Allotment, Crop - Seed to Table, Gardening on a budget, Grow Your Own, Propagation, Storage

GYO – Beans! Seed to table

So this week I purchased my first seeds and within the selection were our ‘Best of All!’, these beans are something I would sow now and put out in the greenhouse as the frost seems to be an indicator helping the seed germinate when the weather gets warmer. At £1 a pack they are very reasonable, as seedlings are £3 per tray of ten growing your own is far cheaper. Obviously if put outside they would be prone to damping off or being nibbled by pigeons or pests which is why they are put within the polycarbonate frame.

This will enable me to water as required, ensuring in April I will have some germinated seedlings to position at the bottom of my wire trellis or A-Frames. The seedlings are susceptible to being slugged so as I set the plants around a foot apart I add a ring of salt to the base until they are established and eventually mulch with straw to prevent the weeds taking over!

I tend to make a high structure for my beans, my A-frame being tied a few inches below the top of ten foot canes. These are around £3 for ten at Poundstretchers lasting several years if stored properly. I have added a few trellis arches to grow them up a variety of spaces and free up further space to climb small varieties of pumpkin.

The plants did not enjoy the heat of the past summer, so my main harvest despite early sowings were in August when the weather cooled and the rain finally began to fall. I find these can be a good crop, if you are lucky enough to save some for seed it could only cost you the price of your first pack, I saved a few of last years which I hope to sow. In the first year I purchased some green manure, I chose field beans as they can over winter, still having half a bag I will set these in after my potato crop.

Whatever varieties you choose for beans either dwarf or climbing they allow an opportunity to grow with your children, which is my plan for this weekend. So, as another round of colds, the frosty weather keeping us in! I shall be making time for them all to plant their own.

The fruit is set like tomato plants and sets from the flowers the plant produces, so once the flower is pollinated the beans will be produced, ensure the pods are mature before picking.

To save these crops, choose mature pods and set them to dry, once they are crispy store the seeds in a brown envelope or tin, away from any damp of moisture. These can be planted for an additional sowing that year or saved for the start of the following season!

There is never a bad time to sow magic beans… for little readers there is also a few books that companion the task, obviously Jack and the beanstalk, which has a great film for older children. Those lucky enough to be part of the imagination library may have received a book on peas, which shows their journey from field, factory, to supermarket, a highly enjoyable book to share! and the crops obviously grow in a similar habit!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

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