Growing French Beans

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How to Grow French Beans

If you’ve got plenty of water, it is always possible to have good supply of French Beans for the kitchen from the spring until the plants are cut down by the early Winter frosts. The most economical way to grow French beans is to make successional plantings, beginning about the first week in September, and making a sowing every three weeks right up till the end of Summer.

Earlier sowings may be made, but it must always be remembered that there is a possibility of the young plants being cut down by frosts, or of a cold spell coming in and retarding germination, with the result that the moisture present in the soil in the early Spring is liable to rot the seed.

Planting French beans

The ground must be properly prepared by trenching thoroughly, and a good dressing of lime added. All leguminous plants require lime, and only yield their best when this constituent is present in the soil. The lime should be applied at least a month before sowing the seed, and should be spread in little heaps on the ground and allowed to slake thoroughly. About a fortnight before planting, fork the lime lightly into the soil and add a good dressing of well-rotted stable manure. The ground needs to be thoroughly broken up, and the manure worked well down, not left within six inches of the surface.

This makes the roots go down in search of food, enables them to draw on the moisture from the lower layers of soil, and helps them to become thoroughly established.

French bean seed

Sow the seed of the Dwarf varieties, such as Perfect Bush, Magnum Bonum, or Canadian Wonder, in drills two feet apart, allowing four inches between the seeds. The Beans ca n be sown from 1 inches to 2 inches deep. The Climbing varieties, however, such as Epicure Runner, require 4 feet between the rows, and at least 6 inches between the plants in the rows. Do not plant too close, as it reduces the quantity and quality of the Beans. The ground must be well worked whilst the plants are growing so as to keep down the weeds, and a mulching of well-rotted stable manure is necessary in dry weather. Sow Runner Beans near a fence or building, and train the plants on strings or a trellis, otherwise sticks about 6 feet in length should be stuck in the rows, one to each plant, to support them. When they have reached the top their points may be pinched off or kept pinched back about a foot so that the stems may stand without support. Your beans take just 12 weeks to reach maturity.

French Beans, when growing, can absorb large quantities of water, but as stagnant water in the soil will kill the plants, good drainage is therefore necessary. Pick the Beans as they mature and do not allow the plant to go to seed, for this reduces the bearing period, the plants dying immediately after seeding. By giving our advice careful attention a liberal supply of good, fresh Beans may be had through the Summer and Autumn and the successional sowings keep supplies going until the plants are cut down by frost in the early Winter.

The treatment recommended above applies equally to the Wax Pod or Butter Beans, and some of these delicious Beans should be grown in every garden.

French Bean Varieties

French beans are available as dwarf that are suitable for growing in pots, or as climbers that will crop heavily even during hot weather, unlike runner beans. Some great varieties climbing and dwarf varieties:

Climbing French Bean varieties:

  • Cobra climbing bean – vigorous climbing with plump bean pods
  • Climbing French Bean Blauhilde – a reliable cropper

Dwarf French Bean varieties:

  • Borlotto Firetongue – stunning red and white pods
  • Dwarf French Bean Tendergreen – all about the flavor
  • Dwarf French bean Purple Queen – abundant harvests of eye-catching purple pods

Top French Bean Growing Tips

  • You can plant them nice and densely, the plants don’t mind too much and it will help shade out the weeds
  • Make sure you plan for a support for any climbing French bean varieties grown
  • Look out for Blackfly, especially on young plants, squirt them off with water or use an organic deterrent
  • At the end of the season, dig in the Beans in as they will provide Nitrogen back into the soil
  • The dwarf varieties are great in containers, pots and window boxes.

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