How to grow French Beans at home.
Growing French beans from seed is quite simple once a few rules have been established. The crop produced is usually quite substantial and very tasty.
These bean plants can be grown in the traditional greenhouse, window boxes, or even in the kitchen and the bedroom if required.
The plant itself grows up to about two feet tall, and will need some support as it grows. The usual support is a simple stick which the plant is then loosely tied to approximately every six inches or so.
Remember: If the pot you are intending to plant the French beans in is shallow, the crop will be smaller. The root system requires as much space as possible for healthy growth prospects. So if the plant pot is about two feet deep, the harvest should be good.
If planting in the greenhouse, then the soil needs to be dug over to a depth of about 2 feet. The roots like a loose-ish soil, but not compact.
Planting The Seeds
French bean seeds are brilliant. Not to small to be fidgety and not to big so they can fit into small pots easily.
Most local garden centres and garden suppliers will carry a stock of these seeds, but usually only just before Spring. If buying the seeds after Summer, you will be buying the old stock, try to buy in or just before the Spring season commences.
Get some seed trays, either individual pots or open trays. You can even use an old baking tray or a frying pan. Use anything which has a bit of drainage, after all, it is about saving money. Drill holes into the container if necessary.
Compost is best for planting seeds, but normal soil can also be used. Ensure all big lumps are removed from the soil or compost first.
Place a layer of compost in the seed trays, to about 1 cm off of the top of the pot. Place one French bean seed on the soil at a time. Space them about 4 cm apart. Spacing them out will help them survive when it comes to replanting them.
Cover them over with a layer of soil to the top of the seed tray. Water gently and then place in the greenhouse or on a windowsill in direct sunlight.
Water gently, not with a hose, every couple of days to ensure that the soil is kept moist and not wet. Use a spray gun.
NB: Patience. The seeds will not sprout overnight, these are French beans, not magic beans.
If the trays are in the kitchen, turn the tray around occasionally to allow the plant to grow up straight, rather than bending in one direction towards the sun.
After approximately 7-10 days, small shoots will begin to appear. These are your new babies. Treat them kindly and gently and they will reward you. This is the time that you can begin to get excited.
Once the seedlings are about two inches high with some leaves on them, it is time to re-plant them in their final home.
Play them soothing music or even a bit of rock, maybe your harvest will be more to your liking.
When removing from a seed tray, be very gentle. This is where the root system can be damaged and kill the plant.
If using thin plastic seed trays, push up from underneath to loosen the soil and take the seedling out with as much soil attached as possible.
In the soil where intend to plant them, make a hole large enough to place in the seedling and any soil or compost that is attached to the roots.
Place the seedling in the hole and lightly compact soil around it to ensure it is stable and upright.
Place a 3 - 4 foot support, it could even be an old broom handle, approximately 1 inch away from the plant. Ensure it is embedded at least 8 inches into the ground.
Be Patient. The French bean plant will begin to grow quite quickly. Leaves will develop and then small flowers will bloom and then die. DO NOT PANIC.
The small flowers are where your beans will grow. The beans will begin to sprout and grow thicker and longer. This is another exciting time. You have just brought new life into the world on your own.
Keep watering the plants so as the soil is always moist. but not wet. Allow for the water to flow down into the soil, not just settle on the top.
Sowing time is usually April, and harvest time is in July. Once the bean is grown to your own satisfaction, then harvest it. This will allow more beans to grow.
Harvesting your beans as and when you need them is the best way to collect them. This will provide fresh vegetables for the table whenever you need it.
Be careful when you remove the bean from the stalk. If you simply pull the bean, the plant can easily be damaged.
Help with growing french beans is available from your children. They would love to create a new life and watch their plants grow, for at least a week. Then they get bored and leave their parents to do everything. Encourage them to get involved, they will love it, try and get them to a the finished produce.
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