TOUGH, tasty and terrific – broad beans are all these praiseworthy adjectives and more, including power-packed with protein and vitamins.
Yet for all their dependability, few – if any – varieties can be sown in mid-summer to crop in autumn.
So enter Luz de Otono – with a little help from plant and seed firm Dobies – to rival Aquadulce, Bunyard’s Exhibition, Imperial Green Longpod and the like.
The Devon-based flower and veg suppliers, who are renowned for bringing new and exciting varieties and mixes to market, are now hailing the first-ever October and November-cropping broad bean.
A versatile variety, its young and tender beans can be plucked from the plants and eaten raw.
Try shelling the young beans straight from the stems – you’ll find between five and seven per pod – and eat on the spot.
Or shell the mature pods for a bright green pop of colour that’s perfect for risottos or pastas as the weather cools.
Broad beans also make super pulses for winter soups and stews or as a vitamin-rich side dish.
In addition, these beans are an excellent source of vegetable protein and fibre, rich in folic and B vitamins which are essential for nerve and blood cell development, cognitive function and energy.
Plants will reach 3ft-3ft 6in and are classed as half-hardy annuals, so they may need some protection later in the year from a July sowing.
The species – Vicia fava – has been grown since ancient times. The term “feeling full of beans” actually refers to broad beans and many Eastern European countries have developed their own beans – broads included – to replace meat.
Beans prefer a sunny location, to be well watered and to grow on soil enriched by compost and manure. As beans are legumes, they will naturally add nitrogen to the ground, thus making a valuable contribution to crop rotation.
Plug plants of Luz de Otono are despatched from mid-July from a June order – £11.99 for 30, £8.99 for 15, while a pack of 35 seeds costs £2.99.
■ http://www.dobies.co.uk/0844 9670303
■ Nutritious: Broad bean Luz de Otono, ready to set new boundaries for planting and picking.