Real Men Sow

Why July and August are Great Months to Sow French Beans

Posted on by in beginners with 5 Comments

frenchEven though, most French bean seed packets suggest sowing until June, it’s now that I always step up my growing.

In recent years, I’ve sown the reliable, productive dwarf green variety in July and August. Mr Fothergill’s Tendergreen is my favourite, and has been brilliant on my allotment.

From my experience, French beans are one of the rare crops that has never failed, and I’ve found the late sowing tactic to be great for a number of reasons.

Speedy Growing
This time of year, seeds germinate within days and French beans are no exception. I sowed the seedlings pictured on the 7th July, and they’d germinated within 5 days. Only two weeks later, and they’re ready to go out onto the plot. If I get them in today, I reckon they’ll be cropping by the middle of August, easily.

Good Freezers
I will sow a crop in August too, with the intention of freezing most the harvest. French beans freeze very well, and during winter provide a welcome change from the leafy and rooty veg that dominate the colder months.

This tactic will also save money by extending the amount of vegetables available to me over once winter arrives.

Unfussy Plants
French beans will stomach drier, poorer conditions than other veg, so will grow well if space is tight and you’re planting out where other veg has been taken out. The other veg will have taken nutrients from the soil, so an unfussy and undemanding plant like French beans are the perfect choice for these conditions.

How to Grow
I sow two seeds in pots of multipurpose compost, and leave outside to germinate, and I plant them out once the seedlings reach about five or since inches high. When putting the plants in the ground, I water well and then pop a good mulch of compost around the base to keep as moisture in as possible. This is particular useful if the weather is as warm as it has been.

One mistake I often make is missing pickings, and letting some of the beans get quite big. They can get tough if you let them grow too large, so its best to try and pick when the beans are young. French beans can be incredibly productive, and keeping up is sometimes tricky, but they will continue to crop if you harvest regularly.

A successful Autumn sowing will see French beans available until well into October.

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5 Comments

  1. SeanJuly 21, 2013 at 9:19 pmReply

    I was going through my seeds this evening and think I’d give them a go at late sowing. Good to know that it will work. Tomorrow is now french bean sowing day. Thanks Jono.

    • Jono

      JonoJuly 22, 2013 at 12:39 pmReplyAuthor

      Good luck Sean!

  2. ChrisJuly 21, 2013 at 9:35 pmReply

    This is a comforting post indeed – I was concerned I’d missed the window.

    Do you think there are any other beans (or similar) that might also be suitable? Could you get away with mange tout in this manner?

  3. Damion YoungJuly 22, 2013 at 10:10 amReply

    Thanks for the top tip.

    @Chris you can definitely sow all varieties of pea until the end of the month – choose a mildew resistant variety though to cope with late-summer conditions.

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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