Grow beans for great veg and add fer­til­ity to the soil, says Bob

Amateur Gardening - - Content -

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

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