Green Food




How to Grow Beans

The treatment for all varieties of bean is fundamentally the same; a well drained soil, not too much animal manure, but plenty of phosphates which can be supplied in the form of bonemeal or super­phosphate are their main requirements. Some of the more tender types may be limited to the southern counties, unless cloche pro­tection is given in the early stages, due more to the shortness of the northern growing season than for any other reason. Elaborate and deeply dug trenches are sometimes made for beans, but if the soil is in a decent condition this is unnecessary. In fact on heavy clay soils unless a trench is well made and drained it may become a grave for the plants. Beans being legumes have the capacity of producing nitrogen­fixing nodules on their roots and actually add to the manurial value of soil, a fact which is used advantageously by the practice of cutting off tops after the crop has finished and following it with a leaf pro­ducing crop which enjoys the extra nitrates.

Broad Beans

Broad Beans are the hardiest of the beans, but do not enjoy the popularity they deserve because the pods are often allowed to stay too long on the plants, whilst beans bought on the market can give the beginner little idea of flavour of young beans boiled in the liquor in which bacon or a ham shank has been cooked. In the southern half of England seeds may be sown in autumn and the resultant plants allowed to stand outdoors all winter to produce an early crop. This practice is designed not only for earliness in cropping, but so that they will reach a stage where black fly, the worst enemy of the broad bean, can do them no harm. It is often recommended that seeds of broad beans be sown at six inches apart in a double row, but as they make an excellent wind­break and are one of the first vegetable crops to be sown, four rows instead of two provide more beans at a time when they are most welcome and give protection to any other early crops.

Not beans

 The actual sowing date will vary with the district and soil, but it can be generally be reckoned that for all practical purposes the first sowings can be made in the south in February and about a month later in the northern half of the country. There are two types and many varieties, the types are Longpod and Windsor. The Longpod being the hardiest is the type which should be sown in autumn for overwintering. The Windsors are better flavoured. Good varieties include: Longpods-Longfellow, Exhibition Longpod and Gillett's Imperial Longpod. Red Epicure is a distinct Longpod type, the rich chestnut-crimson seeds making it distinct, although these change to straw-colour when cooked. Windsors­I mperial Windsor, White and Green Windsor. The easiest way to sow the seed is to make a shallow trench 2 inches deep, scatter some bonemeal  on the bottom of trench and work it into the top inch or so with a fork. Tamp the surface of the disturbed soil with the head of a rake held vertically and sow on the levelled soil. Mice and slugs sometimes attack the beans when they become softened after a few days in the soil.  Subsequent cultivation consists of keeping them free from weeds, and in windy districts it may be necessary to put in a few stakes and stretch string along each side of the row. A close watch must be kept for black aphis which appears on the tender new growths and it is for this reason that it is advised to pinch out the top or growing point. This top, by the way, is an excellent vegetable and can be boiled and eaten like cabbage or other green vegetable. A certain care in timing is necessary for this, for if pinched out too early or too low down some of the blossom buds may be removed as well. On the other hand if delayed too long the fly may get established and be difficult to get rid of.

Runner Beans

These are a prolific crop and have the advantage that any surplus Runner Beans beans can be preserved for winter use either frozen, salted or bottled. They can be used as an ornamental screen. over a trellis or up a wall or grown as clumps in a flower border like sweet peas. Not nearly enough use is made of this f1ower-cum-vegetable arrangement, as in the case of runner beans some varieties have brick red flowers, one called Painted Lady is a bi-colour white and red, and Blue Lake an excellent stingless variety has bright blue flowers For ordinary use any well-drained soil will suit them,. but for exhibition purposes extra manure should be dug into a strip about 2ft. wide. When planted near a wall care must be taken to see that they do not dry out at the roots or they will not set the beans.  dropping often occurs during ~ period of dry weather, but a spray over the foliage in the evening will help to cure this tendency. Runners are not so hardy as broad beans and consequently cannot be sown until danger of frost is past and in the north ~his is a great disadvantage. Fortunately, it is easy to overcome this by sowing seeds thickly in a box of equal parts soil, peat and sand, placing them in a greenhouse, cold frame to germinate and then plant them out in their cropping positions III May.  They may be sown in single or double rows / clumps, and as they will grow up thin poles, pea sticks or string they are very adaptable. Three sticks or 7ft. canes may be arranged wigwam fashion and the tops tied together or two single rows planted 2ft. apart and the stakes inclined inwards. The advantage is that the beans Will hang straight and clear of the supports. and will not become   blemished, an important matter for the exhibitor.                       . Where no sticks or only short supports are available-say 2ft. high, allow the plants to climb up these and then cut the tops . off. If they are allowed to just be on the ground, the beans are  badly curled and in a wet season will rot. During the growing season they, like all other crops, respond to a weekly application of liquid manure, but except when grown for exhibition, seldom get this. They must have moisture at the roots, however, hence the advice to add more manure to retain it. A mulch of manure, compost, peat or grass mowing's along each side of the row and close up to the stem will greatly benefit the crop.

Climbing French Bean

This is a variant of the ordinary French or dwarf bean, it is not so vigorous as the scarlet runner but has the merit of producing about three times the number of beans to a given area as does the dwarf variety. Particularly useful in a cool or unheated greenhouse it crops earlier, more heavily and over a longer period than the dwarf French. Climbing beans can be grown in large pots and boxes or in the soil houses, cold frames or under cloches and should have much the same treatment as dahlias. They will, of course, go ahead then and in a normal season almost as well as in the warmer counties. Seeds are sown directly into the ground in double rows and spaced about 9 inches apart, a few extra being sown so that the resultant spare plants can be used to fill in gaps caused by losses.

Dwarf Beans

Are an excellent and profitable cloche crop as the plants are much larger with longer beans than when grown wholly outdoors, and anyone who has had difficulty in getting a worthwhile crop should give partial or entire protection. They revel in warmth, provided there is sufficient moisture at the roots, an attribute which makes them ideal subjects for growing for early use in a warm greenhouse. Six plants can be accommodated in a lO-inch pot sowing the seeds directly into the soil or as previously advised thickly in a box and transplant when the first leaf is formed. One of the most tender and probably the finest in flavour is the golden wax pod bean and I find this makes an ideal edging to tomatoes when they are grown on a raised bench. Simply press in the seed about 2 inches deep, about 9 inches apart, and when they grow allow them to hang downwards over ~he edge of the benches In this way they will not interfere with the main crop, in fact the tomatoes will benefit from the association. It is convenient to grow all the dwarf beans in the same way, i.e. to take out a shallow drill about 2 inches deep and the width of a spade in soil which has been previously well dug and manured. See Scarlet Runners. To exhibitors and those who like to grow something different and appreciate the subtlety of flavour available, I commernd the following types, all of which are obtainable in this country and can be grown easily in the south and with partial or complete protection in the colder districts. The Shelleasy, dwarf, early, red mottled pods and seed, use green as french bean, dry seed for winter use. Tiny green snap bean, miniature bean, the whole pods being used. The best varieties for general use are Masterpiece, The Prince and the selected strain of Canadian Wonder. A new variety named Glamis raised in Scotland is proving particularly suitable for the northern part of the British Isles and is also useful for freezing. Blue Coco is more or less of a novelty having deep blue pods and flowers. Of excellent flavour the beans can be cooked whole.

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