In 1998/1999 it was the vegetable of the year, the field bean, also known as broad bean or broad bean. The annual, herbaceous plant deserved this award due to its high nutritional value. The member of the legume family grows up to 2 meters high and starts flowering in May. The real benefit is not in the green pods, but in the thick, kidney-shaped seeds, which also gave the plant the name broad bean. Broad beans with bacon are still a national dish in the Rhineland. In other parts of the country, broad beans are mainly cultivated as valuable animal feed and for green manure.


Since the field bean is not particularly sensitive to frost, it can be sown outdoors in mild locations from February/March. The following site conditions should be guaranteed:

  • Sunny to partially shaded position.
  • Deep potting soil above high groundwater levels.
  • Alternatively, artificial irrigation options are available.
  • Popular growing areas have regular rainfall.
  • Excellent conditions prevail in the marshes of the Elbe, Weser, Ems and Ruhr.
  • The broad bean does not tolerate standing water.

soil preparation

Basically unsuitable for sowing are beds in which broad beans or other legumes were already grown the year before. On the other hand, all types of cereals and maize can be seen as favorable preceding crops.

Before sowing the broad beans, the selected bed is processed. All weeds are removed, as well as stones and other coarse material. If a soil test shows that the pH value is below 6.5, lime, preferably algae lime or rock flour, is added to the potting soil. In addition, the soil is enriched with well-rotted garden compost and horn shavings. Alternatively, a nitrogen-rich complete fertilizer is applied as a start fertilization, or at least patent potash, because field beans have a high potassium requirement for lush growth.

If the hobby gardener decided last autumn that he wants to grow field beans in this spot, he has already mixed manure under the soil. However, this measure is avoided immediately before sowing, because manure usually contains sharp components that damage the young plants. The aim of the soil preparation is to get the substrate as finely crumbly as possible, which is then smoothed out with a rake.


As soon as the ground is no longer frozen, it’s time to sow the thick seeds. Before doing so, soak them in lukewarm water for a few hours so that they swell a little.

  • A bed is no wider than 1 meter.
  • The sowing depth in furrows is 6 cm to 10 cm.
  • Plant only 3 cm to 4 cm deep in particularly heavy soil.
  • The sowing depth has a decisive influence on the success of the harvest.
  • The planting distance is about 10 cm.
  • The rows should be at least 20 cm apart.
  • Cold stimulus promotes the germination of broad beans.
  • The germination period is 8 to 14 days.
  • The germination temperature may vary between 5° and 20° Celsius.

After sowing, pour plenty of water, but not with a sharp jet of water, so that the freshly planted seeds are not washed away again. The recommended bed width ensures that the hard-working hobby gardener can easily access the field bean plants from all sides. The relatively deep planting of the seeds has the advantage that the deep-reaching taproots develop better and the stability of the broad bean plant increases.

care until harvest

If the planting distance of at least 10 cm is maintained, every second specimen of the young plants can remain. The care work during the germination and ripening period is therefore limited to the following activities:

  • Water regularly and not too little.
  • Avoid the formation of waterlogging.
  • Pile up the plants from a height of 20 cm for a better stand.
  • Weed and hoe frequently for loose soil.
  • Mulching keeps weeds under control and the soil moist.
  • No organic or mineral fertilization required.
  • Cover with fleece against predatory garden dwellers.
  • Pinching above the 7th flower cluster promotes growth.
  • Tall varieties require support from wooden stakes or chicken wire.
  • Caution! The pollen is poisonous. It is therefore essential to wear respiratory protection.

Depending on the variety cultivated, it is harvested from June as soon as the pods are tender green. The pods are only rarely eaten because they do not suit everyone’s stomach. Rather, it is the thick, juicy beans that people and animals love to eat.

Large variety of varieties

With field beans, a distinction is made between summer beans and winter beans. Some of the most popular varieties are presented below:

Puffbohne ‚Pearl’

  • Sow from February to May
  • Harvest from June
  • Pods 12 cm to 14 cm long
  • is traded as a delicacy variety

Puffbohne ‚Hangdown‘

  • Sow from February to May
  • Harvest June to August
  • medium-sized grains that remain green

Broad Bean Triple White

  • Sow February to May
  • Harvest June and August
  • white flowers with white cores
  • particularly in need of water

broad bean Alexia

  • Sow from February
  • Harvest in June and August
  • very resistant variety to rust
  • one of the highest yielding broad beans
  • unusually high protein content

Field bean Julia

  • early sowing before the grain
  • Harvest in early summer
  • colorful flowering variety
  • high virus resistance
  • very high grain yield

Field bean Gloria

  • Sow from March
  • Weißblühende Kind
  • Danger of aphids from the beginning of flowering
  • Type of feed low in bitter substances
  • highest protein content of all varieties

Broad Bean Fanfare

  • Sow from -5° Celsius
  • Harvest from June
  • high profitability
  • particularly resistant and healthy variety

Ackebohne Fuego

  • Sowing possible from February
  • Harvest from the end of May/beginning of June
  • worldwide proven summer bean
  • medium sleeve length
  • high stability on all floors

