Broad beans, also known as fava or faba beans, are actually one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants, possibly dating as far back as 6800 BCE. The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks all grew broad beans in their day, and until explorers came back from the New World they were actually the only beans eaten in Europe and even around the Mediterranean!
When it comes to the kitchen, broad beans have some real versatility. They are a superb way to inject protein into your lunchtime salad, especially mixed in with some ripe, juicy tomatoes and a crumble of tangy feta. They are also a perfect addition to all sorts of risottos, soups, potato salads, and more. But one of my favourite ways to eat them is pureed down to make a delicious pea and broad bean houmous, layered on toast with some goat’s cheese and a crack of sea salt to make an incredibly tasty and healthy snack.
And they really are healthy. Magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorous, vitamin B1, and thiamine can all be found in broad beans, making them great for your nervous system, immune system, bloodstream, and bones. They are full of healthy protein and fibre too.
One of the best benefits of broad bean though, is that they are perfect for home gardens because they are easy to grow and give you a large crop from a small area. They are often recommended for beginners, and they are one that kids love to get involved in too.
It’s best to plant in double rows, 20cm apart and stagger the planting to give them extra room. Give yourself a good 60cm between each set of double rows to allow access and good ventilation. Plant your seeds 5cm deep and 20cm apart, and then water well. Germination usually only takes about 10 days.