Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A Bounty of Beans

Now is the time to start thinking about sowing my first batch of Dwarf or French Beans.  I like to extend the growing season by having a few plants in containers in the greenhouse.  They come in all shapes and sizes each having their own special flavour.  I particularly like pencil thin beans, slim pods that hang in bunches from low-growing plants.  'Delinel' is a French 'filet' bean with a distinct flavour and heavy yield.

I won't be sowing outdoors till late April/early May, once the soil has warmed up and the chance of frosts is less.  The thing about sowing in pots is that you have to make sure the seeds don't rot in the wet compost.  To make sure this doesn't happen I mix in equal amounts of perlite to compost - this ensures the soil is free-draining.

 Each year I add a different variety to my collection - last year it was 'The Prince' which is a heavy-cropper with good flavour - this year it is 'Delinel' - of which I have heard good reports, but beans come in a few different colours to add a bit of interest.
Bean:Dwarf French Bean:Purple Teepee
Purple Teepee

Mont D'Or
After the initial sowing - if I can remember - I will sow a few beans each month outdoors from April to July - to get a continuation of crops.  If I sow them at 2in. intervals it means that I can thin out the weaker ones and also if the slugs decide to make a meal of them I will still have enough left for good crops.  Dwarf beans only produce for a short period so it is important to make several sowings.

It helps to pick the beans regularly when they are small, as soon as the beans start showing in the pods they become tough and stringy, and it helps to keep the plants producing.  All the beans require is a good, rich, soil and plenty of water.

Towards the end of the season I will plant some in pots in the greenhouse again to extend cropping into October.  I can't ever remember having a bad season with French Beans, as, unlike runner beans, they are self-fertile and don't rely on pollination.

August 2011

When do you start sowing your French Beans?

All photos Google images except the last one


  1. I am trying a variety called Blue Lake this year they are really tasty as someone on my plot gre them last year and i had a few.
    I dont normaly grow mine until the second week in april but in an attempt the use my green house for more than tomatoes and cucumbers this year after reading this i might get some on the go now for the greenhouse.
    great post as always Elaine

  2. I grow a mix of dwarf and climbers. I always start them off in root trainers in the greenhouse, but I'm leaving it a bit later this year. Last year I planted them out in May and we had frosts that killed off the first batch :( xx

  3. I've never had a bad year yet with beans, in fact, I'm still eating last years which have been stored in the freezer. I start mine off in pots to be transplanted when the risk of frost has gone.

  4. I'm growing the climbing ones 'Blue Lake' again and will sow direct late May and early June. Flighty xx

  5. Yum, I love beans. We don't start sowing them outside until mid-late May. We're going to try a 'stringless' variety this year. I grew purple ones a couple of years ago (can't remember the exact vareity now) and, although the purple pods were beautiful, the beans themselves were gray. Did you find that to be the case with yours?

  6. We've grown Delinel regularly but this year we are growing Royalty, Tendergreen and Sungold which will give us a purple, a green and a yellow variety. Our beans are always a banker crops for the freezer too especially when the peas fail to produce a good crop as they did last year.

  7. Hi Elaine,

    Yes I feel the need to start some beans off this weekend. Probably start them in the house then transfer them to the greenhouse just to be on the safe side...

  8. Lovely colourful pictures of the Beans. I will be sowing my French Beans (Cobra) direct outside in about mid to late April depending on how much the soil has warmed by then. They will be sown where my spuds were last year and will follow the green manure (Mustard). Successional sowing will follow once a month up until about August.

  9. Purple Teepee, one of my fave beans. I also grow Borlotti beans. Those will be planted next month. I like your idea of a few earlies coming on in pots though. Sowed Broad Beans today in modules.

  10. I enjoyed your post. I have very little experience growing beans but I've decided to expand this year and grow two varieties, a dwarf (purple queen) and a climber (cobra). I'm also growing peas for the first time this year, and imagine they're similar to growing beans? I'll probably sow some in pots in April.

  11. Great post. I'm growing beans for the first time this year. I'm just going to plant them outside. Do you preserve your beans?

  12. I LOVE beans - can't get enough of them. They freeze well too if you happen to get a glut. I've had Delinel before and they have performed well. This year I also have "Speedy" - I hope it lives up to its name. I probably won't sow any beans for another month or so, since I don't have a greenhouse.

  13. I probably won't be sowing any beans for at least six weeks...any earlier than that and they suffer when I plant them out. Growing them in a greenhouse is an idea though! I wonder if they'd like it in my conservatory ;)

  14. Your beans certainly look good! The ones in the supermarkets these days are dreadful.
    Depending on our weather I usually plant early June. We've had snow some years late May.
    Have a great weekend
    Hugs Rosemary...xox

  15. I always start them off at home. Then, when I take them to plant out the last couple of years we've had a cold spell so they suffer a bit from the shock then it seems to take quite a while for them to get going.

  16. I'm likely to grow too many beans again! I have a couple of dwarf beans and a climber but they're so gorgeous x

  17. I grow a variety called 'Contender'. It's been around a long time. I find a lot of the newer varieties grow too tall; Contender remains quite dwarf, and produces well. I'm not sure if it's available in the UK.

  18. I love beans. Dwarf & broad are my favourites.


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