French beans (dwarf/climbing)

French beans (dwarf/climbing)

French beans will succeed in most soils, but they hate heavy clay. For really good results, dig your soil well and rake it to produce a fine tilth – then apply a balanced fertiliser, such as fish blood and bone, 7-10 days prior to sowing. Always protect your seedlings from slugs.

Sowing time

April-May.

Crop care

Hoe between the plants regularly to keep weeds down during the early stages of your beans’ life. Support the plants with short twigs or pea sticks to prevent them from toppling over, using twiggy branches or netting for the climbing varieties. Water the plants well if the weather turns dry during or after the flowering period, and mulch around the stems in June to help retain water in the soil. Once the pods have been harvested, apply a liquid feed so that you can get a second crop too.

Harvesting

You can start picking when the pods are 4” long. A pod is ready if it snaps easily when you bend it, but before the telltale bulges of maturity appear along its length. Pick several times a week to prevent the pods from maturing. Cropping should go on for 5-7 weeks. After harvesting, cut off the stems at soil level. Leave the roots in the ground to release nitrogen into the soil – great for your next crop!