(Genus: Phaseolus vulgaris - Family: Fabacea)
French Beans and their origins
Originating in Peru and many regions of the Andes, Green beans and French Beans were key crops of the Native Americans. The plants are also native to other warm regions across the globe. There are a multitude of species available split into two categories; dwarf varieties like Borlotto and Cannellini, or climbing varieties such as Vigevano and Lima.
The fruit is an elongated pod that contains seeds; these seeds are what are commonly referred to as beans. Some varieties have a hard pod that opens easily in order to shell the beans. Other beans such as French Beans or Sword Beans are completely edible and both the pod and the beans will be consumed.
How to Plant: French Beans
Green Beans or French Beans thrive in a warm, temperate climate. The plants are easily blighted by frost and struggle to grow in climates that experience excessive rainfall.
Beans can be planted directly outdoors in early spring for warmer southerly climates and from May to early June for more northerly, cooler regions. They should be planted in rows. For dwarf varieties, space the rows at least 60cm apart with a distance of 6-7cm between each seedling. Climbing varieties need additional space to grow; space the rows at least 1m apart with a gap of 20cm between each seedling. Plant green bean seeds at a depth of 3-5cm.
The soil should be rich, deep and a medium-texture, ensure that it is well drained and offers a slightly acidic PH. Fertilise pre-sowing with xxg/m² of Xxxxx xxxxxx and then, as soon as the seedlings start to flourish and have 3-4 leaves, apply another dose of fertiliser, this time applying a slightly lower dosage of 20g/m².
Irrigation is essential in order for Green Beans to thrive, particularly in the early stages of the crop cycle. Watering is also important from the moment when pods begin to form. Irrigate regularly but check the soil to ensure that it does not become water-logged which can rot the fledgling seeds.
Once the climbing varieties reach a certain height, they will need support to continue to grow, this can be in the form of spikes or other networks of support such as wiring
When to harvest Beans
Green Beans and French Beans should be harvested when they are dry to keep them fresh. They do not need to reach a certain length but instead observe the texture and shape of the pod. They should be soft and crisp. Look out for any bulges as this suggests the seeds have become over-ripe and will have a fiberours texture when consumed.
French beans and green beans of all types are ideal for freezing. If eating fresh, they should be harvested on the day.
Diseases and pests affecting the growth of Beans
- Black cutworm and terricolous leaf
- Green bug
- Red spider mite
- Grey mould
- Downy mildew
- Powdery mildew
Did you know?
Once harvested, Green Beans and French Beans should be cut back and allowed to rot in the soil, the roots contain micro-organisms that fix nitrogen in the soil, taking it from the atmosphere. This is ideal to increase the nitrogen levels in the soil, which prompts the lush leafy growth of future crops. Plant future French or Green Bean crops on this site or even other vegetables such as cabbage.