Saturday 22 June 2013

Beans - good news and bad

The news from the Bean department is a mixture of good and bad.

The Runners are looking strong - no problems so far - and the plants are climbing rapidly up their bamboo poles:

In theory, you are supposed to pinch out the main growing tip of the plant at about this stage, in order to encourage the side-shoots to form, but I never do. I wait until the main shoot has reached the top of my support-system and then pinch it out. I always find that plenty of side-shoots grow in any case.

The Climbing French Beans (Cobra) are not looking so good. They are always slower off the mark than the Runners, but this year they are looking a bit weak and weedy all round. The foliage is very pale too. Despite applying the "Grow Your Own" nematodes, a couple of the French beans have succumbed to weevils of some sort.  A healthy bean plant looks like this, with the leaves held erect:

When maggots eat into the roots of a plant, the first sign you see is that the leaves droop. They also lose their gloss, and begin to look dull (and lifeless, which of course they effectively are!)

In the photo above, you can see that I have deployed one of my spares, because the plant on the left looks doomed. This is the point at which the wisdom of sowing some extra seeds in pots or modules becomes apparent. I have also sowed a couple of extra seeds at the base of each cane as a further backup. If the original plants do OK I will just remove the spares.

At the other end of the bed which holds the Cobra beans I planted the only 3 of the "Veitch's" beans that germinated (from a sowing of 7). At this stage they look pretty similar to the Cobra.

One of the three succumbed to the maggots, so I have sown some more seeds "in situ", but there is no sign of them yet. Likewise there was still no sign of the "Meriviglia di Venezia" yellow beans I sowed at the same time (30 May). It could be that the bean crop is a little under par this year - but having said that, if all the seeds I sowed do eventually germinate, we will be inundated!

The first row of the Broad Beans (the Aquadulce ones) have some pods on now, though not as many as I would have expected. Each "truss" only has 2 or 3 beans, whereas I would normally expect 4 or 5. Perhaps their quality will make up for the lack of quantity?

All of the Broad Beans this year (3 types) look less vigorous than normal. The stems are thinner and less able to support themselves than in previous years, so I have had to use a lot of string! Maybe this is a result of the funny weather. Or maybe they just don't like the bed in which they are growing. It is to an extent overshadowed by trees, and the roots of those trees probably take up more than their fair share of the available water - and there hasn't been so much of that this year.

As you can see, I have removed the net which was covering this bed, because I think the danger of serious fox damage has receded. Removing the net will also contribute towards the provision of extra light. I think I'll get the hose-pipe out too and give the beans a good drink.


  1. Everything looks wonderful Mark. I have never heard of Grow your own Nemetodes. Must look for that. As for the broad beans, mine too are not as robust as last year so don't know if it is the change in variety or not. Covered in blossom though, and ants of course with aphids...sigh... Good luck to both of us for a fine harvest.

  2. Good going Mark. The last two pictures would make anyone want to grow beans! Beautiful!

  3. It looks like you will have favas soon. I picked my first this week. I'll be eating them tonight. I always forget how long it takes to shell them.

  4. My own french beans have been slow to take off this year. My soil has come out of the long winter colder than usual.
    I agree about your comments about stopping runner beans at this time. I have never heard such a silly idea!
    Perhaps I just had not noticed your picture in the top margin before. Great shirt!

  5. We never pinch our runners too. I'll have to check our cobras next visit to the plot - you have me worried.

  6. our beans are at similar stages to yours, except I've yet to get pods on my broad beans, sown in feb. I've had maggot problems with a couple crops, mainly the little gem lettuces, a whole row was wiped clean! I put in some transplants the other day. some of my borage plants where taken (of which there are many, so no big deal, as they like to take over). were you saying nematodes were good for maggots in a previous post?

    1. Taylor, Yes, but there are various types of nematode available. I have used the "general purpose" type. I suppose if you applied them for every type of garden pest there is you would need to spend a fortune!

  7. Your beans are far ahead of mine... They look quite good. Nice variety too.

  8. Mine were slow to get going too, just starting to climb now.


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