No pods on broad beans

Some gardeners are concerned because their peas are producing pods while their broad beans are not, although the plants are producing lots of flowers.
There is a difference in pollination methods between these two legumes. Garden peas are self-pollinating, and pollination occurs before the flowers open, so failure of pods to form is due either to cold or light frost damaging the blossoms, or the weather being too warm.
According to the Seed Savers’ Handbook, broad beans are partly self-pollinated and partly cross-pollinated, but we have noticed that our broad beans don’t form pods until bees are around. If it is too cold or too windy for bees to be out and about, the flowers die off without forming pods. Broad beans are also reluctant to set pods when the weather is too warm, but if it is still cool enough for peas to form pods, the problem is more likely to be a lack of insect activity. Keep the soil damp and give them a drink of seaweed extract tea. The potassium in that does help fruit/seed production. Oh, and make sure the bed is mulched – apply it early in the morning to keep the soil cooler for them.
There is a theory that removing the growing tips when they start to flower helps pod set. I have tried removing the growing tips on half of the plants and leaving the rest to grow naturally. It didn’t make any noticeable difference to pod setting.
If your broad bean plants haven’t been setting pods, get a medium-sized (about No 5) artist’s paint brush with soft bristles, and use it dry to ‘tickle’ the inside of the flowers to spread some pollen. If that doesn’t produce results, Have a chat with your seed supplier.

Broad beans and peas

If you live in a frost area, make a note of when you sow peas, sweet peas or broad beans and when they start to flower. The foliage of these legumes is frost hardy, but the flowers are not. Yet, they do not crop well when temperatures are too warm. Peas can take from 7 to 10 weeks to produce flowers, and broad beans can take from 7 to 13 weeks to produce flowers, depending on local temperatures. Sowing too early or too late for local conditions can result in a disappointing crop. As a general rule where frosts occur, do not sow seed until 10 weeks before the usual last frosts in your area. If you have unusually late frosts, you can protect your plants with a temporary plastic canopy, if a frost is predicted.
It is too late to grow broad beans as a crop in warmer areas, but they can be sown in all areas as a green manure crop where you intend to sow tomatoes next spring. Broad beans inhibit the growth of fusarium wilt – a fungal soil disease that can affect a wide range of plants, including tomatoes. If grown as a green manure, the plants are slashed when knee high. Broad bean seed sold for green manures may be called fava, or faba, bean.
Peas, broad beans (and sweet peas) like a humus-rich soil with a pH of around 6.5. They will need an application of complete organic fertiliser (see post on Fixing nitrogen). Legumes also need the presence of molybdenum and cobalt in soil for good growth, and an application of seaweed extract tea to the bed before sowing, will ensure these trace elements are available.
Try to avoid periods of heavy rain when sowing legumes because they can rot before germinating in cold conditions. Having said that, we had a 98% germination rate for our peas that endured a week of heavy rain after sowing in a raised bed. The seed had been saved from last year’s crop and had not been treated with anything. I am at a loss to understand why major seed manufacturers feel the need to coat their legume seeds with toxic fungicides.