They’re one of the easiest crops to grow and often one of the first you’ll harvest, so get them in the ground now spring has sprung. By now your soil, and the weather, will have warmed up enough to freely plant broad bean seed in the ground, with no need for cloches or greenhouse sowing. As long as they’re in a well-draining spot in relative shelter they’ll be fine.
If you have Okra, which has an aubergine-like taste, it can be started off indoors between now and April for a harvest in summer and autumn. Grow it in a greenhouse or outside in a container in a sheltered spot in warmer climates. Fill a tray with seed compost and tap it down to let it settle. Space seeds on the surface, cover with a thin layer of compost and water in. When the plants are big enough to handle in May to early June, transplant into 23-25cm (9-10in) pots, growing bags or the greenhouse border.
Start okra particularly wet soil, though, or claggy clay, you may want to still raise your beans indoors in pots to start with, before planting them out, nicely grown, in late spring. There are dwarf varieties that may not need staking and keep compact growth, such as ‘The Sutton’ and ‘Robin Hood’, but tall-growing varieties will need hefty staking or they’ll fall over.
There are a few problems you may encounter, meaning unhealthy plants and fewer beans to harvest, pesky blackfly being on! Pick them off as soon as you see them, pinching off the top tips of the plant if you need to when they cluster there. Otherwise Bug Clear spray is a good preventative measure. Make sure you water your beans well, too, as they may not set fruit if they’re too thirsty.