Saturday, February 13

Bags of beans

We grew three types of bean last year, broad beans, runner beans and climbing French beans. All provided us with more than enough to meet our needs.
We grew two type of broad bean Witkiem Manita and Robin Hood. Robin Hood is a smaller growing plant that produces smaller pods which accounts for the difference in yields.

In the photo on the top right you may be able to spot that the plants growing at the back are taller and the photo on the bottom left shows how the bean pods differ in size.

The photo on the top left shows the flower which always reminds me of a bumble bee. Have you noticed what a beautiful perfume the flowers have? You will also notice that the leaves are crimped by weevils.

We always start all our beans in pots or modules in the cold greenhouse. Two seeds are planted in each pot and if they both germinated the two plants are planted out as if they are just one. Transplanting rather than sowing direct gives the plants a better chance of surviving weevil or slug attack.
 You will notice that all our beans are planted through weed control fabric.
Last year we abandoned the dwarf French beans in favour of the climbing varieties and now their is no going back.


The runner and climbing French beans were all grown on one bed with each variety allocated ten canes up which to grow. When first planted out we feared that we would have a crop failure as the slugs homed in on the new plants and shredded the leaves. Fortunately most of the growing tips survived and grew away and in the end produced more beans that we needed, both to eat fresh and freeze, so this year we may cut down on the number of plants.

To be honest we grow several varieties as much for the variety of flowers as much as for the beans.
The yellow climbing French beans were slower to grow and the plants weren't ever as lush as the others but we still managed a reasonable harvest.
We will be growing a runner bean called Celebration this year in place of Desiree but more for a change than any other reason. Other than that we will be growing the same varieties as last year. 





27 comments:

  1. I'm glad Cobra came out well for you, it's so reliable here. I grow Lady Di too. Like you, I sow in modules and then plant out. If I don't the mice have every seed. As soon as they've germinated and put on some leaf growth the mice leave them alone, I assume because the food source in the seed has all been used up.

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    1. Never noticed a mice problem on the plot. Jessica. Maybe they are drawn to the chicken food or maybe the other pests get in first or maybe we just haven't noticed and blamed something else. Now in the garage and greenhouse it's a different story

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  2. Beautiful photos, Sue. I love the different colorings on the bean blossums.
    It's always so nice to come here and see your gorgeous photos. Though I am a fan of winter, come mid-February I'm starting to feel the call of the garden. Love the seedlings in the pots--such vibrant growth and the promise of things to come.

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    1. Winter is a nice break, Sue when we recharge batteries and are then ready to go come spring.

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  3. Cobra has long been a favourite of mine too. The Robin Hood BBs sound ideal for my small plot - nice and compact.

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    1. It was your posts that tempted us to try Cobra, Mark

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  4. Love the last photo with all of the different beans in the box. Climbers are wonderful, aren't they - both for how beautiful they are and how abundantly they crop. I use the inverted V type trellis as well for climbers - it does such a great job of supporting them. I could technically fit two of them in a raised bed, but the problem is that one would end up shading the other, which is why I always grow bush beans as well - they make the most of our limited bed space (i.e. tall crops on the north side & short on the south so that all receive a good amount of sun).

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    1. It's always a case of adapting to suit your situation isn't it, Margaret?

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  5. I always autumn plant my broad beans as I find this way they get less critter damage. Not only do broad bean flowers have a beautiful aroma but they make wonderful honey. So clear and pale with such a floral flavour!!

    I am hoping to get french bean in this year. I totally see the the benefits of growing the climbers...easy to pick and if you get some bad weather they stay so much cleaner!!

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    1. Also the climbers seem to produced more beans per plant and take up less space, Tanya and the beans not only stay cleaner but most are less if a temptation to slugs and there is less backache picking them.

      I often wonder whether the design of the bean flower is a adaptation to attract bees.

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    2. I heard on radio 4 that runner beans originate in S. America & the flowers are shaped & coloured to attract Hummingbirds which are their main pollinators. Unfortunately, unlike Hummingbirds, bees can't see red so in the UK white flowered beans are better to attract bees (I always appear to see more bees in my white flowered climbing french beans than in the red runners, so have now switched to white runners.) Also, some types of bees can't reach far enough into bean flowers, so they bore a hole into the bottom of the flower (where it joins the stalk) to reach the nectar, then the damaged, unpollinated flower falls off.

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  6. I haven't planted anything yet, but have my weed suppressing membrane ready to rock and roll as soon as I can get out there. First I need to get my shoulder well again!

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    1. I hope that your shoulder is better soon, Deborah. Whatever did we do before we bought weed control fabric? - answer - too much time spent weeding.

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  7. I think I shall try Cobra & Robin Hood this year. As for runners no idea I shall see what I have left possibly St George or Celebration as I know I have grown both before. Useful table x

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    1. Glad to hear that you have grown Celebration, Jo as it is first time for us,

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  8. I have taken note of which Runner Beans you grow. I wish we had an allotment to grow more. Your charts are very useful. Thank you for providing them. Marion x

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    1. The bean flowers would fit in an ornamental garden well, Marion.

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  9. We start all our beans in root trainers they come complete with a clear plastic cover which provides protection from mice until germination. Weed suppressing fabric is wonderful.

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  10. It was a good move when we started to use WCF Brian - it means we are not as toed to the allotment as we once started to feel.

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  11. Last year was not a good bean year for me. I think it was a bit cool for them.
    This year I want to try Asparagus beans (it is an Asian bean, 70cm long, pencil size). Have you ever grown them?

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    1. No we haven't grown them, Alain. I'll be watching how you get nm with interest.

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  12. I need to check that I have enough 'Cobra' seeds for this year, it is a wonderful bean. I like to grow different varieties for the different flowers - and pods - too, it makes a huge difference in a small space like mine.

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    1. The climbing French are also much better for limited spaces aren't they, Janet? More beans per square foot. :-)

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  13. So various beans that you grow! I'm really interested to the purple variety. I have ever grown the dwarf purple variety, but they did not grow well.

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    1. Pity about the purple ones Endah - will you try again?

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  14. I had good harvest of beans last year,Sue and some of them I stored for seed. So I will plant my own beans and I'd like to grow some dark blue ones as you have. What is this variety?

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    1. They are Coose Violette, Nadezda but they lose the colour when cooked and are then green.

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