Broad bean espresso

  • the special variety for loess soils
  • Sow as early as possible
  • Harvest from June
  • medium sleeve length

broad bean typhoon

  • first tannin-free summer field bean
  • Sow from February
  • Harvest from July/August
  • less protein

Broad bean Hiverna

  • first winter field bean
  • Sow from September 20th to the end of October
  • good yield even in dry locations
  • excellent hardy

Other winter broad beans are available from specialist retailers in France and England, such as the Diva, Husky, Karl and Organdi varieties.

diseases and pests

If cool, damp weather conditions prevail, the pH value is well below 6.5, if the potting soil is not worked loose enough and waterlogging forms, the field bean will inevitably suffer from the dreaded root rot. This fungal disease can be effectively prevented in advance by observing the most important care conditions. In addition, the following diseases are found in broad beans:

spot disease Infection is manifested by small, brown spots about 5 mm in size on the leaves. Brownish colored lines can be seen on the stems. After some time, the pods are also affected and the entire plant dies. Since chemical pesticides are out of the question and are also not permitted for use in the home garden, preventive measures are particularly advisable. The broad beans should not be too close together, they should dry out quickly after a downpour in an airy location and the soil pH should be at least 6.5. In the case of a severe infestation, the field bean plants are completely removed so that the infection does not spread further.

Broad bean rust
This fungal infection is one of the most common diseases in broad beans. All parts of the plant show first light brown, later dark brown discolorations. With persistently warm temperatures, the fungus continues to spread and ultimately leads to the death of the plant. In contrast to chocolate spot disease, fungicides that are permitted for private use are available in this case, such as Celarflor Pilzfrei Saprol, Compo Universal Pilzfrei, Bayer Garten Universal Pilzfrei and numerous other preparations. The database of the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety provides information on which agents are currently approved for private vegetable gardens.

Biological control of animal pests

Aphids, the black bean aphid and the broad bean weevil are the pests of most concern to stricken home gardeners. Since the broad beans are mostly grown for consumption, chemical maces are generally out of the question for combating them. Therefore, the experts advise the following biologically oriented measures to get rid of the pests:

  • Plant savory and thyme between the broad beans.
  • Bring out ladybirds and lacewing larvae as natural predators.
  • Hose the flightless lice off the plant with a jet of water.
  • Use preparations based on rapeseed oil.
  • Spray a mixture of 1 l water, 15 ml soft soap and 15 ml spirit.
  • Install insect hotels in the garden to attract hoverflies and parasitic wasps.
  • Irrigate plants several times with milk water (1 l water, 1/2 l milk).
  • Put sticky traps with pheromones in the ground.
  • Biological remedies with Indian neem have proven to be effective.

In addition, experienced gardeners recommend the use of various plant manure, such as horsetail, tansy or tobacco. As with all biological control agents, no immediate effect can be seen in this case either. The liquid manure is to be used on several days in a row.

Obtain seeds from broad beans yourself

If you have cultivated your broad beans according to organic criteria, you can easily get your own seeds for the next season from the plants. This not only saves money, but also gives the hobby gardener the certainty of exactly what has been used for nutrient supply and plant protection. Broad bean seed is collected by picking some of the finest pods only after they have dried up. However, this only works if the weather is dry for a correspondingly long time. In a rainy summer, however, the garden lover does not have to do without the seeds he has collected himself, because there is an alternative; the emergency. In this process, the mature pods of the broad beans are harvested and hung upside down in a dry place to dry.

In the next step, the seeds are removed from the pods of the broad beans. In commercial operations, machines are used to thresh out the seed for this work step, which is not necessary given the low volume in the private sector.

Once the seeds have been freed from the pods, the next step is cleaning. This not only removes all soil and plant residues, but also liquidates any pathogens that may be present. One of the easiest cleaning methods is using screens, which come in at least three mesh sizes: coarse, medium and fine. The collected broad bean seeds are thus sieved three times, becoming cleaner with each pass. Once the seed has been cleaned, it should be individually inspected again by hand, removing damaged and fungus-infested kernels.

Storage for domestic use should be based on the following criteria:

  • The seed is completely dry.
  • The humidity in the storage room is not high.
  • It is as dark and cool as possible at the storage location.

Ideally, the broad bean seeds are kept in plastic containers with screw caps and rubber seals. Paper bags and cardboard boxes are less suitable because they attract moisture and are not really safe from storage pests such as mice or bean weevils. It is very important that the name and date are clearly legible.

Broad beans withstand climatic stresses, decorate the vegetable garden with beautiful flowers and provide delicious, nutritious ingredients for the kitchen. The field beans are sown in the bed before the grain. Plant them deep enough in the ground, they can withstand even freezing temperatures and still thrive until they can be harvested in June. The broad bean does not need fertilizer as long as it receives sufficient water. Its deep roots loosen the soil and enrich it with nitrogen for a rich after-culture. Without the broad bean, the well-stocked vegetable garden would lack something.

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