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Beans, Beans, Beans

by Tim Brooks

17 May 2023

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This month is probably the one most of us gardeners enjoy the most, especially the latter part of it, as we plant out all those frost tender vegetables and bedding plants that have been so protected from the occasional frosts. The chances of those are minimal now, but your plants have to go out at some point.
I usually plant out my runner beans and dwarf French beans the last week of May, just to be safe. I sow a variety of runner bean called ‘moonlight’ which is very prolific, producing loads of pods from masses of white flowers with white beans inside. Ideal for freezing too. Usually grown up 7ft tall bamboo canes either as a ‘wigwam’ shape or in a long line if you have the space.

I’m also growing a row of climbing ‘borlotto beans’ variety ‘Lingua di fuoco’ which are great for soups in winter. The pods are red and mottled, beans round and pink. But you only eat the beans inside, the pods allowed to dry on the plants, then picked to dry totally indoors in autumn, then podded and the beans which we store in a dry container.

Beans are easy to grow and only really require watering and tying to the canes as they grow. I pinch out the growing tips once they reach the top of the canes. It helps the pods to develop. In dry weather ‘mist spray’ with water the flower bunches, as it helps them set. Otherwise the flowers can drop through lack of pollination. This happened to many last summer during the hot drought conditions. Plant beans around 20cms apart and water in well. The dwarf varieties do not need any support and they also produce handfuls of young bean pods. Pick daily as they are best young before pods get too tough and ‘stringy’.

This month I’m also setting out my pumpkins and squashes about 36 cms apart and again, they need a lot of watering. Also plant out courgettes too. More beetroot, radishes, carrots, fennel, Swedes, turnips, peas, etc. It really is a busy month for putting everything outside including outdoor tomatoes. Last week of May or first week of June as a rule. They’ll need support from canes tied in. Regular watering and a feed once a week once the flowers appear. Feed tomatoes with a high potash feed, usually in liquid form diluted in a watering can.

A busy time also for putting out the bedding plants. Dazzling displays of petunias, marigolds, begonias, asters, cosmos, rudbeckias, lobelia, etc. You cannot beat putting a bit of colour into your lives! I grow a few to attract the bees and butterflies as it helps the pollination of the vegetable flowers and fruit bushes. I also grow a border of Sunflowers on our allotment as they look stunning in summer and get loads of bees on them. The seeds vital for the birds in winter too.

Happy Gardening!
Instagram: @tim_brooks27

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