food garden

Broad beans / Boerbone

These large beans are also known as fava beans. In South Africa they are called Boerbone. I love growing broad beans because they are not really available in grocery stores. Broad beans are one of the first vegetables ready for harvest in the spring. The fresh, green taste of the beans is similar to asparagus, peas and leeks and suits this season perfectly. Parmesan and mint are good companions. Use the beans in omelettes, quiche and salads. The younger, smaller beans can be eaten with the pod, but if they are bigger they are used as shelling beans.



Plant broad bean seeds or seedlings in autumn to harvest in early spring.Remember to put sticks in next to the plant. Tie the plant to the sticks as it grows to prevent the tall, floppy stems from breaking. When small bean pods start appearing at the bottom of the stem, you need to pinch out the growing tips at the top of the stems. The plant will put its energy into former more beans instead of growing taller and taller.


My broad beans have been growing through this long, wet and stormy winter and are ready for harvest now. Pick the beans when the pod feels full. Use scissors to cut the pods of the plant, to avoid damaging the stems. Open the pods to find the beans sitting snuggly in their foamelite packaging. The smaller beans can be used without peeling. Boil the bigger beans for a minute or two and the skins will slip of easily. When the plants are finished, cut of the stems and dig the roots back in to provide nitrogen to the soil.

Jamie Oliver’s Broad Bean and Pea Pesto

  • Smash a small handful of mint in a pestle and mortar.
  • Add 2 handfuls of cooked peas and broad beans and mash into a rough paste.
  • Squeeze in some lemon juice.
  • Now add a large handful of parmesan.
  • Add a drizzle of olive oil to make the paste moist. Lastly add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve on toasted bread.

Samantha van Riet

12 replies on “Broad beans / Boerbone”

I agree – broad beans are one of the most rewarding vegetables to grow, and delicious to eat. My only probem is trying to find ways to preserve them…

I have tried freezing them, but they even go off in the freezer. Any ideas?

Hi Dani. We usually eat all our broad beans, so I unfortunately don’t have a solution.
The made-up pesto should last longer in the fridge than the fresh beans. It would also help to stagger the planting,so that they don’t all ripen at the same time.

Hi, I planted my broad bean plant in early winter. They haven’t produced any beans. Its early spring now….and I’m not entirely sure what to do with the plant. I’m a beginner gardener and would really appreciate some advice. Should I cut my stems like you mentioned? Will the plant grow again or will I need to get new seedlings in early autumn?

Thank you for posting this it was very interesting!

Hello I’m in need of fava beans and as you mentioned in the article I can’t find them in stores. Do you have any suggestions on other places I could go to find them, or seeds to plant them? Asablief, I’m very desperate

Kind regards

Hi I’m simply intrigued by the article. Thanks so much. 3yrs later and yet still so helpful. I’m in the process of starting a 2 hectare organic farm in the Overberg. It was suggested that I plant some Boerbone. Your site is an amazing encouragement to. Do you know where I could get some Boerbone seed in Cape Town. Anyonevwho has suggestions can contact me via email. Have a blessed day. Phillip Engel.


I have read your comment on broadbeans in Sprig dated March 8,2016. I am pottering around with broadbeans in my garden. You are welcome to contact me at if you are still interested.



I have read your comment on broadbeans in Sprig dated March 8,2016. I am pottering around with broadbeans in my garden. You are welcome to contact me at if you are still interested.


Hi Daniel
In my country people love broad beans. So we have different ways to keep them . We peel them and keep in the freezer or we boil them with their white skins and conserve.

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