How to grow French beans

French beans are a varied and versatile legume also known as haricots verts. They are a thinner and shorter type of green bean, with their earthier flavour making them a scrumptious side for any dish. Whether you want to start growing dwarf or climbing French beans, it’s relatively straightforward and they’re a great crop for beginners.

They feature in many recipes and, with the right conditions and tools, you could have a successful harvest.

When to plant French beans

To get the most out of your French beans, you’ll want to begin your indoor preparations early and plant them outside once the risk of frost has passed. This will ensure you reduce the risk of your crops dying and increase the likelihood of great tasting produce.

We recommend first sowing your seeds in March before planting them outside between late May and June.

How to sow, plant and grow French beans

How to grow French beansSowing French beans

Once you’ve decided if you’re growing dwarf or climbing French beans, the first step will be to sow them. As a tender crop, the sowing will first be done inside as you place them into pots ready to grow.

How to grow French beans in pots

Sow one bean into a small pot with 5cm deep soil and place it on a sunny windowsill or in a propagator to allow it to germinate. They will require regular watering during this stage.

If you prefer to sow your seeds outside, however, you’ll have to do so under cover to ensure they successfully grow.

Planting French beans

Move your crops outside once the threat of frost is gone and the soil warms. Prepare the area by adding quality compost or some well-rotted manure, so your plants can get the nutrients they need to grow.
Planting both dwarf and climbing French beans outside is straightforward. Here’s how you do it:

Planting dwarf French beans

We recommend planting these in the ground in blocks so they can grow properly. Dwarf French beans need spacing of around 15cm for the best results.

Planting climbing French beans

Sow this variation of beans in a wigwam or a double row to get the best results. The plants can grow very tall, so knowing how to support climbing French beans is vital. We recommend putting your bamboo cane supports in place before sowing, so you can tie the plant around them as they begin to grow.

Growing French beans

Now planted, you’ll need to do your bit to allow them to thrive and grow into the scrumptious beans they’re destined to become. This is done by watering them regularly and generously.

You should apply a mulch to the area where your French beans are growing too, as this will keep moisture in the soil. Use well-rotted manure or mushroom compost.

Common problems French beans face

All gardens are susceptible to weed invasions, so you MUST keep your growing area weed free or risk a poor harvest. Other things you should look out for include:
  1. Insect pests that eat into your crops. These can often be killed with soap or insect repellent. If you want to steer clear of chemicals, however, you could try companion planting for better pest control.
  2. Diseases such as stem anthracnose and bean rust are commonly caused by conditions that are too wet. This is why providing shelter to the plant is a necessity.
  3. Seedlings failing to emerge is usually a result of soil that is not yet warm enough. If you’re worried about this happening, place a cloth over the soil to make the ground warmer.   

When and how to harvest French beans

Your French beans will be ready to harvest between May and October depending on when you planted them. As a general rule of thumb, it should take around eight weeks until they’re ready to pick.

French bean plants can grow to around six feet tall, but the two things to look out for are how long the pods have grown – which should be around 10cm – and how see-through they are. They should be picked before the individual beans can be seen through the pod.

Harvesting dwarf and climbing French beans is a straightforward task. Use scissors to snip them off and you’re good to go. With French beans, regular snipping encourages them to grow more beans in the future, so fill your boots!

Start growing French beans in a polytunnel

French beans demand a lot of sunlight and shelter to thrive and a polytunnel is an ideal solution for that. If you feel inspired to grow French beans at home, why not do it in one of our polytunnels? We have a range of different sizes for you to browse, so we’re confident there’ll be one that’s perfect for your plot of land.

Explore our collection today and be sure to call us or email with any questions you may have. Our team will always be happy to help.

Looking for more crop growing tips and tricks? Be sure to check out our other blogs to find your next project.
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