June 19, 2010

Grow your own French Beans 2010

French Bean Seeds PLANT: ‘Cobra’ climbing French Bean


Massive crops of mid green, smooth, round, stringless pods about 18cm (7in) long with an exceptional flavour. Produces attractive mauve flowers and has a long cropping season.





I got these seeds free from Wiggly Wigglers as they were giving away free seeds last year. The good thing about this freebie was I got to choose which seeds I wanted from a selection, rather than just getting another packet of basil! I’ve never grown beans before, so hopefully they won’t be too much trouble and they’ll be happy growing next to my peas.


Sow under cover: March - July 1st Mar
Sow direct: April - July  
Germination time: 14-21 days 7th Mar
Plant out: May - August  
Harvest: May - October  
Time from seed to plate: Within 2-3 months of sowing.  



  • Don’t plant where you have grown beans or peas during the previous couple of years.
  • Soak for 30 mins before sowing


  • Plant out when seedlings are about 8cm tall. Leave 30cm between rows and 7.5cm between plants.


  • Stake for support and to allow plants to climb.
  • As soon as flowers appear, give the plants more water and never let the soil dry out.


  • As soon as the pods begin to appear, start picking. The younger and smaller they are the better they taste. Keep picking regularly – 2 or 3 times a week. As long as there are still flowers on the plant, the more you pick, the more new pods will set.


Useful websites:


March 7th:

07-03 French beans sprouted






I’m pleased that some of the French beans have started to sprout. I think soaking them for 30 minutes before sowing did help.

March 13th:

13-03 French beans repotted

Well the French beans have gone absolutely crazy and grown to 13cm in a week! I’m supposed to plant them out when they get to 8cm tall, but it’s still too cold outside so I just re-potted them. So I’ve got 5 bean plants that will hopefully bring me lots of lovely beans!











13-03 French bean leavesI thought the leaves looked quite interesting as the lower ones are speckled with black. All my seedlings have this, so I’m assuming it’s normal!












March 21st:

21-03 beans 1I started the ‘hardening off’ process today for the beans as well as the peas because they are so tall now. The leaves are 23cm tall and the tall tendril at the top reaches above 40cm! I’ve used bamboo sticks as a form of support, but they really need to be outside where I will be able to use canes as support. I’ll admit that I did sow my bean seeds much earlier than the packet suggested, but I really couldn’t wait until May! Hopefully planting them outside at the end of March won’t be too bad for them.

I’ve moved the peas and beans away from the radiator as it’s too hot (left on to encourage the chillies) and I’m trying to acclimatise them to lower temperatures.

Those funny black leaves have dropped off now, so I guess they were the initial seed leaves that the plant no longer needs.

March 25th:

25-03 french beans I’ve tried to harden off my French beans and the peas, but it’s been quite windy outside and they’ve been suffering from wind burn I think. The leaves are getting shrivelled around the edges and look wilted. Even worse, the stem of one of the beans snapped right in half! So I’m left with just 4 seedlings now. So I’m keeping them indoors until the weather improves, as they just don’t seem ready to face the great outdoors!


06-04 French beans

Just like my peas, I’ve been reluctant to put the beans outdoors for hardening off. The leaves are looking a bit ropey still with white spots and they’re very delicate and papery. I suspect it’s wind burn as that’s what happened to my tomato plants last year when I put them outdoors. They survived and I got lots of fruits, so I’m not too worried.


I would like to get them outdoors as they’re taking up too much space indoors and I keep breaking bits off the plants as I’m moving them around the room! I hope to get the planted outdoors this weekend.




10-04 French beans

I planted the French bean seedlings in the raised bed today. I formed a wigwam from 3 canes (4ft ones bought from Wilkinsons) tied together with a rubber band at the top. I only had 2 seedlings that looked healthy enough to plant, so I planted one seedling next to two of the canes. I will plant a couple of seeds directly into the soil by the third cane later.













19-04 French beans dead

The French bean seedlings are both practically dead. I don’t know if something has picked off the leaves or they just didn’t like the cold. I tried to deter any pests with these green plastic things that were once plant supports for some flowers Steve’s Mum bought last year. Plus I covered them with fleece during the night. But they really didn’t like the transition to the great outdoors. I know I sowed them too early indoors as the packet says to sow in May. But it’s been really warm lately, so I sowed 2 more seeds directly into the soil in the raised bed today. I soaked them first as that seemed to really help.


19-04 French beans

I also sowed 2 inside this toilet roll tube, which I’ve stuck inside a small pot of compost. I’ll keep these on the windowsill and hopefully I’ll have some more seedlings to plant out later.













01-05 French beans

Unfortunately all the seedlings I planted outdoors are dead as something has eaten all the leaves. None of the seeds I sowed outdoors have germinated either.


Luckily the 2 I sowed in the toilet roll have both sprouted! On April 29th the first one sprouted and the second one sprouted today. I’m still shocked at how fast the first one has grown in less than 3 days – it’s already 10cm tall!


Hopefully I will be able to separate these 2 seedlings so they can be planted outdoors. I will make sure I harden them off properly this time and also put netting round them as this has worked for my peas as a deterrent against pesky nibblers.







19th june:

I’ve been very bad at blogging the progress of my French Beans, but that’s mainly because not much has happened. I did manage to successfully plant out one of my seedlings, but it grew very slowly and then today I accidentally snapped it in half. I have to be honest and say that I’m really quite clumsy when it comes to gardening! So I have dedicated the French Bean space to my Mange Tout Peas, which I have to say I much prefer to eat anyway.


I’m not sure if I’ll bother with French Beans again. The seeds were quite easy to germinate, but handling the seedlings was a pain as they were so tall and spindly and they broke very easily. But maybe by next year I will feel more confident and I would probably sow directly into the soil to prevent any damages from my fumbling hands!

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