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!
Very nice. I love it when a garden experiment gives unexpectedly good results! I don’t grow a particular variety of broadbeans, as mine is grown from saved seed each year. It was aquadulce a very long time ago, but since then I’ve also grown a crimson flowered one and just saved the seeds and now I get a mix of white and crimson flowers.
I like the idea of crossed broad beans – I might plant some of the crimson ones as well and play around crossing them next year.
Sometimes you feel that plants are determined to prove you wrong: the “premier” crop fails and the ones just tucked into some spare space at the last minute go on to do well. This year my BB crop was very poor, so I am a bit worried, but it was probably simply to do with the strange weather conditions. Following a recommendation from a blogging friend I’m going to grow “Stereo” next year. It is a short variety which ought to be be good for my small garden.
They look great. Bees!! I am obsessed with bees right now.
We’ve grown this variety. Have you noticed the perfume from the flower?
I always love when a crop does better than expected.
I love those bonus crops! I’m amazed at the number of flowers the plants produced in the shade.
I so wish I’d managed to get some BB’s in! I would love to have a meal like that at the moment. Even better that it was a bonus.
I’m beginning to suspect that the success of a crop is inversely related to how good you expect it to be! Broad beans are a great veg to grow though – anything that attracts bees and is edible can’t be bad.
I do like your theory and when I think about it it generally holds true. At least it did for all of my best performers this winter: broad beans, parsnips and celeriac.
I didn’t manage to get broad beans in this year, which was disappointing. Glad you had a good crop, even in the shade. I will keep that in mind for next year and might try to replicate your experiment. 🙂
I have just discovered your blog and glad i can actually read it. Most blog sites are blocked on my computer at work. So this is brilliant, straight into the favs and look forward to your posts. I also successfully grew broadbeans this winter. Sound exactly like yours, slow start, beautiful flowers then about 40 – 50 pods. I think i planted one whole packet. so not too bad for $2 packets. The flowers were and added bonus.
I live in the blue mountains, they say it suits broadbeans year round but unsure they deserve too much space during abundent summer growing conditions.
I think you’re probably right to save them for winter growing. They do take up a fair amount of space for a relatively short cropping season.
Bonus! Beans, bees and nitrogen fixing! Nice crop. I don’t remember the variety of BBs I put in this year but they haven’t been great producers – just enough for some tasty snacks. I will put more in again next year through becasue they do seem to produce in that gap between the winter crops and summer ones.
I like them for that reason too, and because I enjoy crops that are only around for a short window. Something to look forward to.
Good on you for giving it a go, despite knowing better 🙂 Sometimes I think our experience can prevent us from having a sense of adventure. Enjoy the deliciousness!
Wow – what a harvest for something you didn’t expect to do well! I similarly planted my broad beans mostly to add nitrogen to the soil, but ended up leaving a bunch of them in a car tire and they have produced a lot! By the way, I’ve been so inspired by your blog that I’ve decided to start my own. I have only done an introductory post so far but as I live in Melbourne too I hope you might check it out sometime! Thanks, Jess
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