Friday 26 July 2013

Climbing French Bean "Cobra"

"Cobra" is a variety of bean that I have grown every year for a very long time. It is very reliable. A strong plant that produces a large crop of very big pods which do not go tough even when they are twice the size of a normal French Bean. Here are some photos of it growing in my garden this year:

Those flowers, seen in close-up, are almost like orchids!

I am growing my beans up bamboo canes - the French Beans are on the left. On the right (red flowers) are the Runner Beans:-

In theory it is good practice to pinch out the growing tips of the plants when they reach the tops of the canes, since this will stimulate the production of sideshoots further down the plants. In practice I seldom manage this, simply because the canes are too tall! And also, since the plants always develop at slightly different rates it is sometimes hard to see when one has finally made it to the top. I therefore tend to end up with a thick tangle of foliage at the top ot the wigwam. However, I still usually manage to get a decent crop.

As the flowers wither, little bean-pods are visible:-

They develop very rapidly.

Within a few days they will be big enough to eat:-

Those ones are about 15cm / 6ins long, but if I leave them they will grow to nearly twice that size. When I first grew "Cobra" I thought the very big pods would probably be coarse and possibly stringy, but they aren't. They seem to remain tender even when they are huge, so if you are looking for a big crop (maybe for freezing) this is the bean for you!

The thing to remember with beans is that they really do need lots of moisture - a good long soak every couple of days if the weather is hot. Without this the number of pods produced will be much less. If they are very thirsty the bean plants will just drop their flowers and pods will not form. Nature is good at self-regulating, and plants seem to know how many fruits / pods they will be able to support. (Why don't humans do this too, eh??)


  1. Our Cobra haven't really got going yet - fingers crossed

  2. They look great, I have some dwarf french beans but I might try Cobra next year.

  3. Last year I grew runner beans romano type 'gold marie' - and they were all about 12 cm long!

  4. I tend to grow just Kentucky Wonder beans. They are not the prettiest bean or even the most productive. But they are the one that I like the taste of the best.

  5. Kentucky wonder and Romano here. I like your tip about pinching off the top.


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