If you think there isn't much that you can grow in late autumn and winter think again. One of our favourite things to start to grow is broad beans. Although we can grow them in a jar for a science experiment there is nothing better for kids than seeing them start to sprout and grow a beanstalk from the ground. Sowing broad beans or Fava Beans as they are known in the USA is really easy and if you follow the instructions here you'll have some beans to observe as they grow and eat once they have ripened in the spring. So here you go how to sow broad beans with kids.
Growing Broad Beans
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Broad beans can be grown under glass or a cloche in the UK in winter, we start to plant ours in early November and continue with a few seeds a week throughout the winter so we have a succession of beans through spring and summer.
What is succession growing?
Instead of a single crop like a farm would grow where everything is harvested at once in our small back garden raised vegetable beds and pots we grow in succession. It's easy to do and means that there is almost a continuous harvest throughout the year.
Although different plants have a different sowing season it's easy to spread the seeds out throughout that period.
For example with broad beans we start off planting November and then continue through to March throughout the winter months every other week sowing a few more seeds into the pots in our greenhouse so we can plant out in the spring.
Which Broad Beans to Grow with Kids
Our favourite varieties of broad beans to grow with kids are :-
- Broad Bean 'Aquadulce Claudia' a standard sized broad bean easy to grow and sow in autumn for spring picking -> Click here to purchase from Thompson and Morgan in the UK
- Broad Bean 'The Sutton' perfect is space is limited this variety only grows 30cm tall and easy to grow in pots -> Click here to purchase from Thompson and Morgan in the UK
If you are in the USA we have been recommended to grow these varieties of Fava Beans with the kids - you can purchase them on Amazon with our affiliate link by clicking on the images below.
How to Grow Broad Beans
We grow 2 sets of broad beans in the autumn and winter. One set in our small greenhouse and the other in the ground with plastic bottle DIY cloches over the top to keep them warmer and protected.
Broad beans like rich soil in a sunny sheltered position in the garden. If you have water logged soil then it is best to grow in pots at least to start and wait till the soil dries out so that the seeds don't root.
Sowing your broad beans in a greenhouse
Whatever type of greenhouse you have from a glass house like ours to a smaller plastic covered shelving both are great for starting off broad beans.
Then plant a couple of bean seeds in each hole.
We plant 2 and then pick out the one that is the strongest shoot, this gives us more successful growing we have found. Don't forget to label them so that you know when and what you planted!
Don't forget to water and check on them regularly you may find that in 2 - 3 weeks you have seeds that have germinated.
Once the soil warms a bit in spring you can then plant out either directly into your vegetable garden or into pots to grow and harvest later in spring.
Sowing broad beans into the ground
In the ground your broad beans should be grown in double rows - each bean should have 23cm between them but if you alternate the positioning you can grow more.
Starting them off in early spring or autumn and winter make sure that the soil is warmed up slightly by covering with a cloche (we use plastic tubs or 2l drinks bottles from our recycling bin).
Then plant the beans around 5cm deep. Cover with the cloche and make sure to keep an eye on them regularly.
So you don't lose the rows you plant don't forget to label - we love these stone plant markers for our vegetable garden 6 years on and they are still being used after a quick repaint last year.
Why Don't You Grow...
Save a couple of the broad beans they are ideal to grow a beanstalk with. Check out our instructions on how to grow a bean in a jar and help your children understand what is happening underneath the soil before the shoots start to appear.