Grow beans for great veg and add fertility to the soil, says Bob
YOU can grow more crops with less input if you also grow more beans. You see, beans are legumes – a group of plants that have nodules on their roots that make a surplus of fertility, whereas most other plants just extract fertility and thus leave less in the soil. Beans actually create more than they need, so they’re worth growing even if you don’t want to eat them – though that would be foolish.
Beans are delicious to eat, particularly when they’re cooked straight after picking, and are much tastier than those that have been sitting in a shop for a while. And there are so many beans to choose from. It may be too late to sow or plant broad beans, but other beans are happier going into the soil now that it has warmed up.
The quickest and, to my mind, the tastiest are dwarf French beans. You can sow or plant these now and be picking delicious green pods in only a few weeks’ time. And if you keep picking, they will crop until autumn in several separate flushes. Some varieties are shelled so you eat the beans themselves and not the pods.
Then there are the similar climbing French beans that need supports to scramble up, but they’re worth it as they produce huge crops of pods. Climbing French beans are sometimes confused with runner beans, which are different and usually have red flowers, larger pods with a different taste and texture. Sometimes these beans are shelled and eaten, but more commonly the whole pod is consumed.
“If you keep picking, they will crop until autumn”
Between these last two are Borlotti beans. These are closer to the climbers than the runners and, as the name suggests, they come from Italy. Borlotti beans are very tasty, though their pods are seldom eaten. With so many to choose from, why not try a few of each of these to see which you like best?
If you want something different, try Borlotti beans Climbing French beans can produce huge crops