How to Grow French Beans

Learn how to grow French beans — plus climbing runner beans — to create a productive vegetable addition to your garden.

Grow beans

Add climbing French or running beans to your garden.

Photo Courtesy DK

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Packed with hundreds of gardening projects, from planting herbs in pots to creating a vegetable garden to feed the family, How to Grow Practically Everything (DK, 2010) gives complete beginners the confidence and know-how to grow almost anything. Each project is a complete package, with step-by-step photographic details and sumptuous end shots to ensure great results. In this excerpt, learn how to grow climbing beans — great, productive vegetable plants to add to your garden. 

You can buy this book from the GRIT store: How to Grow Practically Everything. 

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Climbing French beans and runner beans are among the most productive vegetable plants in the garden, but you do have to treat them well to get the best crops. They are easy to care for once planted out and established, but the key to success is to nourish the soil well before planting time.

When to start: Spring

At their best: Summer

Time to complete: 3 hours over a few months

You will need: Bean seeds, coir pots, seed compost, garden canes, string, well-rotted garden compost of farmyard manure

1. Sow seed in pots

French and runner beans are sensitive to frost, so sow them inside, one to each pot. Set the pots on a tray in a warm, sunny spot, and water the seedlings regularly; do not let them dry out. Plant them outdoors once all the risk of frost has passed.

2. Prepare your trench

Dig out a trench to at least one spade’s depth and fill the base with a deep layer of compost or farmyard manure. This will give your beans the energy they need. Then, use long garden canes to create a sturdy climbing frame to support them all summer.

3. Tie in stems

Plant one seedling at the base of each cane and tie the stem to it, until it takes hold by itself. You can also sow bean seeds directly into the soil in the late spring, after the frosts. If you do, plant two seeds per cane in case one fails to grow. If both come up, weed out the weakest.

4. Water and wait

Beans are thirsty, so water them often, especially when they start flowering. If the plants are too dry, the blooms will drop off and you will lose the crop. Harvest the pods when they are young and tender, before you can see the beans swelling inside.

Blast Off Aphids on Beans

Sap-sucking aphids cause a lot of damage to plants, and they love tender bean tips. A good way to tackle them that doesn’t require chemicals is to blast them off with a key of water. A hand mister is also useful during hot weather, as a fine spray on the flowers can improve pollination.

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from How to Grow Practically Everything by Zia Allaway and Lia Leendertz and published by DK, 2010. Buy this book from our store: How to Grow Practically Everything.