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French Beans

 

EASE OF GROWING: (Scale 1-5): 3

HOW TIME CONSUMING:

French beans are fairly time consuming. Time spent preparing the soil in the winter will be well repaid later. You will need to water in dry spells and could be picking beans daily in the height of summer.

RECOMMENDED VARIETIES:

‘Purple Teepee’ (Dwarf)

‘Maxi’ (Dwarf)

‘Neckar Queen’ (Climbing)

HOME GROWN VS SUPERMARKET:

French beans are expensive to buy in the supermarket unless you buy them frozen. There is a pleasure to be derived from picking your own beans in the sunshine that simply does not compare to buying in a supermarket. Freshly picked beans taste delicious too.

BEST SITES AND SOILS:

French beans need a rich fertile, moist retentive soil to thrive. Dig in loads of well rotted organic matter in late winter. Climbing beans will require a support to grow up which needs to be strong to hold the crop. In Stephanie’s kitchen garden we also erect a chicken wire barrier around our beans to prevent pigeons and mice from tucking in.

WHEN TO SOW:

Sow in a greenhouse at the end of March in rootrainers.   Transfer to a cold frame in mid April to harden off before planting out side in May when the last frosts have passed.

DISTANCE BETWEEN PLANTS:

Plants should be spaced at 6 inches apart for dwarf bean varieties and 8 inches apart for climbing french beans.

WHEN TO HARVEST:

Start harvesting as soon as the first beans appear from late June. Make sure you pick the beans regularly and when they are small as they will soon become mammoth beans that do not taste as good.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Pinch out the top of climbing beans when they reach the top of the support. This will encourage the plants to put their energy into producing more beans.

PROBLEMS TO LOOK OUT FOR:

Pigeons and mice love to eat our bean seeds and young bean plants in Stephanie’s kitchen garden. We always start our beans off in rootrainers before planting out. We also use chicken wire to prevent young plants being eaten.

Unexpected late frosts can damage young plants. Have your fleece ready in case a frost is forecast.

 

 

Meet the Author: Jo Blackwell
Jo  Blackwell

Jo Blackwell is new on the Harrod Horticultural block and has recently taken over her post as Horticultural Advisor and Kitchen Gardener in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden. She caught the gardening bug when she bought her first home 18 years ago.  Her first greenhouse soon followed and she later gained an allotment, where she grows her own organic fruit and vegetables.

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