French Beans point their origins to South America. They can have a dwarf or climbing growing habit with dwarf variety’s height being no more than 50cm but climbers can reach as far as 3 metres.
Here's our guide to growing French Beans:
How, Where & When to Grow French Beans
Spring varieties are sown in February/March or even as late as early May. Start seeds under protection in 9cm pots or sow direct outdoors after all signs of frost have past. Germination takes about 21 days. They prefer a well-drained soil with organic matter dug in the autumn as well as a sunny sheltered position.
April indoors/under cloches, May to mid-July outdoors. They will need support using canes and maybe netting if you wish. Keep moist and the area weed free.
An alternative way to grow beans is as part of what's known as the '3 sisters'. An introduction to the 3 sisters, these are climbing beans, pumpkins/squash and corn which when grown together form an interconnected plant guild. The beans add nitrogen to the soil for the pumpkins/ squash and anchor the corn, protecting it from winds. The corn acts as a living trellis for the beans to climb, the pumpkins or squash keep the other plants roots cool and moist acting as a living mulch. A very space efficient approach!
Sow 2 seeds together 50mm deep, 25cm apart. If in rows allow 45cm between rows. Water well until germination occurs, then thin to strongest plant.
Water regularly during dry spells and on the onset of flowers, start a weekly high potash feed. Black bean fly can form large colonies sucking sap and weakening the plants. Pinch out soft tips and spray heavy infestation with suitable pesticide. Rust can be a problem on Broad Beans later in the growing season. It is a fungal disease spread by the rain and makes the plants look as if they are going rusty. It grows rapidly in warm wet conditions causing leaf drop and possibly reduce the size of the pods.
French beans should be harvested whilst they are big enough to use and tender to use. After harvesting put the stalks on the compost heap and leave the roots in the ground to decompose. Regularly pick beans to maintain cropping and pick before you can see the bean shape inside to get the best bean. They are legumes, and capture their own nitrogen in their root nodules, thereby providing a free and natural boost to your soil!
Beans are an excellent vegetable source of protein and fibre. This may be a winning combination for weight loss.
Beans offer so much more to a dish than just boiling or steaming them. You could try following how the Italians use beans in a low calorie Risotto Verde, try a more unusual way to have beans on toast and try smashed beans on toast for a healthy alternative, or for a light summer meal try a bean and fennel salad…sow many choices!
If you're thinking of sowing other vegetable and herb seeds, discover more of our growing guides.
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