Broad Bean ‘Ratio’ is a very high-yielding variety. It produces fairly short plants that have a multi-branched habit, producing several stems which increases yield and resists falling over. The plants are considerably wider than standard varieties and slightly greater spacings between plants are recommended.
It is suited to standard and late sowings and can be sown as late as May. It produces top quality white beans with approximately 5 beans per pod.
Ratio is a white seeded variety that grows to around 100cm (39in) tall. The fragrant, black and white flowers are followed by short, glossy, leathery green pods. The white and black flowers appear late spring and are very fragrant. Pollinated by bees and other insects the flowers give way to bright green pods.
Recommended for home freezing. When dried, the beans are wonderful in winter stews and soups, but as summer gets underway, and the young beans are plucked from the pod, they are so tender they can also be eaten raw.
We should, of course, all grow Broad Beans, as they are so much more delicious eaten young and just picked. When they're smaller than a thumbnail, you can even eat them raw. But it does take cooking - albeit just two minutes in lightly salted simmering water to bring out maximum sweetness. The first pick of the year, tossed with a slightly overindulgent knob of butter, is a high point of early summer.
- Organic Seed.
This seed has been organically produced. The seed has been harvested from plants that have themselves been grown to recognised organic standards, without the use of chemicals. No treatments have been used, either before or after harvest and the seed is supplied in its natural state. It has been certified and is labelled with the Organic symbol.
Sowing: For the earliest crops sow from early autumn to late winter or sow in spring
Broad beans are best suited to a cool climate, and they only grow satisfactorily at temperatures below 15°C (60°F). If sowing in the autumn, choose a sheltered position. The ideal soil is one which has been manured for a previous crop.
Broad beans are traditionally sow in double rows 7cm (2in.) deep, 23cm (9in.) apart in the row. The double rows should be spaced 23cm (9in.) apart and a distance of 40-60cm (18-24in.) should be left before the next set of double rows. Plant seed 5cm deep. They should be planted or thinned to 20cm apart in staggered rows 30cm apart. Sow extra seeds at the end of the row for transplants.
As the beans get taller, you will need to provide extra support to your plants. A common mistake of the first-time gardener is not giving plants support ties that allow growing space. The haulm (stalk) of the broad bean plant is very brittle and easily broken, so the best way to support the plant is to construct a narrow box of stakes pegged in at 120cm intervals. Twist lengths of string from stake to stake to create a supporting frame that the bean plants can lean against when being blown around by the winter winds. Further levels of string can be added as the beans grow taller.
Once the pods start to form, ensure the beans are well watered around the base of the plant during dry periods. If the plants send out side shoots from the base, these should be cut off. At the end of cropping the plants should be removed from the soil. If the plants are left in the ground after their work is done, young sucker shoots can emerge which will exhaust the soil for follow-on crops.
One of the gardening formalities with broad beans - undertaken when the flowers have just wilted to black, sooty curls and the first tiny pods are about to appear in their place - is to pinch out the little cluster of leaves at the top of the plant. This arrests further growth, directing the energy of the plant into the developing pods. Don't discard these leafy bean tops - stir-fried in butter until lightly wilted, they are a delicious vegetable side dish in their own right - think of them as beany greens. They are also a fine filling for a tart or omelette.
Harvest 8 to 10 weeks from spring sowing. Regular picking (ideally 2 or 3 times a week) will keep production going for about 4 to 6 weeks For the best flavour, pick the beans when they are starting to show through the pod while the scar on the end of the beans is still white or green (although they can still be enjoyed after the scar has turned black).
To remove the pods from the plant, give them a sharp twist in a downward direction. With the last pick of the summer, the fat, bulging pods need a good 10 minutes boiling, after which the tender green kernels can be slipped out of their pale, leathery skins.
How to Cook Broad Beans:
Broad beans (or fava beans as they are know in the US) are part of the legume family along with garden peas and chickpeas and originate from the Mediterranean, although the exact location is unclear. Broad beans are a very easy plant to grow, making them a favourite with aspiring gardeners and savvy horticulturists alike. In season in the UK between late May and early September, these kidney-shaped beans are a good source of protein and high in vitamins A, B1 and B2.
Choose beans with firm and crisp shells that are blemish-free with no air pockets. Opt for the smaller beans, which will be sweet and creamy – large beans will have a chalky, mealy texture and are best left for soups and purees. Broad beans will keep in the fridge for two to three days raw but once cooked are best eaten the same day when at their freshest.
Broad beans that are very young and small (less than five centimetres) can be cooked and eaten whole, much like you would a pea. Any bigger than this and it is necessary to remove the beans from their outer pod before cooking. For the best flavour, always double pod the beans. To do this, remove the beans from their outer shell and blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes before refreshing in a bowl of iced water. Once the beans are cool enough to handle, simply make a nick in the second shell (which will have come loose during cooking) and pop out the bright green bean inside. The ratio of whole broad bean to final podded bean isn’t high, but they will be worth the effort.
The fresh, creamy texture of broad beans make them a good match for salty foods such as bacon, parmesan and anchovies. They are great with most seafood or shellfish, they make a good starter and are a welcome addition to any summer meal.
- Organic Seed.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 50gm Average Seed Count 35 Seeds Common Name Broad Beans, Fava beans or Horse Beans. Family Leguminosae Genus Vicia Species faba Cultivar Ratio Spacing Space 23cm (9in.) apart Position If sowing in the autumn, choose a sheltered position. Soil The ideal soil is one which has been manured for a previous crop. Time to Sow Sow February to May Time to Harvest Harvest 8 to 10 weeks from spring sowing.