Dating back to the Bronze Age, broad beans are one of the earliest cultivated vegetables in history. Hardy and easy to grow, broad beans are rich in protein, vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and fiber. The plants grow 3 to 4 1/2 feet tall and can be planted in early spring, before most of your other vegetables. Broad bean plants will be the earliest producers in your vegetable garden, pushing out a healthy crop of beans as early as late May.
Select a site in your garden to plant the broad beans that receives full sunlight, is protected from high winds and has deep, well-draining soil. Although broad bean plants are adaptable to most soil types, ensure that the planting site won't become waterlogged.
Sow your broad bean seeds in mid to late March, as soon as you can work the soil. Dig a furrow into the soil that is 2 inches deep and 8 inches wide. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep in two rows on either side of the furrow, spacing the seeds about 10 inches apart.
Spread a nitrogen fertilizer onto the soil about one week after sowing the seeds. Follow the dosage instructions on the label.
Water the broad bean seeds right before the soil dries out. Do not over-water the seeds or allow them to sit in pooled water.
Remove any weeds by hand to avoid harming the broad bean plants' shallow root systems. Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic compost around the broad bean plants.
Insert four stakes or canes that are about 5 feet tall at the corners of the area where you've planted your broad beans. Stretch wire mesh around the four canes and secure it to the canes using twist ties or twine. This will give the broad bean plants support as they grow.
Pinch off any side shoots at the base of the broad bean plant. Pinch off the tops of the stems after the broad bean plants grow to about 3 feet tall to help prevent aphid infestations.
Plant companions such as potatoes, corn, celery, strawberries and cucumbers in your garden around the broad bean plants. Don't plant garlic or onions near the broad beans.