You either hate Broad beans (also known as fava beans or flat beans) or you love them. This is one bean that is difficult to ignore because of its intense flavor and hard texture. I love that intensity and the bite. We get a lot of indigenous varieties of flat beans here in eastern and southern parts of India. Most of them are climbers and need a trellis to grow. A few hybrid varieties are also available now which are of bush variety and hence can easily grow at any place. Being a leguminous plant it also fixes nitrogen in your soil and keeps it healthy. So even if you don’t love fava beans your garden loves it. This plant prefers cooler temperature and hence is a a great vegetable to grow in winters. In this post I’ll guide you on growing broad beans in containers in your kitchen garden.
Quick Reference Table for Growing Broad Beans in Containers
|Growing Temperature||15 – 25 °C|
|Germination Temperature||20-30 °C Ideal|
|Germination Time||3-7 days|
|Soil pH||6 to 6.8|
|Sunlight Need||8-10 hours per day (Sun loving Plant)|
|Preferred Planting Method||Direct Sowing|
|Container size||Grow 2-3 plants in a 10 liter containers. Keep 3-4 inch distance between two plants.|
|Time to Harvest||60-80 days from germination|
|Harvest Period||50-60 days|
|Typical Pests||Aphids, leaf minor, ants|
|Best season to plant in India||
Start your seeds about a month before onset of winters. October to February are the best months to grow broad beans.
Seed Sowing and Germination of Broad Beans
Broad beans are medium feeders and shallow rooted. So they can easily be grown in a 10 liter container. You can grow 2-3 plants in a single 10 liter container. If you are using a bigger container and planting in rows then you need to keep about 6 inch distance between plants and around 10 inch distance between rows. For sowing the seeds it is a good idea to soak the seeds in Amrut Jal for 24 hours. Plain water also works fine if you don’t have Amrut Jal. Soaking seeds helps in faster germination. Mark your spots where you’ll be sowing your seeds in the pot. Now make 3/4 inch to 1 inch holes in the soil using one of your fingers. Place the seeds (Use 2 seeds for every mark. Thin saplings later retaining the healthier one) on their side in the holes and them cover them loosely with the potting soil. Water the pot gently. Be careful not to disturb the soil. As the seeds germinate better in humid conditions its a good idea to keep the container covered. Check the moisture in the soil everyday. Don’t let the soil dry out any time, but at the same time don’t keep the soil wet every time. The seeds germinate better if the moisture level is slightly on the lower side than on the higher side. In about 3-5 days you should see happy seedlings looking out from the pots,
Sometimes seeds do not germinate or have a very low germination rate. When this happens you can try to germinate the seeds in a bottle. Wrap your pre-soaked seeds in a damp cotton cloth or damp kitchen towel. Place it inside a bottle, close the lid and place the bottle in a warm area. Check after 3-4 days if the seeds have germinated. If the seeds have germinated you can sow them in your pot. If most of them have not germinated you need to change your seeds.
Growing Broad Beans in Containers
Broad Bean is a climber and it grows at fast rate. So you need to build a trellis well in time for the plant. When the broad bean plant is about 6-10 inches tall it starts to climb. So keep your trellis ready by then. By the way if you are growing the bush variety then you don’t have to worry about the trellis.
Because broad bean grow in full sunlight the soil can dry out very fast. So mulch you pot heavily to avoid evaporation. Keep the soil moist all the time and never let it dry out. If at some point the plant gets water stressed then it may be difficult for it to recover.
Use Amrut Jal or any other organic liquid soil conditioner/fertilizer every 10-15 days. During flowering increase the frequency and use it once every 7 days. You can add extra compost for better fruiting at regular intervals. Adding extra compost to the container every 40-50 days keeps the plant happy. To do this remove the mulch and add about 1 liters of well decomposed compost per plant. Spread it evenly and mulch again.
Aphids are the major pests that you have to face while growing broad beans in containers. So check your plant regularly for aphid attack. Check leaves, stems, buds and flowers. In case you find them remove them with water jet. You can also use a neem spray or any broad organic pesticide like diluted cow urine to get rid of aphids. Spray your plant once a week if you see aphids. In case a plant has got infested with aphids its better to move the container to isolated area and spray it. If the aphids do not go even after spraying then get rid of the plant to protect rest of the plants in your garden.
Harvesting Broad Beans
Broad beans fruits grow slower than other beans. The flowers generally stay on the plant for 7-10 days before turning into pods. The pods also take around 15-20 days to grow and become ready for harvest. To know if they are ready for harvest or not press the pods gently and check for the seeds. If the seeds have formed properly the bean is ready to harvest. For seed saving leave the first few pods on the plants till the pod turns light brown to brown color. You can do seed saving only if the bean is a open pollinated variety.
Generally every plant flowers and fruits well two to three times after which the pods become smaller and most of them dry on the plant. So after you have got two or three batches of harvest, cut off the plant and use it for mulching.
I have made this post about growing broad beans in containers on request by one of our readers with a beautiful name of Chandrakala. I hope it will be helpful for her and also for all of you. And if you want us to write on some topic, then do write to us at [email protected] and we’ll do the needful asap.