One benefit of the colder weather is that the beans have started setting pods. They won’t do anything when it is too hot, so it is always worth hedging your bets and sowing some early, say in May, some in June and others as late as July. That way, if conditions are right, you can still be harvesting beans into October.
This year I managed to save one unknown heritage climbing French bean (see picture at top) from the predations of the slugs and snails out of an original 5 plants. At last it has produced a handful of succulent pods. Generally speaking French beans have a nicer flavour than runner beans and are less inclined to be stringy. For those with limited space, they can be grown in decent sized pots.
I also have a tepee of purple podded beans which are the offspring of a few pods I ‘foraged’ from the garden of the Castle climbing Centre in Finsbury Park during my Growing Leader training. I am particularly pleased, since when I took them they weren’t completely dry, and I had to leave them for a few weeks to mature without knowing if they would become viable. Obviously they did, because I have had a decent crop over several weeks. They are rather ‘squeaky’ to eat, but like the French beans they have a good flavour. After the disappointment of last year, the very satisfactory bean harvest has encouraged me to investigate growing other interesting hued beans next year. This will be especially eye-catching for anyone visiting the Gardening4Health community gardens which have been set up in partnership with Feel Good Greenwich.