Growing Climbing French Beans
Growing French beans? Then you have to decide to either grow dwarf French beans or the climbing French beans. I personally grow both.
French Beans are also known as flageolets or haricot beans – but these names refer to the French bean when they have been left to mature and dry on the plant.
Growing Climbing French Beans – Site and Soil
French beans are pretty easy to grow in your vegetable plot. French beans prefer a sheltered growing position and to be in full sun. It’s important to protect them from the wind – which is particular important when growing climbing French beans because they can easily blow over.
French beans prefer a soil rich in organic material, but they will grow in most types of soil. Dig the soil well and fork in lots of well-rotted manure or compost to enrich the soil. It takes between 8 and 12 weeks from start to picking
Growing Climbing French Beans - When to Sow
French Beans are easily killed by frosts. You can sow directly into the ground from early to Mid May onwards. You can sow the seeds every couple of weeks until the beginning of July.
You can also sow the seeds in individual pots indoors and then plant them out. The main benefit is that you are able to sow early (from the beginning of April) and plant them out after hardening off the plants.
Many vegetable gardeners sow French beans direct into the soil. To direct sow climbing French beans the soil needs to be at least 16°C for the seeds to germinate. You can direct sow French beans from early to mid May – you can sow earlier you will need to give the plants some kind of protection from any cold or frosty weather – place a cloche or fleece over the seedlings.
The biggest benefit of starting the French bean seed indoors is that the plants are well established and already advanced before planting them out, which means you can get your crop of French beans earlier.
To sow indoors fill an individual seed tray with compost, firm it down and water. Take a dipper and make a small hole into the wet compost – place 1 or 2 seeds into the compost and cover. Keep in a cold-frame, greenhouse or on your windowsill. They will germinate within 7 to 10 days. Sow in Early to late April to plant out for May. When the plants are about 2 to 3” tall you can start hardening off the plants.
Planting out the Climbing French Beans
Put a wigwam up made out of four or five bamboo canes tied together at the top – for the climbing French beans to climb up against. The French bean growth at the top will be crowded, but this kind of structure always produces a good crop of beans.
Usually each bamboo is about 6” apart. Then plant 1 or 2 plants against each bamboo. Using a small hand trowel, dig a small hole and place a French bean plant into the hole and fill and firm the soil around the plant.
French Bean Care
French beans are a fairly easy vegetable crop to grow. Keep the weeds down and water them regularly when the weather is dry. You can mulch between the plants to help retain moisture in the soil.
Feed the French Beans with either some chicken pellets or water them with a bio feed every couple of weeks to encourage cropping.
French Bean Care – Harvest
Pick the French beans when they are young and tender, if you allow them to grow to big they will become tough and stringy beans.
To get the most from your crop of climbing French beans it’s best to pick the beans frequently to encourage new beans to grow.
French Beans Pest & Disease
Halo Blight – are brownish spots on the leaves that are surrounded by a lightish colour described by people as a ‘halo’. Plants are stunted and yields are affected by this.
Treatment – It’s best to lift and destroy the plants.
Slugs – unfortunately slugs like every part of the French Beans. Dwarf French bean pods are often affected by slugs as the pods hang on to the soil so they are an easy target.
Treatment – you can go out at dusk and pick up the slugs or use a beer trap or slug pellets.
Blackfly – like broad beans French beans can also be affected by blackfly which will stunt the plants growth.
Treatment – you can plant marigolds as these encourage beneficial insects like ladybirds and hoverflies – and these insects eat blackfly. Or you can spray your plants with soapy water or buy a spray from you local garden centre that kills blackfly.
Click here to read top 12 french bean varieties.
Growing climbing french beans is well worth growing on your vegetable plot.