Best Way to Grow French Beans

French beans, also called dwarf beans or bush beans, are an extremely useful bean crop for container growing. They take up little space and produce a high reward because there is absolutely no waste – the pods are eaten whole.

The sweet flavour of French beans is unlike that of any other type of bean. Being completely stringless, they can be picked while young to be thinly sliced and eaten raw, but it is more usual to grow them on to full size and lightly boil or steam them for serving as a side vegetable. If you harvest a serving quantity and cook them immediately, none of the flavour and nutritional content is lost between picking and cooking. Unlike runner and broad beans, which become coarse with age and excessive size, these dwarf varieties stay beautifully sweet, tender and delicious on the plant. Another distinct advantage is that the more you pick, the more the plant continues to produce – it is not unusual to be able to gather at least four crops from one plant, given the right growing conditions.

Selecting French beans for indoor growing

The smallest cultivars suitable for growing indoors in limited space are Limelight and Royal Burgundy, which both reach a height of about 12in (30cm). Royal Burgundy may slightly exceed this if conditions are to its liking. It produces round beanpods; Limelight is a flat-podded variety.

Sowing and germination

French beans require a well-drained soil with a little lime. They must be grown in containers with drainage holes in the bottom; solid containers with crocks or gravel at the base do not allow for sufficient drainage. A growing mixture of soil, peat, sand and humus is to be specially recommended for these beans, although a commercially-produced soil-based compost is an acceptable alternative. In either case, increase the lime content by sprinkling on and mixing in a little powdered garden lime or, if you favour making use of kitchen waste, add a small amount of finely-pulverized eggshells.

Start the beans in containers large enough to allow 3in (8cm) between the young plants if you plan to pot them into larger containers, or 6in (15cm) apart if you sow them direct into the container in which they will mature. Make a hole 2in (5cm) deep in the soil mixture and insert one seed. Fill the hole and repeat the process according to the size of the pot or trough. It is important with this type of bean not to firm the surface of the soil too vigorously. A hard surface will impede germination or prevent it altogether.

Beans for indoor growing can be started in early spring, but they react badly to low soil temperature, so maintain a minimum of 50-54°F (10-12°C). As the seedlings appear, move them to a sunny location and transplant to larger containers, if necessary, when a few true leaves have formed.

Growing on

Keep the soil moist but not wet and provide a humid atmosphere around the growing plants. Plenty of sunshine is beneficial, but protect plants from fierce heat by shielding them with newspaper when the sun is at its height. When the plants are well established in their containers they will put on a growth spurt and soon produce flower buds. At this stage, spray the plants regularly to make sure pollen is dispersed as the flowers open; this will encourage them to set good pods.

The pods begin to form as the flower petals wither; at this stage the plants benefit from feeding with a liquid fertilizer every 10 to 12 days. You can pick the beans as soon as there is a sizeable crop of succulent young pods, and regular cropping will encourage the development of further pods.

30. August 2013 by admin
Categories: Kitchen Gardens, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Best Way to Grow French Beans

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