Dwarf French Beans
Tasty, tender and bearing no resemblance to the tough (and often rather undesirable!) offerings from the supermarket. That’s home grown French beans, a terribly simple crop which you can still sow from seed now. There are lots of different varieties of French Beans available and I can’t say that I have any particular favourites because they are all so lovely!
If your gardening is restricted to a backyard or balcony you can still grow a great crop of French Beans as the relatively small plants will thrive in a container full of good quality multi-purpose compost. If growing French Beans in open ground or a container, choose a sunny or partially shaded spot – you will get a heavier crop with plenty of sun, but this is a crop which does better than most in light shade so if that much sought after ‘full sun’ is something you’ve not got, sow some anyway!
Keep an eye out for slugs and snails as the French Bean seeds germinate because they can be wrecked over night, especially when just an inch or two tall. If you are growing them in containers, I’d suggest installing a ring of copper tape around the top of the container (see here for more slug sorting ideas!) The seeds germinate without the need for extra heat at this time of year (though I do use a propagator if I’m sowing early for an extra-early crop) so just sow and water in well, moist soil is essential for the seed to swell, rupture the seed coat and then, within days they will start to appear above ground.
If your soil has been hit by recent heavy rains then apply a general feed once the plants have appeared as beans are hungry feeders and the rain has caused a lot of nutrients to be leached out of the soil in many gardens (including mine!)
Dwarf French Beans, unlike their climbing relatives, do not need any sort of support so are the ultimate in easy-maintenance. When they start to form beans remember that, like sweet peas, the more you pick, the more you get so do harvest the beans when lovely and tender – they’ll not only be particularly delicious but this prompt picking will also push the plants to produce more flowers…..mmmmm!