The vegetable patch in the garden has been planted to provide us with some of the vegetables that we use a lot, or are more convenient to have close at hand, or are difficult for us to buy locally . I plant broad beans because I can never find broad beans which are sufficiently large in the shops in France.
The broad beans are planted in the autumn here and overwinter happily as they can take the short periods of cold that we get in the winter. They then take off rapidly in the spring and you can gather them before they get attacked by black fly. 2011 was so mild that I decided to plant a second crop in the early spring but despite constant treatment with soapy water the second sowing was ravaged by black fly and I swore, never again.
This winter brought unprecedented snow and sub zero temperatures in February and the broad beans were frozen and as limp as lettuce kept in a freezer. I was definitely not going to replant in the spring so once the weather improved I clipped off all the slimy leaves and left them alone. Some actually regrew, perhaps 40%.
The plants were healthy but it was not a heavy crop.
My desire for broad beans is to make a favourite meal. This requires not only shelling the fluffy outer coat of the beans but slicing each bean in two to remove the bean coating leaving the broad beans shiny and bright.
This is the total of my garden produce of broad beans for this year. Not a lot but a whole lot better than none.
Also I grow dill, primarily for my boghali polo which is a traditional Persian dish. The prepared broad beans are layered with the chopped dill and steamed together with rice, the mixture of flavours is superb.
Just before serving I decorate the rice with saffron, this time the saffron was also home grown (see my blog “I’m just mad about saffron”).
Baghali polo goes very well with plain yoghurt and can be served with either roast lamb or roast chicken although on its own it makes a good vegetarian dish served with yoghurt.
So this is why I grow broad beans. They take a lot of time to prepare like this but they freeze well. There are short cuts that can be taken.
When I lived in the U.K. I used to buy my broad beans and invite my sister over to watch Wimbledon on the television (she does not have her own). She would then sit and do the beans while she watched. She fell for it every year. Some people sip Pimms and eat strawberries and cream when they watch the tennis, others shell broad beans.