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Eeek! Broad Bean Woes

May 26, 2009

A less happy garden-themed post today.

Up until yesterday, I took great delight in how our broad beans were coming along. They were probably the healthiest and happiest looking plants in the garden and then the aphids stuck. Now my plants are looking really quite sorry for themselves….


See how the flowers have shriveled and turned black? They look almost as if they’ve been burnt and drop off if you touch them. Also, a few of the plants that have the shriveled flowers also look ‘rusty’ around the base of the stem….


As I’ve never grown broad beans before, I don’t know if this is normal or not but I’m guessing not. I’m not sure if it’s a result of 

a) the aphids 
b) the fact that, upon discovering the aphids, we sprayed them with some soapy water (it was only slightly soapy and I used ecover so I wouldn’t have thought it would damage the plant)
c) something else entirely……

So, can anyone help? Should I give up hope of getting any broad beans from these plants? I’ve now pinched out the tops of the taller plants in an attempt to deter further blackfly infestations but am I too late? I do have some unaffected plants remaining so if it is fatal, can anyone recommend how to save these ones?

Sorry for all the questions but I’m a desperate woman! 

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2009 4:08 pm

    Don’t give up on them yet Rebecca. Sometimes they shrivel and go black as they finish flowering, are there any little beans there?
    I have had blackfly on broad beans in the past and still had some beans so you may be lucky. I’ve also used very weak ecover washing up liquid on plants with greenfly and never had any ill effects so I doubt its due to that.

    I don’t know when you planted your beans but planting over wintering broad beans in November means they are a bit earlier and less prone to blackfy. I’ve used Aquadulce Claudia and got good crops. They won’t survive well in harsh winters but you should be fine where you are. Something to think about next year.

    • May 26, 2009 5:34 pm

      Thanks for your response willow. I didn’t see any baby beans where a couple of the flowers had fallen off but perhaps some of the others might have them – I can hope! We only planted our beans a couple of months ago so I’ll bear in mind your tip for planting early next year. Thanks again – hopefully I’ll at least get a few beans!

  2. May 26, 2009 6:30 pm

    Rebecca- I highly doubt aphids would have caused this…like willow, we have had terrible blackfly in the past and they have generaly survived. I would agree with willow that its probably that they are done flowering.

    I found this on flickr… that may give you some hope.

    • May 26, 2009 6:36 pm

      Thank you – and thanks for the link. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that I see some beans soon!

  3. May 26, 2009 8:25 pm

    I’m a broad bean novice too. I thought my plants looked diseased.. the flowers had all gone black.. but now i see there are little pods forming behind the black bits.. so perhaps it is normal?

    • May 27, 2009 7:21 am

      hopefully it will turn out ok in the end… just have to wait and see I guess. I’ve looked online and it’s the black bean aphid that has colonised our plants. The soapy water seems to be reducing their numbers somewhat but isn’t getting rid of them entirely.

  4. thegardensmallholder permalink
    May 29, 2009 2:59 pm

    I have been constantly checking ours and did spot some blackfly trying to colonise so I squished those fast, ants are a good indication. Trouble is, we have philadelphus shrubs growing everywhere in our garden and they are prone to blackfly attack.

    Touch wood our beans are OK (for now) and small pods are now forming, hopefully yours will be OK too x

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