Dwarf beans are really easy to grow so are great for those that have just started gardening. They grow a mass of full size beans on short vines that climb up a trellis and don’t need a lot of space.
Climbing beans up a trellis keeps the beans off the ground but this can mean that they are more likely to be damaged by wind so keep that in mind when choosing a location to plant them. Beans can be ready to harvest within eight weeks and will produce many more for a couple of months.
It’s best to build the trellis or climbing support first before preparing the soil because as you work, your feet will squash down the soil.
After the support is built, dig the soil over lightly, adding in some compost or organic matter. If the soil is very sandy, add in even more compost as beans need rich, well drained soil.
Use a dibbler or large stick to make holes about 30cm apart close to the base of the trellis. Gently place a seedling in each hole and push the soil around the rootball. Water the seedlings and the soil.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
As the vines grow they will sound out tendrils which work like fingers to hold onto the trellis or climbing frame but if the vine heads off in the wrong direction, carefully encourage it up the frame and if necessary, use pieces of stocking to tie it on.
More beans will grow if side dressings of nitrogen fertiliser or liquid fertiliser are applied just when the flowers begin to form. Keep the soil moist and apply a layer of mulch.
Harvest the beans when they are still young because this is when they are sweetest. Simply pick the beans off with your fingers. Once harvesting has started, many more beans will grow and they will need to be picked every three or four days.
HOW TO EAT
Beans are best if they are picked and eaten on the same day though they will keep in the fridge for a few days or can be blanched for one minute and then frozen. They can also be eaten raw so some might not even make it into the kitchen.
To prepare stringless beans, simply wash and then ‘top and tail’ them which simply means to trim off each end. The beans can be left whole or can be cut into smaller pieces before cooking them in the microwave or boiling them for just three minutes. Try to serve them crunchy so that they still have great flavour. Find great recipes in the Smarty Plants Kitchen.
HOW THEY GROW
Bean vines wind their way up poles or climbing frames fairly quickly. They then produce small white flowers which are pollinated by insects and then start to produce beans at their base. The beans hang from thin stalks until they are large enough to harvest.
Botanical Name: Phaseolus vulgaris
Life Cycle: Annual
When to Grow: Late spring, summer and autumn.
Height/Width: 50cm x 50cm.
Requirements: Plant in full sun and build the vines a climbing frame. Fertilise when the flowers are forming and water regularly.
Nutritional Benefits: Beans are a brilliant source of fibre as well as folate which helps with growth. They are also rich in vitamin C.