Growing dwarf French beans

by Pippa Greenwood

I adore these juicy, tender beans and would much rather tuck in to a home-grown crop than imported varieties, shipped all the way from Egypt or Kenya.

Gardener examining dwarf bean plantA few months back I mentioned that I was sowing some dwarf French beans, for an early crop in spring. I adore these juicy, tender beans and would much rather tuck in to a home-grown crop than imported varieties, shipped all the way from Egypt or Kenya.

I sowed the delicious variety ‘Purple Tee-Pee’ 15cm apart in large, 60cm pots, filled with recycled compost from earlier sowings and the dregs of various bags that were lying around. The pot was situated on the path of my greenhouse, and the compost kept moist. Our resident mouse massacred a couple of the seedlings and the aphids inevitably moved in to attack, so I blitzed them with soft soap solution. The plants looked rather miserable for a while, their leaves still curling from the toxin injected by the feeding aphids.

It seemed that my efforts at an early sowing of beans were doomed, but eventually the plants sprang into life. They were admittedly rather lax, after their ‘soft life’ in the greenhouse, but that didn’t adversely affect the quality of the beans. I’m happy to report that we recently enjoyed our first batch, and the flavour was wonderful. We’ll be having more for supper tonight.  The yield isn’t huge, but enough for us to enjoy.

Also, it seems that all the running in and out with bell cloches for my courgette plants has paid off. Planted before my recent trip to the Canaries and Madeira, the plants are now covered with flowers, and this morning I spotted the first tiny courgettes forming. I can’t wait for the harvest.

I’ll plant out three more courgette plants this weekend, along with a whole host of other veg plants. And in just a few months time I’ll be using the bell cloches and horticultural fleece to extend the cropping period at the end of the growing season!

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Gardeners' World Web User 18/05/2011 at 13:46

And the more you pick the more you'll harvest, Pippa. I too love those beans and find myself having them twice a day to keep up with the crop. They are such great value and well worth the effort.

Gardeners' World Web User 18/05/2011 at 15:33

my courgettes aint coming along at all ever since i planted them out theyve been subjected to a hot spell and in my stupidity mid-day watering (ive learned not to do this now) also now being drowned by constant rain and looking very sad found some seeds that had started to sprout after planted out that had been attacked by little tiny white maggots? p.s do you make your own soap spray i have some aphids on roses protected by ants used some diluted dove handwash seems to work a bit but if theres a better formula?

Gardeners' World Web User 18/05/2011 at 19:48

my french beans are in flower, so is my marrows, and courgettes , and all my seeds are coming up, i water first thing in the morning as we have had no rain for at least 2 months ,

Gardeners' World Web User 19/05/2011 at 09:26

Ive planted out a tender crop of French Beans this week. I just love them, and yes the more you pick there more you harvest. Everything at the moment is growing so well, my Runner Beans are shooting up. I have made my own soap spray with Fairy Liquid and it seems to work quite well, but I do find that the Blue Tits that come into my garden do a grand job so I repay them with extra food to keep them happy.

Gardeners' World Web User 19/05/2011 at 16:29

Squirrels are digging up my newly potted plants - any ideas?

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