Borlotti Beans, point their origins to South America. They can have a dwarf or climbing growing habit with dwarf variety’s height being no more than 50cm but climbers can reach as far as 3 metres.
Here's our guide to growing Borlotti Beans:
How, Where & When to Grow Borlotti Beans
Autumn varieties are sown in October/November, Spring varieties are sown in February/March or even as late as early May. Start seeds under protection in 9cm pots or sow direct outdoors after all signs of frost have past. Germination takes about 21 days. They prefer a well-drained soil with organic matter dug in the autumn as well as a sunny sheltered position.
In May, soak Borlotti bean seeds in warm water for an hour or so to aid germination. An alternative way to grow beans is as part of what's known as the '3 sisters'. An introduction to the 3 sisters, these are climbing beans, pumpkins/squash and corn which when grown together form an interconnected plant guild. The beans add nitrogen to the soil for the pumpkins/ squash and anchor the corn, protecting it from winds. The corn acts as a living trellis for the beans to climb, the pumpkins or squash keep the other plants roots cool and moist acting as a living mulch. A very space efficient approach!
In a prepared seedbed sow 2 seeds together 5cm deep spacing 25cm apart and 60cm between rows.
When big enough to handle, remove the weaker seedling. They are hungry plants so when planting put a lot of organic matter at the roots. Feed with a high potash fertilizer 2 or 3 times when in flower. Support will be needed either with canes or a wigwam of sticks etc as they can grow to 6ft.
When to Harvest Borlotti Beans
Borlotti beans are ready to harvest between July to October when the plants have coloured up. The pods can also be left on the plant to mature and dry out.
Borlotti beans are an excellent vegetable source of protein and fibre. This may be a winning combination for weight loss.
Borlotti beans offer so much more to a dish than just boiling or steaming them. You could try following how the Italians use beans in a low calorie Risotto Verde, try a more unusual way to have beans on toast and try smashed beans on toast for a healthy alternative, or for a light summer meal try a bean and fennel salad…sow many choices!
If you're thinking of sowing other vegetable and herb seeds, discover more of our growing guides.