Broad beans is a blog published in the Witness under the title Our Green Home.
Sugar beans are a major source of protein for many South Africans, especially the poor and vegetarians; however there are problems. The price has increased sharply, in part because of the drought; the price of seed of new varieties has shot up since major seed companies have become involved with new supposedly disease resistant hybrids, and mildew and other pests have caused poor yields in some cases.
Retail prices have increased by over 70% in the last six months.
Beans in general have large amounts of soluble fibre making them the perfect food for those who suffer from raised blood sugar, a huge problem in South Africa; by forming a gel in the gut they slow down the absorption of the refined carbohydrates like white rice that we have come to love. Contrary to their name, sugar beans are the perfect food for diabetics; but that price increase…
There is an alternative to sugar beans; broad beans have an even higher proportion of protein; in fact, at 25% the highest of all legumes. They are simple to grow and go on bearing for months; autumn is the time to plant them.
The seed is relatively expensive too, but if you keep back a few pods at the end of the season, they will grow readily next season. We have found that our own seed germinates far better for some reason than the bought seed which should be soaked between damp sheets of paper for a few days. Plus, broad beans as far as we can tell don’t seem to be prone to the diseases of sugar beans. We have had no problems with aphids, white fly or rust. There’s absolutely no need to spray them as is required with sugar beans, making them doubly perfect for the green garden.
Soil should not be heavily fertilised as legumes produce nitrogen for the soil; they are the perfect crop to follow maize, for example. In our case the hens have picked the area between the mealies clean leaving their droppings; together with ordinary compost that is more than sufficient. They will need to be watered through the winter; the hens show no interest in the plants as with green beans.
They need to be supported; a simple frame of treated ntingu poles or 5mm round bar is perfect, lasting for years.
Broad beans are unique in one other important way; they are the only natural source of a phytochemical called dopa, the precursor to dopamine. Preliminary investigations published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research suggest that broad beans have “tremendous applications in the prevention and treatment of highly prevalent Parkinson’s disease, cancer and cardiovascular conditions.”
Harvest your broad beans when they are still relatively young; like most vegetables they aren’t very nice once they are old; we haven’t tried drying them but I’m sure one could for year round availability. Our plan is use any excess as a substitute for laying mash; that’s yet to be tested.
Did you find this page interesting? How about forwarding it to a friend, or book and food junkie. Or, better still, Face Book or Twitter it.
56 Groenekloof Rd,
What's this site about?
Bernie's choice foods
Bernie's rainwater harvest