Tuesday, 11 May 2010

It's Bean Time

I think the weather has now warmed up sufficiently to sow my beans. I'm quite glad that I've held off until now as we've had some very chilly days recently, but if sown now, by the time they're ready to plant out the weather should be fine. I have already sown my dwarf beans, Safari, which I grew last year and were delicious, and Sonesta, which is a new one for me. They're a yellow waxy bean and supposed to be a heavy cropper. I've also got another dwarf bean yet to sow, Cantare, which were included in the seeds I won in the competition on Eight by Six blog. The climbing beans I've gone for this year are Blue Lake, which I grew last year. These kept on producing until very late in the season and had a great taste too. The other climbing bean I've gone for this year is Blauhilde, which is a purple bean. As you can see, all the beans I've chosen this year are French beans. I'm still unsure whether or not to grow some runner beans too. I think I'll wait and see what room I've got left.

Although I had other commitments at the weekend, I had hoped to snatch an hour or two in order to get my maincrop potatoes planted. Unfortunately that didn't happen, so they're still waiting to go in. I should be able to get that done this week, time's running out now.

I'm hoping to spend some time tidying up the garden this week. The grass is desperate for a hair cut, and the rest of the garden has been neglected in favour of the allotment. I find it very hard to get the balance quite right, one suffers because of the other, or a bit is done in both, but neither are done to satisfaction. I must work out how to manage them both better.


  1. As someone who is having difficulty managing time for a few pots, the mind boggles at how people cope with an allotment, let alone a garden as well.

  2. I never grow runners. I much prefer the taste and texture of French beans. You can't have too many!

  3. AnonymousMay 11, 2010

    I find it very difficult to hold off until it’s right time to sow some seeds. I sowed my tomatoes this year way too early.
    This year I’m growing only one variety of French beans, dwarf yellow ones. I sowed them 3 weeks ago directly in the garden. Beans are pretty easy to grow. Good luck with yours.

  4. I agree with Veg Heaven, the French beans rule over the runners. I set the family a taste test a couple of years back and every vote was for the French climbers. This will be my first year without a single runner bean on the plot.

  5. I know what you mean about balancing garden and allotment. My garden has got a bit neglected lately, particularly as we are moving soon, the motivation's not there...

  6. Hi Jo, I started my Blue Lakes off on the kitchen windowsill a week ago - they're just starting to poke through. My Granpa always grew runner beans and I remember my grandmother sitting in the kitchen, destringing and pushing them through one of those little square bean slicers. Seemed to take hours! French beans, on the other hand, I just top and tail.

  7. I sowed my beans straight into the garden about a month ago - probably way too early - but they seem to be doing OK ...

    Your choice of French beans sound really good Jo - definitely preferable over runners.

    It's all such a balancing act isn't it - I can just about cope with my little patch so can sympathise with your dilemma of garden or allotment! Hope you have a productive week.


  8. Well I sowed my french and runner beans at the weekend, for the hens to promptly dig them up! I'll never learn! ;-) x

  9. I have my runners and my french beans...I love runners...they are already in the ground and I planted my french ones in pots last week. I seem to put mine in a lot earlier than everyone else but I have always had a good show so fingers crossed the same goes for this year...good luck with your sowing...as for the balancing act...I've given up and just think about where I want to be and do something their when I have the time!1

  10. AnonymousMay 11, 2010

    I shall probably start sowing my beans later in the week.
    As everything is up to a month late this year I wouldn't worry too much that you've not yet planted your maincrop potatoes. They'll be fine providing you get them in the ground in the next week or so.
    It's not surprising that you find that you have that problem with the garden and plot as it is the busiest time of the year for us gardeners. There simply is never enough time however organised you are, and I certainly wouldn't worry too much about the grass needing a haircut! Flighty xx

  11. Seems about the right time Jo, I have them at various stages from about two foot long to just poking through taking over my greenhouse. Very cold here tonight, I am trying to resurrect my cucumbers that have gone over in the cold!

  12. I think you made a wise decision holding back on the beans. I planted mine out a couple of weeks ago but they have been battered by the wind and now the cold is taking its toll. I've had them wrapped in fleece for a week or so but they are looking very sad. I have sown a few back-up beans in the propagator tonight.

