Yesterday, I sowed my first round of beans outdoors against the trellis at the back of our house. Don’t laugh, but I really struggle to grow great beans. I actually find the simplest of veggies the most difficult to grow. Last summer, we had about five times as many melons as pumpkins, which is why I decided to give them the same treatment and use black plastic underneath (see yesterday’s post). With beans, the main problem for me is that they always end up being munched by snails and snails as soon as they surface. A few years ago, I started raising them in punnets for transplanting later on, with success. This year, I decided to sow some beans direct and wait to see what happens. I can always sow some on my heat pad in ten or so days if they fail. Beans are very easy to raise from seed and it’s best to sow them direct so you don’t interfere with the roots. If you’re really stuck, short on time or it’s getting late in the season, you can always purchase seedlings from the garden centre for transplanting into your garden.
Beans like warm weather, so it’s generally fine to start them soon after Labour Weekend. I’ve always found I have better luck in November, when night time temperatures are a bit warmer. There are so many different varieties of beans that I’ve grouped them into three categories:
Climbing – These need support, such as a trellis, obelisk or a fence. This year, I’m growing Blue Lake Runner (Kings Seeds), as well as Stringless Scarlet and Scarlet Runner (both from Yates)
Dwarf – These don’t need support and are great for smaller gardens. Despite being short, they can be extremely prolific. This year, I’m growing “Dwarf French Hiscock” (Egmont) and “Dwarf Top Crop” (Yates)
Exotic – These need very hot temperatures to flourish. This year, I’m growing snake beans (“Yard Long Runner” from Kings Seeds. The variety “Asian Winged” (Kings Seeds) was very popular amongst Asian customers when I ran a boutique plant nursery last year. My Fijian customers loved “Boda” beans, which are a bit like broad beans and used in curries. Seeds are very hard to come by. I was lucky to be given some by our neighbour Prakash. I’m going to see if I can get a few seeds from him so I can grow this variety myself and start saving seeds from my plants so I can continue the strain.
Here are some growing tips:
· Beware of slugs and snails, who love munching young, tender seedlings!
· Don’t start exotic varieties too early as they need very warm weather in order to grow well. I only start my snake beans in mid-November on the heat pad indoors and plant them outside in December. Once the weather is warm enough, they will grow quickly
· Like all fruiting crops, beans prefer a sunny spot
· Work some compost, sheep pellets and fertiliser into the soil prior to sowing or planting
· Beans produce flowers which need to be pollinated in order for fruit to form, so plant some flowers nearby to help attract bees
· Liquid feed plants weekly to promote growth, flowering and fruiting. This year, I’m going to use Yates Thrive Tomato Liquid Plant Food on my beans, which is suitable for all fruiting crops
· Harvest beans daily to encourage further fruiting
Has anyone else started their beans yet? What varieties are you growing this season?
Unfortunately I don’t have a photo to accompany this post as my phone is dead. I need to either get it repaired or replaced.