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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 15 September, 2019
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Magic beans: Make your own hummus with broad beans

Michael Kelly continues his Grow It Yourself series with broad beans, a prolific and easy to grow veg.

Michael Kelly Grower

BROAD BEANS ARE generally the first legume to produce a crop, making them one of the first new-season crops of the year. Arguably they are not as tasty as peas or French beans, but they are very easy to grow and prolific, and they freeze well.

Sowing

Many GIYers sow “early” broad beans in the autumn (September or October) for a spring crop, but only do so if your soil is good – they won’t fare so well in wet, heavy clay. Alternatively, sow in February for an early summer crop.

Dig in some well-rotted manure before sowing. Broad beans are hardy so you can sow them directly in the soil, or you can sow them in module trays for transplanting later.

Either way, sow 5cm deep. Transplant to 15cm apart. Sow extra seeds to provide spares in case some get eaten or fail to germinate.

Growing

Weed and water frequently. Mulch is a good idea around the base of the plants to preserve moisture.

Pinch out the top growing shoot when the plant starts to set pods. Support the plants with individual stakes or canes. Alternatively, enclose a row of broad bean plants within a ring of twine strung between canes (this will stop them from toppling over).

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Harvesting

The key is to keep picking ‘em! The more you pick, the more they will produce.

Start cropping from the bottom of each plant and work your way up. Marvel at the beautiful white fleece inside the pod. The beans inside are at their best when the membrane attaching them to the pod is green or white, not brown.

Recommended Varieties

Aquadulce, Witkeim

Problems

The biggest problem for broad beans is blackfly, which will be clearly visible at the top of the plant and stunt its growth. Pinching out the growing tip helps to prevent them.

Chocolate spot is another problem and is not as much fun as it sounds – it’s a fungus that causes brown spots on the leaves and pods. It is most common in damp, humid weather. Leaving enough space between plants will allow air to circulate between them and may prevent this problem.

GIY Tips

Broad beans are sweeter when small and in fact, you can eat the whole pod when they are 2-3cm.

When the plant has finished cropping, cut the plant out but leave the root in the soil. Broad beans are nitrogen fixers – they take nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil, which will be good for crops that will be planted there next year.

Recipe of the Week – Broad Bean Hummus

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Chances are if you grow broad beans, you will get a glut of beans at some stage. This hummus recipe will come in handy. Sometimes when I am feeling lazy, I don’t bother popping the beans out of their skins…

Ingredients:

450g podded broad beans
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
¾ tsp salt
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
A few toasted sesame seeds to garnish

Directions

Drop the beans into a pan of well-salted boiling water, bring back to the boil and cook for 4-5 minutes or until quite tender. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water.

Refresh under cold water, then nick the sides of each bean with your fingernail and pop out the bright green beans.

Put the beans into a food processor with 1 tbsp of the cooking water, the garlic, tahini paste, lemon juice and ¾ tsp of salt, then blend to a very smooth purée. With the motor still running, very gradually pour in the oil. Season to taste.

Spoon the mixture into a small bowl and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve straightaway.

Michael Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and founder of GIY.

Read: For the love of cauliflower: A difficult veg to grow but worth it

Read: Eat stalks and leaves: Fennel is the veg that keeps on giving

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About the author:

Michael Kelly  / Grower

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