Now is the time to start sowing. Hannah Stephenson reveals how to grow broad beans
Now is a good time to start sowing broad beans, an underrated veg which are delicious boiled for about 10 minutes and then mixed with melted butter and fried bacon, or tuned into a summer soup or puree.
They are easy to grow but like rich, free-draining soil which is not waterlogged or too acid. Be aware of the vertical space you have available when you choose your variety as standard types grow to around 1.2m (4ft) while dwarf varieties reach around 45cm (1.5ft). Sow the seeds in shallow trenches 20cm apart, sowing a few extra at the end of each row to use to fill the gaps when seedlings appear.
Hoe regularly when the seedlings are young and support tall-growing varieties. When the first beans start to form, pinch off the top 10cm (4in) of stem to reap an earlier harvest. Begin picking them when the first pods are 5-8cm (2-3in). Never wait for the beans to become really large or they’ll be tough and leathery. Harvest when the beans have started to show through the pod.