In my post about garlic I mentioned my grandparents don’t get it. That is definitely not the case with the Broad beans! Broad beans always remind me of my family, especially my grandparents. They love them, and you can guarantee if they are not growing them they will have some frozen up or on the side ready to eat.
As a kid I hated them and never saw the fuss, but now I love them and quite honestly don’t have enough of them! My little one who is four happily eats our homegrown beans because they are so much sweeter than what you get in the shops.
Broad beans are also a good crop to start out on. The seeds are easily germinated; they grow very quickly and have a good growing season. You can also have a bit of fun with them, building frames to support them, and getting all sorts of colour varieties.
They are normally amongst the first to produce a crop, and if they make it to the kitchen can be used in anything ranging from salads to burgers. What is also handy is they are freezable. You could have 100’s of kgs of broad beans but they will happily keep in the freezer.
Like any other crop you do get pests. Aphids and similar seem to like broad beans the most, but are very manageable if caught early. Simply snap of the branch where they congregate and get rid of the infected branch. We had issues with black fly, which was beyond snapping off branches. We popped to our local garden centre and grabbed some spray. It didn’t totally get rid of everything but it helped immensely and saved our entire crop.
Lastly, we’ve picked up a couple of little tips since starting our allotment with broad beans. Once they reach the desired height, snap off the top to stop them growing, save the tips and use them in salads.
Another tip we are trying out at the moment is once the crop has finished, cut the plant down to about 20cm tall and give it a good feed of fertiliser. It will regrow and you will get a small crop around September/October time. We are only just trying this at the moment so can’t say if it works, but let us know if you have tried this and it was successful.
Garlic is becoming a firm favourite in most people’s gardens and allotments these days. Ask my Grandparents and they don’t get it as they don’t use it in their food! But people like to experiment with flavours in the kitchen a lot more now as everything is so easily accessible. Flavours such as garlic also helps save money. People are able to buy cheaper produce and flavour it themselves to create a better meal.
Another reason for its popularity with green fingered people is because it is one of the easiest crops to grow. It pretty much takes care of itself and once the shoots pop out all you have to do is plant it up.
You are also able to plant it more or less throughout the year. Certain times during the year are more beneficial than others, but you can always get something out of a clove. Worse case scenario is that your clove doesn’t multiple but you do at least get a clove twice as big! The ideal times to plant garlic is early spring and late autumn.
Store bough garlic can be used in production and we have always used shop bought garlic up till now. We have however experimented this year and bought a bulb of garlic from an online nursery. It is still early days but so far it has proved to be a lot more productive. Not even a day had passed before shoots broke through, and a week later they could happily be transplanted into the ground.
My girlfriend is half Italian so we use garlic a lot in our kitchen, but it wasn’t until I met her family where I experienced garlic on its own. It can be as simple as adding cloves to olive oil and chilli to make a simple dressing for salads, or roasting an entire bulb whole and eating it along side a Sunday roast. Its flavour is so strong that simply wiping an open clove around a tin can flavour what ever is to be baked in it.
A great book we have on garlic and its many uses is “Wild garlic, gooseberries and me….” it is a must read for anyone looking to use garlic a lot more in their kitchen. It details a variety of recipes as well as advice on flavouring and storing your garlic.
So if you have never tried to plant garlic before then do give it a go, or if perhaps all you have is a window box but an ambition to be on come dine with me stick a few cloves in!
The book referenced can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wild-Garlic-Gooseberries-Me-stories/dp/0007364067/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395845947&sr=1-10&keywords=garlic+recipes
My girlfriend’s family own an italian delicatessen in Tunbridge wells, so if you fancy trying some truly Italian garlic then pop into Max and Molly’s Genuine Italian Food! http://www.genuineitalianfood.co.uk
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