Growing beans is quite easy and rewards are fantastic. Being part of a vegetarian diet, beans are getting more popular year after year. You can grow runners, borlotto beans or french beans very easily even in smaller gardens, or the dwarf ones in pots on your patio or balcony. These beans need very similar conditions, while growing broad beans is completely a different matter.
For an earliest crop sow your french/runner bean seeds indoors at a minimum temperature of 15 Celsius, about three weeks before the last expected frost in your area. An ordinary all purpose compost is suitable for the beans, cover the seeds with as much compost as the the longest side of the seed. With other words sow the seeds as deep as big the seed is, this rule can be applied to any seeds in general.
If you are growing lots of runner beans and do not have the space for sowing them indoors, sow the seeds outside when the temperature reaches around 15 Celsius during the day. If the seeds sown too early outside they can start rotting in the cold, wet soil. Normally late May – June is the best time to sow outside, 15-20 cm apart. Germination takes 7-14 days, depends on variety and temperature of course.
Runner beans and climbing french beans and borlotto beans need support. The usual choice is a wigwam especially in a smaller garden or allotment plot. Plant out the the bean plants when there is no frost expected in your area, one plant to each supporting cane. They will grow up on the poles nicely. Growing runner beans is quite a space saving exercise as the beans grow upwards and from a relatively small space you can get a big harvest.
If you grow a larger amount of climbing french or runner beans then a twin row of canes are the perfect solution, as on the picture above. The climbing varieties are much more productive than the dwarf ones. Prepare your soil before planting out, dig a deep trench and put in some fresh grass cuttings, shredded newspaper or woodchipping, then cover these and plant the beans on the top. This will provide some warmth as the material breaks down and will feed the plants as well.
Dwarf beans can be grown in larger pots, containers in your patio, or in rows about 15 cm apart. Sow the dwarf french bean seeds late April – May indoors, or June – early August direct outside.