Magic Beans

One of the best things about gardening are the lessons that Mother Nature teaches us each day. Broad Bean FlowerOne of my challenges in this new garden is to grow something I dislike each year in the hope that I will be inspired to eat it… and, who knows, even enjoy it! Broad Beans (fava beans) have always been my nemesis so these had to be my first choice to grow this year.
There are three wonderful things that I have discovered since growing these plants. Firstly, Broad Beans have the most beautiful, delicate perfume that fills the air with loveliness and when I first noticed this I was amazed! The smell came wafting over from the vegetable patch on a gentle breeze and it took me a long time to identify that it belonged to the bean plants. My brain would not, could not, believe what my nose was telling it. In fact, I initially started to sniff all the pretty flowers in adjacent beds as I really couldn’t quite believe that these sturdy looking plants could smell so good… and I don’t mean just plain good, I mean “put it in a bottle and wear it as a perfume” good! None of my garden books seem to mention how beautiful these flowers smell and, to be fair, I think that I would grow them for this fact alone! I must say that the garden books in question did worry me silly about swarms of blackfly and also stressed the important of proper support in windy weather.
The second wonderful thing  (probably related to the first) is that the bees absolutely love these flowers! The big, fat bumble bees seem to particularly enjoy them and they can’t seem to get enough! I’ve grown lots of plants to deliberately attract bees and butterflies to the Nectar Bar but the Broad Beans seem to be doing a better job and our buzzy friends just can’t stay away.

The final amazing lesson that I have learnt is that Broad Beans grow upwards! Not down towards the ground but actually up towards heaven!! I know you’ll probably be laughing at me for being so naive, but I’ve never grown these before and really thought that they would grow down! So, I have either a)  acquired magical, gravity-defying beans, b) I have been extremely ignorant and have managed to overlook this simple fact or c) I actually planted them upside down! Ha ha… Let me know which it is (and if they’re really magic… what shall I do with them?).  I’ve always had a sneaky belief that Broad Beans Are Evil so I’m only growing them as an experiment anyway! Wouldn’t it be funny if I went from a hater to a lover? It would be especially funny if I marketed a new fragrance based on Broad Bean flowers… called “Implausible – A Fragrance For Her”

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25 thoughts on “Magic Beans

  1. Like you, one of the reasons I decided to grow broad beans this year is because I don’t actually like them! There is a dish you can make with them which I hope to try once mine have finally developed (though it does look like the blackflies have got them!) – can’t remember the name of the dish off-hand except that it is Egyptian. Actually, there might be two dishes – one of them is a dip.

    • I’m actually looking forward to picking the broad beans young and eating them fresh… I had bad experiences as a child with old, squeaky, overcooked beans that were as tough as boots! I love the colour of your flowers so I might look out for that variety next year.
      The dip sounds good… hopefully the rain will wash all the blackflies away!

      • Yes, young and fresh is much better than old and stringy!
        The dip I mentioned yesterday is as follows: broadbeans with a small amount of red lentils, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley. There are loads of other dips with beans, so I guess you could substitute any of them for broad beans.
        The variety of broad bean I’m growing is called Vicia faba ‘Crimson Flowered’ from Thompson and Morgan. I’ll let you know if they develop beyond the flower stage.

  2. PJ — I have done the same thing. Planted stuff I did NOT want to eat with the hopes of acquiring a taste for it. I now eat squash but still can’t quite do eggplant. I’m also growing asparagus but they tell me that won’t really produce in Florida so maybe I won’t have to eat it. Good luck on Implausible.

  3. Sometimes it’s just finding the right recipe to use to showcase the veg and hoping that it will be more inspiring when nurtured from a seed!
    Implausible For Her should be a massive international hit – look out for it in a store near you!

  4. I’m no fan of Broad Beans…but a client recently asked me to plant some her in garden and I have to confess to being amazed by just how beautiful they looked once flowering. I too may be converted for next year & just give away the beans :-)

  5. Broad bean perfume is a well kept secret. I tried growing an early crop in the polytunnel – wonderful flowers but no beans – our bees don’t wake up until June! However it was worth it for the wonderful scent.

  6. You know, I have found myself eating a lot more fruit and veggies since I started vegetable gardening. I think one reason is that fresh from the garden tastes SO MUCH BETTER than store bought produce! I can’t say I have ever planted anything i didnt like on purpose though, will have to try that next year! Great idea!

    • I try to keep an open mind about things I dislike – tastes change so I thought if I could manage to eat Broad Beans then turnips would be okay the year after. Thanks for saving me from the spam box!

  7. Pingback: Fava Beans & Manchego Crostini | A HEALTHY LIFE FOR ME

  8. I am totally with you. the flowers are just beautiful. I was suprised too that my broadbeans grew upside down though. I grew them last year for the first time and they were hanging down. so I thought this is normal. I checked the label and last years were called something like ” hangdown green”. if they put it in the name it must be the exemption. I realy like to eat broad beans. I just steam them in the pot, salt them and eat them as a starter. the pods open real easy when cooked. and it is fun ( and saves work) to eat them that way.

  9. Great post! After reading this, I will definitely put broad beans on my list for next year. I always buy them dried to make falafel from scratch, and I don’t see any reason why homegrown fava beans could not be homedried… I had no idea about the scent and fava beans attracting bees.

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