Legumes are plants with seed pods that split into two halves. Edible seeds from plants in the legume family include beans, peas, lentils, soybeans and peanuts. At Copas Farms we grow Broad Beans, Runner Beans, French Beans (an ideal alternative to avoid the stringy bits in Runner Beans), Borlotti Beans (the beans have a striking colour) and Peas in the Pod.
All the legumes are grown on the flat with overhead irrigation, with the exception of the Runner Beans which are grown on raised beds with trickle irrigation lines to aid their vigour. As Runner, French and Borlotti Beans are susceptible to frost, these are planted in the late Spring, hopefully after the last frost. Broad Beans and Peas are frost hardy so they can be planted earlier in the Spring which helps to extend the season. The first Broad Beans are planted in the Autumn to further extend the season. However, these rely on a reasonable dry Winter otherwise they will rot prior to immerging.
Broad Beans, French Beans and Borlotti Beans are self-supporting and are grown at row spacing of approximately 60cm. Peas generally need support and therefore at Copas Farms we grow them close together so that they will support each other. However, this does have the disadvantage of making them more difficult to pick. For Runner Beans we use canes erected in a wigwam shape to support the plants and present them nicely.
VARIETIES GROWN AT COPAS FARMS PICK YOUR OWN:
- Broad Bean: Witkien Manita
- Runner Beans: Enorma-Elite and White Energo Snowy
- Dwarf French Beans: Laguna, Scylla and Green Arrow
- Peas in the Pod: Onward and Ambassador
PICKING AND STORING
- Pick carefully making sure that you do not pull up the whole plant. Pick beans individually leaving the small ones to mature. With Runner Beans only pick beans that are at least 23cm long.
- Place beans in a bag all the same way up as this makes it easier for ‘topping’ and ‘tailing’ later.
- The prices quoted is for Peas in the Pod. Loose peas are charged double!
- Carefully remove pods from the plant and try to avoid damage as more pods will grow.
- Once picked keep beans and peas in a cool place until ready to use.
- Once podded, loose Broad Beans and Peas freeze well. Runner Beans and French Beans benefit from blanching prior to freezing.
Legumes are among our most nutritious plant foods; high in protein, B-complex vitamins, iron, potassium, and other minerals. They contain a complex carbohydrate which is slowly digested and absorbed. A diet rich in legumes has been shown to help reduce blood cholesterol, blood pressure and regulate bowel function.
- The World Database of Legumes (compiled by the International Legume Database & Information Service) currently contains an incredible 19,000 taxa (species, subspecies and varieties).
- Legumes are grown agriculturally primarily for their grain (e.g. beans, lentils or pulses), for livestock forage and as soil-enhancing green manure (putting nutrients back into the soil).
- Legumes even come in the form of trees, like the Locust Tree (Gleditsia, Robinia) or the Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus), which are sometimes used in permaculture food forests.
- Legumes are among one of the best sources of protein in the plant kingdom.
- The Latin word legumin, or legume describes a leguminous plant with the word coming from legere – to gather.
COOKING AND EATING
Available year round, green beans are a nutritious addition to any meal. Before cooking green beans, wash them thoroughly in clean water and remove any woody stems from the end of the bean with either a sharp knife or by snapping it off. With Broad Beans the beans are removed from their cosy pod.
Ideally you do not want to overcook beans, keeping just a touch of crispness. You can either cook them in boiling lightly salted water, steam them (a good way to maintain the lovely green colour) or microwave.
As well as the traditional side vegetable accompaniment to meats, poultry and fish, beans can also be quickly blanched before being tossed into salads.
Sweet and tender, quick to cook, and incredibly versatile, fresh peas are a perfect vegetable. The peas need to be removed from the pod prior to cooking (an extremely satisfying task!) and, like beans, peas can be cooked by either boiling or steaming or popping in the microwave. But whichever way you choose you don’t want to overcook them.
Peas mild sweetness pairs well with many different flavours, including cured meats like bacon, prosciutto or chorizo. Other perfect pairings include mint, spring onions, asparagus, carrots and new potatoes.