Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Broad Beans

I haven't been feeling well, but I was a bit better today - a two-day attack of migraine has just about died down - so I managed to get to the allotment. The last bits of snow are melting fast. The bad news is that by last bee colony has died out. I haven't investigated, but it was going strong before the last cold spell,  and it had food available, so I'm pretty sure it'll be isolation starvation. The bees will have clustered around the brood, and it's been too cold for them to break cluster. They may all have been crowded on frames with no food.  Never mind; there are very few years when I don't have a swarm or two move in. Give it a couple of months, I'll probably have bees again.

I managed to start nine varieties of Broad Beans, in pots. Last year I started working on a grex; you plant a lot of different varieties together, let them cross, save the seeds, and keep selecting. In the end, you get your own, rather variable, variety.

Last year I planted seven varieties, but the waterlogging was so bad only three of them produced any beans. These were Wizard, a field bean type from Real Seeds, Red Epicure, a red-seeded longpod, and Dumont, a Californian grex which turned out to be extremely hardy. I've planted the hybridised seed from these, and added six more varieties.

There's Aquadulce - I was suprised not to get a single bean off these last year, as they're really tough and it's never let me down before - Fava Lungs Delle Cascine from Italy, Karmazyn,another red-seeded variety; all of these are longpods, with large seeds, and a lot of them in each pod,  and three more small seeded varieties. There's Crimson Flowered, a tender variety with, as the name implies, red flowers. This one's probably been around since the 18th Century at least. Oldambuser Wierboon is a Dutch landrace, and Kaulion Valkea is from Finland. Let's hope the rain lets up this year and gives them a chance!


  1. Sad news about your bees. Its a trying year for gardening, the hard weather should select nicely for the hardiest broad bean varieties. I have held off sowing any out doors. I have Crimson flowered, Witkeim, Guatemalan purple and Bowland's Beauty hybridising in the polytunnel with a view to creating a variety suitable for my conditions. Although, maybe it will just create a genetic mess.

  2. That's an interesting list; I hadn't heard of Guatemalan Purple. Is it the seeds which are coloured?

  3. I hadn't heard the term 'grex' before; had to look that one up!
    I'm growing Wizard this year, so good to hear that it is hardy. I am trending towards seeking tougher, more resilient varieties given last year, and this year so far.

  4. If last year is anything to go by, Wizard is very tough indeed. Everything was waterlogged, and four out of seven varieties gave up. Wizard was the only one that gave me anything resembling a crop. Let's hope we don't have another season like that one!