Sunday 5 October 2014

Distorted Beans

I have been growing the variety of Runner Bean called "Scarlet Empire" for several years now, and it has always been pretty good, and sometimes amazingly prolific. This is a photo taken this time last year:

See: long straight, even pods. Now look at these:

Horrible, aren't they? Now, not all my beans have been like that - far from it - and every year you always get one or two funnies, but this year the ratio has been very different. I won't bore you again with the details of the compost contamination that afflicted my garden this year, but I feel certain that what we are looking at here is caused by the same issue.

Instead of just one or two weird ones, I have had a lot like this. Many of them are short, fat and contorted into strange shapes, and they have flesh that is dense and tough and nothing like the normal tender flesh of a young Runner.

Ones like this are of no use in the kitchen, and they just have to go in the compost bin. I have still kept picking them though, because if you leave bean pods to mature their parent plant stops producing new pods. However, I certainly won't be saving any seeds from this year's crop!

Looking on the bright side though, two things occur to me: first, we haven't had to cope with a glut of beans. Second, there's always next year! A gardener HAS to be optimistic, and the odd setback is to be expected, but things may be completely different next time round. I hope so.

Today I took down my Runner Bean plants and their supporting poles, a job I like to do before the Autumn gales come along.




The cycle will begin again next year...


  1. Maybe you find this PDF book useful.

  2. I think you do have to be an optimist to succeed at gardening. Every year something goes wrong. Well usually more than one. If you let it get to you, you wouldn't be gardening very long. But there are always successes too, so you have to enjoy those and change whatever went wrong the year before. This year my spring lettuce was great, but my fall lettuce is pitiful and it really isn't worth harvesting. Nothing like you had to go through this year, but I'll be doing something different next year. You can be sure.

  3. Did the bean leaves show signs of contamination as I would expect them to be leathery spoon shaped and gave prominent veining> There are photos on my website.

    Weather conditions and irregular growth can also cause strange shaprd beans to form

    1. Leaves were quite badly affected early in the season, but new leaves recently formed looked fine. Actually there was a lot more new foliage than you would expect to see in October.

  4. I always think it's a sad time of year when the bean poles come down to store away over winter. I'm still picking beans at the moment though so mine are still standing proud.

  5. We also had distorted beans, and potato leaves, tomato leaves, among other things. I suspect herbicide. So nothing goes into the compost pile, because it will just contaminate everything next year.

    1. Everything I have read about herbicides suggests that by next year they will have decomposed anyway (thankfully), but I never know who to trust on things like this!

    2. It does depend on the contamination and how it has been introduced, Aminopyralid introduced by spreading manure can persist for quite a few years in the soil.


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