Broad Beans Can be sown outdoors in October in more southerly areas and they will remain as small plants until the following spring. Usually, sow in pots or modules in February and plant out in March or April in rows 45 cm apart with 15 cm between the plants. At the same time some more seed can be sown direct for a later crop, but if there are mice or squirrels around they will probably steal the beans before they can germinate. The latter can be stopped by placing fine wire mesh over the area and removing it before the plants grow through it. For mice, planting extra seed as replacements would be advised.
As they can fix their own nitrogen beans do not need much feeding, in fact too much nitrogen will reduce the flowering as will a lack of water while the plants are in flower. They are susceptible to Chocolate Spot a fungal disease, and Black Bean Aphids. If the latter are found, nip out the growing tips taking the Aphids away - the plants will probably have reached their final height by the time an attack occurs and the flowers are lower down on the stem. Also growing Borage as a companion plant acts as a deterrent. Shorter varieties may not need to be supported, but taller ones will need to be encircled with twine or netting to prevent them from being blown over.
Runner Beans are usually sown directly in May in a row or around a wig-wam of canes. The ground should have plenty of organic matter to hold the large amount of water these plants require. This can be prepared much earlier by digging out a trench and filling it with compost or even leafy green matter, then covered with the soil. If the ground is heavy and wet or to get an early start the seed can be raised in 7.5cm pots and the young plants taken to the bed when they are about 15cm. A few twiggy sticks will hold the young stems against the supports as they will not be used to the winds which may blow them over.