How to grow French beans
Sow French bean seeds 5cm deep, 15cm apart in rows in a sheltered site, May or early June, when all chance of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Or get a head start indoors, sowing from mid-April and transplanting later. Sow every three weeks for a continuous crop.
Water French bean plants when the pods are swelling (in dry weather). Dwarf French bean plants can be grown in blocks to support each other but you can also use twiggy sticks. Or sow in a container, at least 30cm wide and 45cm deep. Climbing French beans will need the support of a sturdy wigwam or double-row A-frame.
Harvesting and using French beans
Cut pods when they cleanly snap in half. Pick every 2-3 days. For dried beans, leave the pods to go brown and hang the plant upside-down to dry in a shed or dry, dark place. Soak dried beans in water and boil before use.
Tips for growing French beans
French beans are hungry, thirsty crops so mulch the ground around them during the summer to conserve moisture and add nutrients. Slugs love young bean plants, so keep a watchful eye or create barriers!
Saving French bean seeds
The pods should be dried on the vines, but if bad weather threatens, uproot the plants and hang them upside down somewhere warm until the pods are completely dry. French bean seeds should last in cool, dry storage for at least three years.