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