Tuesday 1 May 2012

Greenhouse, beanhouse or green-bean-house?

I am a great fan of all things bean. I love eating them and I enjoy growing them. This year I have plans for growing about six varieties - Runners, Climbers and Dwarves. Or should that be "Dwarfs"?

No sign of the Runners yet, but the first of my Dwarf French Beans are up and running. I have given them a head start with this little contraption - my bean-house:

It is simply a large plastic cloche placed over a suitable pot, and held in place with a couple of Bulldog clips.
The variety of bean I am growing in this thing is called "Speedy". Let's hope it lives up to its name.

I know this is more than would normally be considered sensible, but I sowed seven bean seeds in that pot. Since the beans grow very quickly the compost should be able to sustain them all right. It only needs to last about three months from sowing to harvest, and I will replace it before sowing a second batch in the middle of Summer. As it happens, only six seeds have germinated so far. Maybe the seventh one is just slow, and will appear later, but experience tells me that I must expect one or two failures.

Later on, when the cloche is no longer required,  I will put in a couple of sticks to support the bean plants, but they won't really need much since when they are that close together they tend to support each other.

This is where the "Cobra" climbing French Beans are - a much bigger container, in which the same type of plastic cloche fits easily. In due course I will be equipping it with some tall bamboo canes, but there's no need for them just yet.

This is nothing to do with beans, but I want to show it to you anyway... While clearing away the old Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants to make room for my Runner Beans I found this little waif - a really pretty Lettuce seedling.

It must be a survivor from the "Misticanza di Lattughe" selection (from Seeds of Italy) of which I grew some last year. It's only very tiny, so I might move it to somewhere sensible and see if I can grow it on to maturity.

Talking about clearing away the PSB reminds me, here's a tip for anyone else doing this task just now: smash up the big stalks with a hammer before adding them to your compost bin. This helps them to decompose more quickly.

Brassica stalks of all types tend to be very solid, and can take AGES to rot down if they are not broken up beforehand.


  1. I've decided against growing runners this year, we all prefer French beans so I'll be growing some climbers and some dwarf. I love that you show things such as beans growing in containers. Before I got my allotment I used to grow many things in pots, beans were just one of them. Many people would think that tall plants are a no no in containers, but they do very well. I even managed sweetcorn, in fact, my sweetcorn did better in containers than they've ever done on the allotment.

  2. We won't be putting beans in just yet. Frost is predicted this week! You could always feed the beans in the pot with a foliar feed. Or some of those slow release granules

  3. Mark, your beans are doing really well from what I see. After the last year fiasco in almost all my crop (due to extremely hot summer, nothing survived 45C heat), I am hesitating this year if I should try again with the beans...

  4. Have you ever grown borlotti beans, we are trying them this year.
    I planted 6 seeds two weeks ago, nothing as yet.
    We are hoping to use them fresh and dried.

    On another note, I ve notice I m using the same blog style page as you
    subconsciously I ve copied you, please take it as a compliment.
    It really was a complete mistake.

    Oh and I m with you on the beans, they have got to be the best
    cropping veg we grow.

  5. Good luck with your beans.

    Genius contraption you have there!!

  6. There is just something about bean seedling that make you think spring. I should have some sprouting this week as well. Mine are bush beans which I take it are the same as your dwarves (dwarfs-I don't know which either).

  7. Oh I'd be way too lazy to do that to my brassica stems. I tend to just toss them in the compost in 3" segments. If they don't break down in the first year they go back into the next year's compost. And I so love beans too, both dried and green. This year I'm growing two different green beans. One is a pole, but one is like yours, a fast bush bean. I figure it will set me up with beans about two weeks before the pole beans start. Then I'll plant them again later in the year and they will give me beans in early fall when my poles are giving out. Well if I can time it right. How often does that happen?

  8. That cloche is a fabulous thing - I could do with one of those for my carrots. I sowed them in buckets this year and didn't think to cover them and they've been "snouted" by an urban creature. Now covered with a bit of wire basket, I hope it's not too late. I'm just about to sow my beans and am growing a dwarf bean (amongst others) for the first time this year. Thought I might be able to grow a crop on my balcony for easy picking!

  9. Hi Mark,

    Loved the name of your post-it made me chuckle!!

    All my beans, broad bean, runner and the various borlotti are all in containers too. The first sown broad beans are just about to flower so finger crossed the weather improves and I can start to bring them out of the greenhouse periodically and harden them off...

    The bulldog clips holding the plastic cloche on is a great idea!!

  10. Love your green bean house! Haven't seen those here, but will be on the look out. Good luck with all your beans!

  11. Ooo I got a new internet provider today and I can actually post comments again!! Bless fast internet :)

    Haha... all things bean. That made me laugh.

  12. Hi Ali, Lost Sheep. Nice to be back in contact! How are you? Will you be re-starting your blog, by any chance??

  13. Clever cloche contraption! And a great tip about the PSB stalks! Beans to go in shortly.

  14. Great tip at the end there mark. I'll be sure to remember that when my brassicas come to an end.

  15. The title of your post sounds like the opening to the Tina Turner song Nut Bush City Limits. My dwarfs are a little further along than yours still in their pots - think I'll have to transplant them soon - it's still too cold for them to be planted out.

  16. Great idea about the brassicas...def going to try that this year.


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