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Welcome to the CountryLife Gardening Blog, written by our horticulturist to provide you with the best tips & advice for all things gardening!  We have been shortlisted for Best Lifestyle Blog in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 Company Category. 

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What to plant in October: Broad Beans

by Jean - Horticulturist CountryLife Ashford | Oct 01, 2015

Growing broad beans and peas is very easy...
Growing broad beans and peas is very easy and is very rewarding. All beans germinate quickly in the right conditions, the beans will emerge within 5-7 days of sowing.

Soil Preparation:

  • To add nutrients and help the soil to retain moisture, prepare the soil by digging and mixing in well-rotten manure or garden compost
  • Make sure to choose a broad bean variety that is right for you, for example dwarf broad beans is for windy areas

How to sow seeds under cover:

  • Sowing broad beans undercover is definitely more reliable especially if you have  trouble with frozen soil or pests like mice
  • Sow one per 7cm (3in) pot filled with multi-purpose compost. Place and water in a cool but frost-free place.
Autumn Sowing:
  • Due to sowing in autumn you can have beans as early as May, but keep an eye out for the weather as this could ruin your hard work. Polytunnels or fleece are a good idea to invest in, in case the temperature drops
Aftercare:
  • When the young beans appear at the base of the plant it's time to 'pinch out' the growing tips. Go to the very top of the plant and remove the tip with two leaves attached, you can compost these or steam them as a leaf vegetable
  • Good airflow is essential for combating fungal disease so spacing shouldn't be compromised
  • As the plants grow you will need to stake them to prevent the fragile stems from bending or breaking and pods being damaged. Stake after the seedlings are up and use anything from pea sticks to bamboo with string to support the plant
  • Dwarf varieties need less space and less staking and are well worth considering especially on windy or small sites

Harvesting:

  • Pick from the bottom up when ripe and continue to harvest frequently. Thick beans can be eaten whole or wait until the pod bursts open to harvest the fully ripe beans inside
  • Don’t pull the plant after harvest, make use of captured nitrogen-fixing bacteria, cut off stems allowing the roots to rot back into the soil and release nitrogen back into the soil for the next crop use
  • Broad beans are great for storing. You can dry or freeze the beans.
Written by Jean

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at: hello@countrylife.ie

Jean's Bio
Hi my name is Jean, I am a horticulturist with CountryLife in the Ashford branch. I grew up on a farm where we always had a veg garden, so you could say that horticulture and agriculture is in the blood! I studied Landscape Horticulture in UCD and worked part-time in Fernhill Garden Centre, Athlone while I was in college. After graduating I worked in Landscape Architecture for three years before returning to the Garden Centre trade. I began in Keane’s Garden Centre, Kilcolgan, Co Galway and returned to Fernhill Garden Centre for three years before joining CountryLife.  Being a horticulturalist is a great job, you are surrounded by nature every day and there is always something to be done. Meeting customers and giving the advice is very rewarding especially when they report back positive results. I love growing my own fruit and veg and I’m always trying new varieties and ways of growing. The seasons are always changing and while the weather is challenging in Ireland, I believe we grow the best produce in the world.

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