TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

February 26, 2012

Optica Broad Beans

Filed under: pea&beans — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 6:55 pm

Optica is an excellent modern variety of broad beans.  They have masses of pods and are very productive.



To Sow Optica Broad Beans:

  • sow outdoors from February to June
  • 10cm/ 4inches apart
  • rows 60cm/24inches apart
  • click this link to buy seed from Unwins

Optica broad beans  have a compact growing habit which make them ideal for small gardens, where space is at a premium.  They are lower growing than many broad beans but still need staking.



Optica broad beans produce medium length pods with 4 or 5  white beans per pod.



The pods are quite tender & if picked when very young the pods can also be eaten.



Optica has a good flavour and the beans freeze well.

July 13, 2010

Cooking Midwinter Broad Beans

Filed under: pea&beans — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 7:44 am

We have been cooking the Midwinter Broad beans!  They are a great addition to the veg garden.

The cooked Midwinter broad beans are:

  • delicious
  • sweet
  • mild in flavour
  • pinkish when cooked


The Midwinter broad beans have:

  • yielded well
  • stood up well without staking
  • been disease free


The breeder of this strain, Malcolm Allison, said “the red-seeded character develops while the beans are young & good to eat, whereas the purple colour only comes as the beans are drying out & not worth eating.”  We found that the young immature beans had pink tips where the bean is attached to the pod.  But as the beans mature the pinky/red colour develops over the whole bean.  This colour stayed on the beans after they had been cooked by steaming.  One pod did not have the pink colour, and these bright green broad beans contrasted with the Midwinter pink beans after cooking and added to the picture on the plate!

June 9, 2010

String stops broad beans falling over

Filed under: pea&beans — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 8:46 am

It is worth putting string round broad beans & tying to a stake if they are growing on fertile soil, as they grow tall and tend to fall over in heavy rain or wind. 

LodgedBroadBeans LodgedBroadBeans 

When the broadbean plant blows over it ‘lodges’ with other broad bean plants and stays close to the soil.  Some of the leaves will be hidden from bright light so the broad bean pods will not be fed so well which means that they will not grow and fill with good sized broad beans.

lodged-Optica-broad-beans lodged-Optica-broad-beans 

The beans in the picture lodged at a late stage in their growing period, so will provide a decent harvest.  But if the lodging had happened at flowering time, the broad bean pods would not have filled properly.

broad-bean-plant-Optica broad-bean-plant-Optica
The broad bean plants are quite heavy, particularly when wet from rain, so it is worth putting some string round them to stop them falling over. 

May 23, 2010

Midwinter Broad Beans Flower

Filed under: pea&beans — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 12:19 pm

The Midwinter broad beans are in flower.



The flowers are  a deep purple.



The midwinter strain of broad bean was developed by Malcolm Allison.  The plants are looking very strong and healthy, exhibiting their hybrid vigour.



The bottom leaves of one plant appears to have rust, but so far it is not having any visible effects on the plant.



Malcolm has warned that this strain of broad bean will not yield well.  But we look forward to harvesting the purple Midwinter broad beans that will result from these flowers!

May 20, 2010

Broad Bean Tops

Filed under: pea&beans — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 8:32 pm

Gardeners often pinch out the tops of broad beans to curb black fly.

We very rarely pinch out the tops.  But if blackfly are a problem, the tips may be pinched out when the first pods are set.

To pinch out the tops:

  • select the top of the broad bean plant
  • find broad bean top
  • Hold the tip between finger and thumb
  • pinch the tip so that it breaks away from the plant

Watch the video below to see how it is done.

February 5, 2010

Early Broad Bean Variety – Express

Filed under: pea&beans — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 9:48 pm

The early broad bean variety, Express, matures quickly, thus producing a very early crop of broad beans.



Broad Bean Express:

  • produces up to 34 good pods per plant!
  • yields well for early plantings
  • is winter hardy
  • matures quickly
  • freezes well
  • has tender and tasty beans


Click this link to order the variety Express Broad Bean

August 5, 2009

Broad Bean Midwinter – a new strain

Filed under: pea&beans — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 8:22 am

Broad bean  Midwinter is an exciting  new strain  bred by Malcolm Allison.
The Midwinter strain is characterised by flowers in shades of pink & red and seeds that are red, or that turn purple at maturity. Malcolm is offering these new Midwinter  broad beans,  at £2.50 for 12 seeds, plus £1postage & packing. To buy  please get in touch or click the buy now button below.



As well as being attractive, the plants produce delicious beans!
Malcolm has been selecting the strain for about 12 years & the plants breed fairly true, although every year he is careful to pull out any white-flowered plants & to discard any seeds that are green at maturity.
Malcolm explains the history of Midwinter’s development:
” in 1996 I was working at the Henry Doubleday Research Association (now Garden Organic) & one of the guardians of the Heritage Seed Library gave me seeds of the Crimson-Flowered broad bean (which has green seeds) & of a purple-seeded variety from Estonia (which has white flowers). I planted the two strains together on my allotment & harvested the seeds each year & looked out for plants that combined the characters of the two original varieties. In 2001, I added the variety ‘Red Epicure’ to the mix. ‘Red Epicure’ is a Victorian variety with which flowers, but which has beans that are red, even when very young (the seeds of the purple-seeded strain only develop the purple colour as they ripen i.e. after you’d want to eat them).
I have found that purple seeds of this strain will produce red-seeding plants & vice versa. I have to admit that ‘Midwinter Strain’ is for people keen on the aesthetics of their veg ~ productivity is very feeble compared to TopVeg’s  ‘Optima’.
I’ve called the strain ‘Midwinter’ because that’s the name of my allotment site & that’s when I plant them: I always plant them as soon after 1st January as I can.
I have tried sowing them in the autumn, but the plants all rotted after being frosted & the few that survived flowered no earlier than those sown in January. My soil is a very light, free-draining sand.”

The Midwinter broad bean plants grow to about 80cm tall.

If you’d like a starter pack of this Midwinter strain of broad beans, priced at £2.50 for 12 seeds, plus £1postage & packing,  please get in touch or click the buy now button below.

August 3, 2009

Thrip Damage on Peas and Beans

Filed under: Uncategorized, pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 4:09 pm

        Thrips cause damage to the growing shoots of peas & beans, and
        thrip damage is particularly obvious in the young broad bean
        tips and flowers.



Thrip damage is more serious in cold dry springs, when the young plants
are growing slowly.



The broad bean leaves curl and become distorted.




Thrip damage is very common in broad beans.

June 4, 2009

Broad bean flowers and pods

Filed under: pea&beans — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 7:05 pm

These broad bean flowers are pure white! The flowers are from the Broad Bean variety Medes



Medes Broad Beans are a highly productive variety producing medium sized pods, each containing 5-6 tender, sweet, juicy beans.
The broad bean pods are filling now and will soon be checked to see if they are ready to harvest.

Why do some broad bean leaves have holes?

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 7:02 pm

Holes in broad bean leaves are often the result of thrip damage.



The thrips get right into the growing centre & the thrip larvae damage the minute, developing  leaves.  As these leaves grow, they are distorted & the damaged part of the leaf becomes a hole – which gets bigger as the leaf grows.



This gives the impression that something is eating the leaf now – but the hole was made when the thrip was damaging the growing centre where the leaf was forming.  Sometimes   the leaves around the growing centre have  black bits round the edges, almost  like they have been burnt.



Thrips normally damage more than one plant.
Blackfly will start a colony on one broad bean plant, but blackfly do not make holes & they would be easy to see on the growing tip of the broad bean plant.

So, holes on broad bean leaves are usually due to thrips.

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