Exhibition tips for Growing Green Beans
There is no special cultivation required for growing exhibition; if you follow normal cultivation procedures and your plants are growing well, you should have plenty of pods up to show standard. One useful hint: French beans, when quickly grown, sometimes look a bit pale. To prevent this, give a light dressing of nitro-chalk, at the rate of 60 g per sq m (2 oz per sq yd), when the young plants start forming true leaves.
Mid-spring sowings outdoors should give ripe beans for early to mid-summer shows, provided the weather has been reasonable. If you live in a particularly cold district, it is safer to sow in peat pots in a cold frame in mid-spring, and plant out at the beginning of early summer. For late summer or autumn shows, cover possible crop failures by sowing small successional batches, say, at fortnightly intervals, until mid-summer.
The judges will look for straight, fresh, tender pods without any bumpi-ness; keep this in mind when selecting the beans. Twenty four beans are usually required, but it is safer to pick about twice this number, so you will have plenty of reserves at the show bench. Never pull the pods off the plant; cut them with scissors. Completely ignore enormous pods, which are likely to be tough and fibrous; they will not gain you any points.
To keep your beans from looking tired and stale, pick them at the last possible moment before the show. Make sure your hands are clean, because it is difficult to wash off stains on the pods without destroying the bloom.
As soon as the pods have been collected, lay them out on damp, clean cloths, and then roll the cloths up into loose bundles. They can travel to the show like this, provided they will not remain in the bundles for more than two days. If there is a longer interval between picking and the show date, it is best to pack the beans dry. A couple of hours before staging the pods, immerse them in cold water to restore their crispness.
Beans look nicest when displayed in a circular pattern on a plate. The tails of the pods should face outwards, towards the edge of the dish.