Mr Fothergill?s Nation of Gardeners has found that sowing broad beans in autumn produces stronger and more resilient beans with a longer cropping period.
The team of amateur gardeners are based in 16 regions across the country and receive a parcel each month from the company to find out what grows best when and where.
The Nation of Gardeners received Mr Fothergill?s Broad Bean Aguadulce seeds in their first parcel in October and again in March, with the intention of comparing autumn sowing with spring.
Whilst the spring sown beans were quick to produce flowers (on average they appeared 75 days faster than the autumn ones), the gardeners reached the consensus that the autumn broad beans were not only stronger than the leggy and spindly spring plants but that they also cropped for longer.
The first beans from autumn sowing appeared in Devon in mid-February and the rest of the country soon followed suit with the gardeners harvested a plentiful crop on a daily basis and they continued to be inundated throughout June and beyond.
Mr Fothergill?s Seeds commercial director, Tim Jeffries, commented: ?Most gardeners sow broad beans in spring. We wanted the Nation of Gardeners to explore the potential benefits of autumn versus spring sowing and the results have definitely been interesting. The majority of our gardeners reported back that their autumn sowing had a longer cropping period with tastier results. This certainly makes a good case for everyone doing autumn sowing!”
Good overwintering broad bean varieties include; Aguadulce, Bunyards Exhibition, The Sutton, Witkiem (Vroma) and Superaguadulce.
Mr Fothergill?s Nation of Gardeners has now been running from 12 months and the parcels? content has ranged from windowsill planting of salads and herbs, to bare root perennials, ?grow your veg? items and, most recently, late sown annuals.