Friday, December 16

Can you have too many beans?

The chart below doesn't really fully reflect how our beans fared last season, it only relates to the beans actually picked to eat or freeze. We picked what we needed and could manage to pick before the beans grew too old and spoiled. If time and appetites allowed we could have harvested more.
The broad beans were weighed before podding which I have to admit isn't my favourite job as I always end up with black stained nails.
Robin Hood is a smaller plant producing smaller beans and so comparing the harvest from Witkiem Manita with Robin Hood isn't a fair comparison. Both produced well.

We start the beans in small pots with two seeds to a pot. If both germinate which is more often than not the case, the resulting growth is treated as one plant and transplanted into holes cut through weed control fabric. If the seeds in one pot fail completely or I am short of plants to fill the required space I split the two small plants apart and plant separately.
In the foreground above are Robin Hood. At the top of the photo the Witkiem Manita plants were already in flower.
For some reason the flowers on Robin Hood were very variable. The ones in the above photo look a bit like a hyacinth and others were a brownish colour.
We don't stake the broad bean plants as they tend to support one another, however I created a cane barrier between the two varieties to prevent the later planted, smaller variety from being leaned on by the taller plants.

The pea and bean weevils that devastated some pea seedlings also nibble the broad beans but being stronger growing they don't seem to be too badly affected. The photo below shows the tell-tale notched leaf edges where the weevils have feasted.
The runner and climbing French beans are also sown two seeds to a pot with each pot of growth being planted at the foot of a bamboo cane.
At this stage the young bean plants are at the mercy of slugs. The weevils don't bother them. This year we feared that the slugs would wipe the young plants out and so we sprayed with Grazers slug deterrent. Whether this did the trick or not I can't say as we have no unsprayed plants to compare but the plants, although some nibbling was evident, certainly survived.
The three different varieties of climbing French beans are chosen for bean colour although the purple ones do revert to green after cooking.
The three varieties of runner bean are chosen for flower colour.
The problem - if indeed it can be called a problem - is that since we moved on to climbing rather than dwarf French beans, our combined harvest has increased and although we cut down on the number planted this year, we still had too many plants. It's such a shame that we can't buy bean seeds in smaller quantities as I think we may have to cut down on the number of varieties next year.

Just out of interest, how long has anyone saved (bought) seed and it remained viable, If saving seed from your own plants does it come true to the parent as growing multiple varieties I am concerned that flowers would cross pollinate.


18 comments:

  1. Those bean blossoms are gorgeous, more vibrant than the sweet peas than can be grown here.

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    1. Bean plants would make equally attractive ornamentals, Jane. I guess your climate isn't conducive to growing sweet peas.

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  2. No, there is no such thing as too many beans. Years ago I used to grow loads of runner beans, freeze and enjoy them in the middle of winter. I have been missing them this year and already have a note to make sure I grow some in 2017.

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    1. They do freeze vert well, Jayne so we are rarely without.

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  3. And the answer to that question is...no :)

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  4. Oops...hit that publish button a bit too quickly! In reference to your last question - I have always saved bean and pea seeds after the initial purchase and have yet to have issues with cross pollination. Also, in my experience both bean and pea seeds last at least 2-3 years...probably even longer than that but that's the oldest I've used so far and germination was just fine.

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  5. It's nice to watch your pictures when the weather is cold !
    Happy Sunday !

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  6. What a haul! My experience is that seed more than one year old is not as viable. So my seed saved from last summer will all be used next year. I did try two year old commercial seed (from a reputable source) this year and it was terrible. Since I do not grow as many varieties as you I cannot vouch for species selection, sorry:)

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  7. PS I meant to ask, have you ever grown Broad Beans in the late Autumn to overwinter to avoid the slug problem? I am tempted to try that so that the young shoots will have hardened off before the slugs are out and about. I use Grazers and find it super, but a bit expensive.

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    1. No sweffling we haven't sown seeds to overwinter.

      Do you buy Grazers in ready mixed spray form or to mix? The mix works out cheaper.

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    2. I bought the ready mixed spray the first time but since then have been buying the concentrate and just using the original spray bottle, and indeed that does make a considerable difference. But sometimes I have to spray a second time if the weather is very wet and/or mild, about four weeks after the first spraying, just to give the young plants a chance. But then, I don't kill my slugs as I have some magnificent ones and of the 62 British species(I think)it is only a small priority that are meant to do the damage and some slugs are carnivorous and eat other slugs. I espeically love the Leopard and the Tiger slugs!

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    3. Yes I do the same, the concentrate wasn't available earlier. I used the spray on our hostas and resprayed regularly. It seemed to work well.

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  8. A girl can never have too many beans! I just love all the different blossom, you could grow them for the flowers alone.xxx

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    1. I've always thought that, Dina.

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  9. That's a lot of beans! But beans are my favorite!
    The blooms are so beautiful! They look like ornamental plant too!

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    1. They are a very useful vegetable to have in the freezer too, Malar

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