I was originally planning to plant garlic in most of these beds, but garlic ideally goes in on the shortest day of the year which I think is still a month away. Broad beans however, when planted in the Autumn, are I am told best sprouted and a couple of inches high by the first frosts. But not high enough to flower. Last year I think I got them a bit late, and the odd seed popped out of the soil as the frosts hit them.
All of these beds are pre-existing ones, except for the one on the right with the stones alongside it. Those stones came out of the ground as I was digging it. There are two rows of two bean varieties in the two larger beds (front right and front left), and one row of two varieties in each of the three long beds behind.
The beds were not amended with anything other than a covering layer of home-made compost, and were prepared solely by breaking up the soil after removing the grass/weeds that had grown over them since Spring or whenever whatever was in them was harvested. Two beans are planted together at each spot along each row, and the weakest will be either transplanted or discarded. I used the English RHS planting recommendations, which I think were 60cm between double rows, and around 23cm between each of the rows in the double rows, and 20 cm between each planting in along a row.
The selection criteria for now is whatever grows best, given no fertilisation other than the compost. And as this is the second year all these varieties (around 10) have been grown alongside, there should ideally be some visible sign of cross-pollination. Of course, they were completely neglected last year, so hopefully there was some cross-pollination. In any case, I came out of last year with more seed than went into it, so it wouldn't be a complete loss if cross-pollination between varieties is poor.
I'm hoping to find the time to get a paint brush and hand-pollinate maybe the first five plants in each row, perhaps as a limited but doable experiment that doesn't require too much time investment.