  13. Hi, Jo. This year, for the first time, I am going to make a runner-bean tepee for the grandchildren. Can't wait. I sow my bean seeds right into the ground after the last frost (about 2-3 weeks time).
    I can not imagine how you manage a garden and an allotment! Pam x

  14. Thats an awful lot of beans. Do you blanch and freeze them?

  15. Allotments and gardens do take up a large amount of time, Tanya, but it's worth it in the end when you're eating your own grown food. The taste is far superior to anything you could buy in a supermarket.

    I enjoy both French beans and runner beans, Vegetable Heaven, but my favourites are French beans. I will grow some runner beans only if I have room.

    I think we all get impatient at times, Vrtlarica. Early sowings can pay off sometimes though, so it's good to have a go.

    I also prefer French beans, Mark N. Runner beans are traditional on allotments though, so I'll grow a few if I've got room.

    I wouldn't be motivated to do my garden either if I were moving, Rachael. I bet you're motivated once you've moved house though, a brand new garden to set your own stamp on.

    I grew Blue Lake's last year too, Caro. I was impressed with them so I'm growing them again this year. The runner beans I grew last year were stringless, so that was one less job.

    I'm sure your beans will be fine, Jeanne, though some parts of the UK have a frost forcast so keep an eye on the weather. You should get a nice early harvest from them.

    You'll have to sow your beans into pots, Claire. That will stop the pesky hens getting them.

    It's good to have a go with some early sowings, Tanya. That way you should get an early harvest. Just be careful with the frosts that are about at the moment. I think your way of balancing the allotment and garden is spot on.

    It sounds like we'll be sowing our beans together, Flighty. It is a busy time of year, so there's always something to do. As for the grass, I'll leave that for my hubby to deal with.

    I've got the dwarf French beans in the greenhouse still, Damo. I'm going to risk getting them out soon though, the greenhouse is still full to bursting and I need the room.

    I think you're wise to be sowing back up beans, Phil. We can't count on the weather yet, there's more frosts forcast too.

    Are you going to leave a doorway in the tepee, Pam? Your grandchildren will love the play value it offers, and you'll get a delicious vegetable to harvest.

    It is a lot of beans, Claire. Last year I grew enough to eat fresh and had none left over for the winter. This year I'm hoping to get plenty so that I can freeze some.

  16. Sowed my first French beans just before leaving for Malvern. No contest between them and runners as far as I am concerned - winner in both taste and texture contest by a long chalk. Interested in you comments on Blue Lake Jo - debated between them and Cobra which I grew last year and have gone for again. Might try a latter crop though. When you have solved the allotment/garden balance please let me know :)

  17. Hi Jo, I grew Blauhilde last year and am doing so again this year, I thought they were great, a really lovely flavour and better than the dwary french beans and the runners.Good luck with them. I am also finding the pull between allotment and garden difficult to manage...and now I have blogging to fit in as well! At the moment I need more greenhouse space because it's too cold to put alot of the plants out yet but I need more room to sow new things.

  18. No runner beans? Sacre Blue Lake. I've grown some of each most years and found the Dwarf French beans couldn't cope with outdoor sowing (or else were eaten) and didn't come to much or else got swamped by weeds. I have also been unclear about whether some varieties needed support or not and then regretted not supporting them when they were trashed by the wind. You know where you are with Runners!

  19. My garden is also suffering, but since the majority of my food crops will be grown at the garden, I'll pay for my short commings this year I think.

    I spwed my beans during that very warm april but something has eaten the seeds so will be resowing this week.

    Hope you get your spuds in soon.

  20. Juggling time is always tricky. For me keeping on top of the veg growing always feels like a frantic race against time. I started my beans off in the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago - I can't remember what variety they are.

  21. The Blue Lakes did really well last year, Anna. They seemed to keep going for a long time and were still producing when other people's had finished. I'm hoping for similar results again this year.

    It's good to know that you rate Blauhilde, Ninasgardeningnotebook. I haven't grown them before, but chose them for their colour really, though I know they turn green when cooked. I'm running out of space in my greenhouse too, though I'm going to evict some of the seedlings soon.

    I sow my dwarf French beans in pots, Mal. When I plant them out I put a stake at each end of the row and wrap some twine along the rows. It just keeps the beans in check and prevents wind damage. I agree, you know where you are with runners, and they're traditional on allotments, but I do prefer the taste of French beans.

    I'm sure you'll soon catch up, Kella. It's been a funny year this year with the very cold start we had, which seems to be continuing. Hope you managed to get your beans resown.

    I find it really hard juggling my time, Mark, something always seems to suffer. It's just as well your beans are in the greenhouse after the frost we've had recently.


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