Plant two bean seeds close together

Beans are a very rewarding crop and relatively easy to grow. I love them because they don’t take up much space but within a few weeks you can harvest an abundance of crisp, flavoursome beans. Soak seeds overnight to increase the speed of germination. Just put the seeds you want to plant into a bowl and cover with water. The next morning, water the soil where you are going to put the beans and plant seeds two at a time pushing them about 4cm into the soil. I always plant two because often one will not grow. Cover with soil but don’t water as the soil and the seeds are already wet. If you don’t soak the seeds then you will need to water. Leave about 20cm between plants if they are dwarf forms, or 15cm if they are climbers.




Place a guard around each pair of seeds

The guard protects the young plants from snails

The bright red flowers of scarlet runner beans




Snails and slugs are a problem in my garden, and snails and slugs love breakfasting on beans, so as soon as the seeds go in I put a guard with copper tape on it around the spot I have planted each pair of beans. I use lengths of drainage pipe but pots with the bottom cut out work just as well. The copper tape comes in a roll with adhesive tape on the back so it is simple to put a complete ring of copper around the guard. The snail or slug touches the copper and gets a small electric shock, so it heads elsewhere for breakfast. Although the copper tape is not cheap, the guards last for years and can be used over and over again. Once the young bean seedlings appear, if both have grown, nip out the smaller one so that there is just one plant in each guard. I leave the guard around the base of the bean until the final bean is harvested.

You can grow beans in pots or garden beds, but wherever you put the climbing beans they will need support. Try tying a tripod of sticks together and planting one bean seed at the base of each. Or grow them up a fence, or an arch or even a old bed spring base. I always plant a few at the base of my corn plants (once the corn is growing well). You are only limited by your imagination. Some of my favourite climbing beans are pictured below.

My soil is acid so when I plant I add a handful of lime per square metre of soil,  once the beans are growing well I mulch with mushroom compost which is usually alkaline. I also water every couple of weeks with seaweed extract. In no time at all you will have a bountiful bean crop. And remember, when the crop has finished, don’t pull the beans from the soil, cut them at the base and leave the roots to enrich and add nitrogen, being a legume, beans add nitrogen to the soil.

Golden wax pole bean

Purple King beans

Lazy Housewife beans