Broad bean plants, also known as fava beans, produce large, flat beans in the cool spring or fall season. Used fresh or dry, the beans have a rich, hearty flavour that goes well with a variety of food. Like other beans, broad beans create their own nitrogen in the soil when inoculated with a rhizobia bacteria prior to planting. The bacteria helps the roots create nitrogen in the soil, which produces healthy foliage. Only minimal fertilisation is required to supply other nutrients, as broad beans are light feeders.
Place the rhizobia inoculate powder in a paper bag. Use the amount recommended on the inoculate package.
Place the broad bean seeds inside the bag. Shake the bag lightly, thoroughly coating the seeds. Plant them immediately.
Fertilise the broad beans after the first pods begin forming on the plants. Apply 3 tbsp of a general-purpose 10-10-10 fertiliser per 10-foot row. Work the fertiliser into the top 3 to 4 inches of soil at a distance of 6 to 8 inches from the base of the plants.
You can purchase broad bean seeds that have already been inoculated. Bean inoculate is available from seed suppliers and garden centres.
Avoid fertilising before pod formation. Excessive nitrogen before flowering causes lush foliage growth but results in few pods.