Broad beans won’t grow.

Community Community General Gardening Vegetables Broad beans won’t grow.

This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  compostpope 9 years, 3 months ago.

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    I can never manage to grow broad beans and I can’t work out why. I have tried in trays and directly sown in the ground but without success.
    Any thoughts?



     Seems odd, if you have tried in a variety of ways.

    What seed, how old is the seed, how long are you giving them to germinate (they take at least three weeks to emerge and sometimes longer in winter) and is there evidence of mice in your outdoor beds, which may be eating the seeds? In trays on a windowsill really should work but again, how long are you waiting?


    Alan McAteer

    Try using a dibber and make a hole 10 cms deeps, drop a seed into the hole and then stamp on it with the heel of your boot. Should grow…I have sown miles of rows of beans using this technique and it has worked every time. Double row with 15cm spacing either way.




    ..I’m still waiting!! It could be a bad seed packet as I used the same one for direct sowing and in module. I will try again with a new one, direct in the ground. The soil is quite clayey, should I mulch with compost? There are a few voles about but they normally keep ‘munching’ to a minimum.



    Dragonette. When exactly did you plant these beans?



    Hi Dragonette.
    I have lots of field voles on my plot and they’ve been eating a lot of broad bean seeds this spring! Perhaps they’re hungrier than normal because of the long winter. After re-sowing, I covered the bed tightly with fleece and this seems to have kept the voles out – the plants are now growing well under the fleece.
    If voles are your problem then maybe sowing in autumn is better as there is lots of other food around at this time and once established the plants are very tough.



    I planted the seeds a month ago. I think the soil is too dry because it hasn’t rained much here and I used a thick fleece. I have found several seeds on the soil, ‘sent back’ from the dry clay. 2 are actually growing! It wasn’t the voles, but my lack of mulching and watering + not planting them deep enough.

    I will try again this weekend!

    Many thanks for all your input, very useful.

    Kind regards




    I don’t believe your lack of success is due to not mulching, I’m doubtful about the lack of water. I’m not sure if we always need to be so exact about the depth of planting but you have not said how deep you planted so we can’t be sure either way. I think something else is could be wrong and if you don’t find out what you will only end up with another failed crop and that would be a shame.

    I’m in my first year of using Charle’s methods. I planted my broad beans 5cm deep direct in a 5 to 7cm mulch of garden compost on top of clay soil without fleece on the 7th March – somewhat earlier than I do usually, having read his advice to plant in February because they are so hardy.

    Winter promptly came back with a vengeance for the rest of March and on 7th April with no trace of a bean to be seen it was clear that they were not as tolerant of the cold as he’d said or perhaps his garden lies in some weirdly benign weather pocket, or more likely he just enjoys giving bad advice to people and he’s set up this entire web-site complete with invented postings and forged photos claiming success by his “method” to fool poor unsuspecting novices like me into planting their beans too early…..

    So, with a heavy sense of foreboding I decided to plant my peas (grown in modules for the first time this year on his advice – so obviously also doomed to fail) in the now-empty bed and covered with fleece. Fleece is also advocated by God Flowerdew so I knew at least that bit of Dowding wisdom had a grain of truth.

    Two weeks later the fleece came off to reveal a really lovely mixed bed of peas and healthy beans which I then had to cheerfully(!)transplant to avoid later competition. So the morale of the tale is twofold – broad beans can take an amazingly long time to germinate under cold conditions (in this case 6 weeks), and that actually Charles does know a thing or two!

    So it might be worth waiting just a bit longer or having a gentle poke about to see if there’s any action just under the soil surface. Having said this I also had a look for mine after a couple of weeks and couldn’t find a trace of them (mind you, it was snowing at the time and maybe I didn’t do as much scrabbling around in the compost as I could have). Back in March I’d also planted a few beans in a bed without a compost mulch or fleece – they’ve also come up but are smaller than those that had two weeks of fleece clearly showing that Charles also knows his stuff about the benefits of fleece and that more importantly there should also be hope for yours without mulch (think of all those poor gardeners who are still slaves to the spade who never mulch – they still get a crop!). I’d be surprised if your clay soil is too dry – I should think even thick fleece should let water through, my clay is often dry on the surface but holds the moisture well underneath. Presumably the soil was not bone dry before you sowed the seeds and covered with the fleece. Did you water the soil before you covered with the fleece?

    As you’ve found some evidence of germination the supplier may not be at fault although given the fact those grown in trays also did not grow is a bit suspicious… What soil did you put in the trays, where did put them to grow (greenhouse, windowsill, outside etc) and could you have over-watered?

    As Charles said earlier “more detail needed” (ie HOW DEEP DID YOU PLANT THEM??)and he’s right more often than not, as I’m beginning to realise…

    Compostpope …or perhaps not, if this is just one more of those fake postings??

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