I have a confession. I never used to like French or runner beans. The ones I was used to seemed woody and bland, a little bitter even. Then I grew my own and now they are one of my favourite parts of summer.
Home grown beans are an entirely different matter, sweet and crunchy they have a lovely zest taste that makes you feel like you’re being treated to the best in life.
My ‘go-to’ bean of choice is the beautiful Trionfo Violetto, a rich, sultry, deep purple which is lovely and sweet. They look so handsome throughout the growing cycle with deep reddish purple tinged stems, violet flowers and then those lovely deep coloured bean pods you’ll want to keep them at the front of the border to add a little sophisticated glamour to your veggies.
French beans taste best when they are fresh from picking but they can easily be frozen if you find yourself with lots and lots. Once they start producing you have to keep on picking them to keep them on going. They will produce abundant crops until the frosts and temperatures end their season.
Enjoy the harvest.x.
Simple recipe idea for a breakfast omelette.
Traditionally you can steam them and add them to other veg of a lovely dinner but why not try them in a Spanish style omelette for breakfast?
Lightly steam the beans and then drain them. Put a little some coconut oil into a pan, add onions, garlic, a little hot pepper and gently stir fry until soft, add some callaloo or spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from the heat. In a bowl whisk up some eggs, add a generous helping of thyme and black pepper and stir in. Add the veggies into the mix and stir everything together.
Before the next step, turn on the grill in your oven.
Return the pan to the heat. Put a little more oil into the pan, pour the mixture in and let the bottom cook. Tilt the pan a little to cook as much of the egg as possible.
Finish off under the grill until the eggs are fully cooked.
A dash of hot pepper sauce and it’s heaven on a plate.
Growing French Beans
French beans are tender plants coming originally from South America. They have to be once of the best cropping plants as given the right conditions and care they will deliver the most abundant harvests.
Sow them in late spring/early summer in large modules indoors or direct sow in situ once the weather has warmed up and all risk of frost has gone. Plant them about 8in apart in a sunny and sheltered place as they will need warmth and not to be too batter by winds. With warm temperatures they will quickly establish and get underway.
If you love French beans then sowing two sets is a good idea. A dwarf variety, perfect for containers, will start to produce first. You can then sow another climbing variety a couple of weeks later to crop throughout the rest of the season.
For climbing varieties give them good supports which they twine around. They will easily reach the top of a 6ft pole.
Make sure the ground/container that you’re planting them in have lots of moisture retaining soil/compost. In the ground you can do some preparation by digging a trench and throwing in vegetable scraps from the kitchen and recovering with good soil. In a container you can do this by adding the scraps into the a layer in the pot and then adding more compost. Beans don’t like to dry out and will stop producing if they are under stress. Keep the soil well watered in hot weather with a good soaking.
Pick them regularly and once the entire harvest has been collected, water well again and they may produce a second, albeit smaller, crop.
*Pic: Trionfo Violetto. Purple beans are so very pretty and their are lots of varieties available. Flowers are gorgeously violet and the stems are deep purple. They do lose their colour on cooking but that hardly matters. If you’re looking for dwarf one, you could try Purple Queen.