Bean, Broad – Martock



Bean, Broad – Martock.  The Martock Bean is the oldest recorded vegetable variety in the world dating back to the 12th Century where it was grown in the village of Martock in Somerset. It is likely that this was the bean grown in Roman times and used for the Roman voting system – black beans for “NO” and brown beans for “YES”. The dried seeds of the Martock bean keep for many years and eventually turn black.

Last year I got a handful of pods from a gardener at the Botanic Garden where they are grown in their Viking Garden.

The plants grow like the broad bean but the pods and seeds are much smaller. One recognizable feature of this variety is the fact that the pods are pointing upwards on the plant.

The seeds can be eaten fresh like the broad bean seeds or dried and stored for the winter and then soaked overnight before cooking.

These are such little gems and will hopefully be grown by many gardeners and thus kept alive maybe for another few hundred years.


Sow directly in drills outdoors (5cm deep) from late February until late April.


20cm x 30cm

Approx. seed count: 20


Beans, Broad – Martock

Broad beans are very easy to grow and are also very hardy.  They are an ideal crop for overwintering and early spring.  Broad beans prefer an open site and reasonably fertile soil.


Sow seeds directly outdoors in drills about 4-5cm deep.

  1. Late September to early November for cropping in early summer (autumn types)
  2. Late February to late April for summer and autumn cropping (spring types)

Plant care

Provide a support that keeps the plants from falling over.


Harvest broad beans regularly from early summer onwards.

Potential problems

Black bean aphid

Pea and bean weevil

Chocolate spot

How much to grow?

Two to three square metres of each type

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You can see the Bean, Broad – Martock growing in some of the online videos we filmed in 2022:

Course: Complete Online Gardening Course – Green Vegetable Seeds