Gardening with Children

Family Zone

Things to do this Season

 

Why not grow Runner or French Beans?

 

If you are short of ground space or want to get the maximum vegetable yield from a small area why not plant some beans, they must be the ultimate and one of the easiest vertical vegetables to grow as well as looking very attractive, the bees love the flowers too.
 
Beans are perfect for children to sow and grow, capture their imagination in the garden with stories of Jack and the Beanstalk when you sow your ‘Magic’ beans, they are easy to germinate, and fascinating to watch as they quickly grow spiralling round and round canes, supports or netting.
 

Which beans should I choose

There are many varieties of Runner and French Beans available, producing white, lemon or orange flowers and green, white, yellow and even purple pods, both Runner and French Beans are available either as tall climbing or dwarf bush varieties. Dwarf Runner and French Beans are quicker to flower and will produce an earlier crop than the Climbing varieties.
 

Growing from seed

Early sowings of seeds can be made from April onwards in pots indoors, outdoor under cloches in May or direct where they are to grow until the end of June early July. Plant the seeds so that the ‘eye’ points downwards or to the side, germination takes between 7-14 days. Successive sowings will ensure a long harvesting period well into the Autumn.
 

Planting out Runner bean frames

Dwarf varieties can be grown in containers or even hanging baskets they need little or no support, whilst climbing varieties need tall and sturdy supports, either canes, Runner Bean support or netting, the plants can be quite heavy when laden with beans.
Beans prefer a moist rich soil and a sunny and sheltered position, dig in plenty of organic matter in Autumn and apply a general purpose fertiliser a couple of weeks before planting out. Use good compost in containers adding Rain Gel Water Storage granules to maintain the moisture and prevent them from drying out too quickly.
Beans are tender, harden off and plant out after all risk of frost, protect with fleece on cold nights.
Be prepared Slugs and Snail love tender bean plants apply Slug Gone around plants or Nemaslug to the soil.
 

Looking after your Beans

To get a good crop keep the soil moist, once the pods have formed water often especially in dry weather, container grown plants will benefit from feeding every other week as well as regular watering, applying a mulch will maintain the moisture. French Beans are self pollinating, Runner Beans rely on Bees, plant some Sweet Peas amongst your Beans to encourage them to pollinate your flowers, they will look attractive and smell wonderful too.
 

Harvesting

Pick your Beans as soon as they are ready, every other day is recommended, this will guarantee a long harvest, by allowing any beans to mature will stop new beans forming. French/Runner Beans are delicious eaten fresh but they can be stored in the fridge in a polythene bag for up to a week and are perfect for freezing to use later or if you have a glut.
 
Beans are an ornamental vegetable; grow them on an obelisk or over an arch, they make an attractive feature in any garden why not grow them amongst your flowers, a row will form a dense and attractive screen.
 
 
Runner Bean Tower
 

 

 

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