Easy Methods For Growing Beans

Broad Bean

This is the only hardy garden bean. It is still common to place broad bean varieties into two groups— Windsors and Longpods. But newer varieties often have mixed ancestry. A true Windsor has short pods containing about four large seeds. A Longpod has longer pods with more but smaller seeds. Most broad beans are tall growers. There is one true dwarf— ‘The Sutton’.

When to Sow

November: give cloche protection in colder areas, elsewhere protect rows with small mesh chicken wire or with small mesh nylon netting to prevent birds from pecking seedlings.

February: sow a single seed in each 31-in. Pot in a warm greenhouse. Peat pots are excellent for this sowing. Set plants outdoors in April—preferably with cloche protection.

March – earl April: outdoors where plants at to grow.

Some Popular Broad Beans Growing Broad Beans

  • Aquadulce (syn. Giant Seville)
  • Aquadulce Claudia
  • Conqueror (syns. Exhibition Longpod, Colosal) – Giant Windsor (syn. Giant Four Seeded White Windsor)
  • Imperial Green Longpod – Imperial Green Windsor;
  • Imperial White Longpod – Imperial White Windsor
  • Masterpiece Green Longpod – Red Epicure
  • The Sutton (syn. The Midget)

How to Sow Broad Beans

Use a draw hoe to make an 8-in. Wide, 1 ½-2 in. deep furrow. Sow seeds in a double staggered way at 9 in. apart. Sow a few seeds quite close together at the end of the row; the seedlings may come in handy should any seeds in the row fail to germinate. The dwarf ‘The Sutton’ needs less space and seeds may be sown 6 in. apart. leave 2 ½ – 3 ft. between rows of tall varieties and 18 in. between rows of ‘The Sutton’.

Pot-raised plants should be set at these distances at planting out time.


Keep the plants free from weeds by hoeing. Water often and generously in warm, dry weather. Bean plants, particularly broad beans, are prone to an attack of black bean aphis. This pest favours bean plants which are short of moisture.

As well as watering when necessary, thwart black bean aphis by:

(1) Sowing in late autumn or in February; early sowings usually miss an aphis attack.

(2) Pinching out the growing point as soon as flowers have set and small pods are forming.

(3) Cutting off all tender young shoots around the base of plant.

(4) Spraying with soapy water, derris or pyrethrum in May before aphids appear. Continue spraying weekly. Spray in the late evening so that bees are not harmed. Do not spray at all if you see ladybird larvae devouring the aphids.

(5) Destroying any weeds which harbour the aphis. Docks and fat hen are often infested with it.

  • In very exposed areas it helps to give tall growers supports of some kind so that plants are not blown down when cropping.
  • Harvest broad beans when the pods are well filled but before the seeds inside them are leathery and tough.

French Beans French Beans

There are two forms—dwarf bush and climbing. The bush form is the most popular. Although the pods of most varieties are green some bear yellow or mauve pods.

When to Sow

  • At any time between late April and early June.
  • It is advisable to pre-warm the soil with cloches if sowing in April.
  • Just leave cloches in position over the soil for a week or so. Then sow and cover with cloches. Keep cloches in position for as long as possible.
  • Seeds may also be sown in small pots in a warm greenhouse during April. The plants must not be set out in the open garden until all risk of a late spring frost has passed.

Some Popular French Beans

  • DWARF BUSH: Canadian Wonder; Canadian Marvel; Cherokee Wax; Glamis; Masterpiece; Mont D’Or Golden Butter; Pencil Pod Black Wax; Phoenix Claudia; Royalty; Sprite; The Prince.
  • CLIMBING: Blue Lake White Seeded; Blue Queen; Bunyard’s Blue Coco; Veitch’s Climbing (syns. Tender and True, Guernsey Runner).

How to Sow

  • Sow dwarf bush kinds as if they were broad beans. Sow climbing kinds in a single row allowing 6 in. between seeds in the row.
  • Set out pot-raised plants at these distances. Leave 3 ft. between rows of dwarf beans; 5 ft. between rows of climbers.


Keep down weeds and water often and well in dry weather from late May onwards. Healthy plants are seldom attacked by black bean aphis. Spray with soapy water, derris or pyrethrum should this pest appear on the undersides of the leaves. If dwarf plants topple under the weight of crop push brushwood alongside the plants to support them. Alternatively, provide strings tied to short bamboo canes. Climbing French beans attain a height of about 4 ft. Tall brushwood was the traditional form of supports. Plastic garden mesh or wire mesh or plastic mesh fencing are modern supports.

Harvest French beans before the pods toughen. Many older varieties have pods which tend to be stringy when they age. Newer varieties such as `Glamis’ are stringless. Pick pods often and when of full size. Cropping continues over a period of about six weeks.

Runner Beans

Most runner beans bear scarlet flowers; a few have white flowers and the seeds are white. The flowers of ‘Painted Lady’ are red and white.

When to Sow

Sow between early May and mid June in the open garden. A sowing in April may be made under cloches. Seeds may also be sown in pots in a warm greenhouse during April. The tender plants must not be set out in the open garden until all danger of frost has passed.

Some Popular Runner Beans

  • Achievement (syn. Yardstick)
  • Black Magic
  • Crusader; Czar; Enonna – Hammond’s Dwarf Scarlet
  • Hammond’s Dwarf White – Kelvedon Marvel (syn. Kelvedon Wonder)
  • Painted Lady
  • Prizetaker (syns. As Long as Your Arm, Goliath, Colossal)
  • Prizewinner
  • Sarlet Emperor; Streamline
  • White Emergo (syns. White Wonder, White Monarch)

How to Sow

  • The two dwarf ‘runner’ beans – Hammond’s Dwarf Scarlet’ and ‘Hammond’s Dwarf White’-are sown and cultivated as dwarf French beans.
  • Other varieties may be grown in two different ways. The best method is to provide the plants with tall supports. These may be traditional bean poles or bean netting. Plastic or wire fencing is also very suitable. In very windy gardens runner beans may be grown as dwarfed plants.
  • Where plants are to have supports sow seeds at from 6-8 in. alongside them in a A-a in. narrow furrow made with a draw hoe. If plants are to be dwarfed sow as for broad beans. Leave from 4-5 ft. between rows of runner beans. Pot-raised plants should be set out at these distances.


Hoe to prevent weeds and water well and often in dry weather. Spray with soapy water, derris or pyrethrum should black bean aphis show on the stems or on the undersides of the leaves. Permit plants on supports to reach the top of them. Then pinch out the growing point at the top of each plant.

Plants to be grown dwarfed are pinched back by a few inches when the plants are 1 ft. or so high. Lots of side growths are then made. Nip these back occasionally until the row of bean plants resembles a low, bushy hedge. If dwarfed plants topple, support them with brushwood or with strings tied to bamboo canes.

Soil which is enriched with manure or garden compost periodically is suitable. Where the soil is not highly fertile plants may be fed with very weak liquid manure water. Alternatively, side dress the rows with organic fertilizers.

Harvest pods often and when they are young and tender. Never allow seeds inside the pods to plump up. Cropping should continue for two months.

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