plants started to get a little bit of sun as the majority of the pods were setting so in the end I have had a good crop of beans from a bed that I was expecting very little from over winter.
The variety I grew this year was called ‘Long Pod’. They are a white flowering variety and in my shaded spot they grew to about a metre high. I did stake them during our particularly windy early spring but otherwise they have been completely maintenance free. The flavour of the beans is good, especially when combined with garlic, leeks and bacon and I have been delighted with their performance.
The other big plus is that they have attracted bees to the garden – I had bees all through early spring and they mostly seemed to be drawn to the broad beans. All in all an excellent experiment and one that I will definitely repeat next year!