Care and cultivation of Green Beans
will produce heavier crops when regularly hoed and watered. Watering is particularly important in dry weather, when the crop’s growth is liable to be checked, and the flowers may not set. If the flowers wilt and droop, the insects cannot penetrate and pollination will not take place. When this happens, spray the plants with a fine misty spray every morning and evening until the flowers have set. This fine mist will not be sufficient to keep the moist; a thorough watering, directed at the plants’ roots, will also be necessary in dry weather.
Regular hoeing not only keepsunder control, it also keeps the surface of the soil broken up. In prolonged dry spells, some soils, particularly if watered by hose, form a hard surface crust. This prevents water penetrating the soil, and it runs off the surface without reaching the plants’ roots. Hoeing also creates a dust mulch, which helps conserve soil moisture. A mulch of clean straw or leaf litter has the same effect, provided the soil is thoroughly watered before the mulch is applied.
Small doses of liquid manure are beneficial. To make, soak a bag of manure in a tank of water until the liquid is the colour of weak tea. Take care when applying not to splash the foliage, because liquid manure of this kind is more concentrated than the liquid feeds sold especially for foliar feeding, and can burn the leaves.
Strictly speaking, the dwarf varieties do not heed support. However, they tend to get weighed down by the pods, which then rest on the ground and become vulnerable to slug attacks. In wet weather, they will get covered with mud, too. As a precaution, support the plants by tying them to short lengths of bamboo, or else grow them through pea sticks. Occasionally, dwarf varieties will send out runners in an attempt to climb; cut these off as soon as you see them.
The climbing varieties need the support of tall rods or canes around which they will twine in the same way as runner. Erect one rod or cane per plant; these should be about 1.8 m (6’) high after they have been pushed well into the ground. The framework will consist of a line of pairs of canes, straddling the axis of the row, not less than 45 cm (18”) apart at ground level. Alternatively, use twiggy branches for support, or large mesh netting. Earthing-up around the base of the plant, up to the first set of leaves, gives additional support to the stem, as well as encouraging extra root growth.
If you made late sowings, and plan to harvest right through autumn, give the plants cloche protection from mid-autumn onwards. Alternatively, a thick mulch of clean, dry straw, applied when frost threatens, will help protect the plants.