Growing dwarf French beans in a corner of even the most neglected garden requires no knowledge or expertise. All you need is an area about 90cms by 90cms. Dwarf French Beans will grow in quite poor soil. A good time to sow seeds is in late May. Any variety of dwarf French bean you can buy or be given but not the dry beans you might have in your store cupboards which won’t grow into tasty green beans.
Loo rolls or paper towel rolls cut in half make ideal pots to start bean seeds off. You can also use yoghurt or cream pots which you have made some drainage holes in. Put the loo rolls into a plastic container and be sure to punch some drainage holes in the bottom. A piece of string tied around the top will keep them in place. Fill the loo rolls up with soil which has been well sifted, free from stones and lumps. If you have any old, used compost it will do the job just as well because seeds do not need fertile soil in which to germinate. Fill the loo rolls to the top and then give them a gentle tap to firm the soil a little.
Put one seed into each loo roll – two if the tube is large – and cover with soil. You want the seeds to be about 2cms below the surface. Not all the seeds will germinate so having a few spares is always a good idea. If you want to grow nine plants sow twelve seeds. Any surplus plants you can give to friend or neighbour to grow for themselves.
Water the pots and put somewhere warm like a windowsill. You can put another plastic tray on top but this is not necessary. Be sure the soil is moist but not water-logged and in a week or so seedlings will start to emerge Don’t forget to add a label! If you put something over the top be sure to remove it as soon as the first seeds germinate.
Once you have sown your dwarf French bean seeds it is time to prepare a bit of ground to grow them in. Cover the area you want to plant in with a mulch of cardboard to stop any weeds from growing and to retain moisture in the summer months. Secure with a few bricks or skewers.
Mark up on the cardboard spacings of 20cms x 20cms. Cut holes through the cardboard about 5cms in diameter – big enough to easily accommodate the loo-rolls. Using a trowel, although an old table spoon will do the job too, dig holes about 10cms deep – slightly more than the length of the loo rolls and plant each bean ‘module’. Crumble the soil you remove before filling in the hole. Remove any small stones you might find and any grass/weeds that you dig out. If you have more than one bean growing in a loo roll ‘module’ you can gently tease them apart and plant separately or discard the weakest one.
Be sure to give the plants a good watering which will help them settle in.
Dwarf French beans can grow to about 60cms so putting a few bamboo canes or sticks around them and tying with string will stop the plants from flopping over. If the weather is warm and sunny you should have beans to pick in July.