The climbing bean 'Blue Lake' is a classic choice for early beans of highest quality eating. Dating from 1885, it is a wonderfully prolific climbing bean with a long, steady cropping pattern of tender and tasty green beans. It does well even in adverse weather, they defy summer drought and remain sugar sweet and tender when cooked.
Blue Lake produces dark green pods that remain stringless and fibreless at all stages of growth. They are tender and rich, and filled with white seeds that are of incomparable flavour.
Growing to around 210cm (6 to 7ft), they can be grown against a trellis, up netting or up canes set 100cm (3ft) apart. They can be interplanted with peas or runner beans. They are an excellent variety to grow in cold greenhouse or polytunnel.
Because they use vertical space, they free up the horizontal rows in the vegetable garden for other varieties while bearing abundant harvests and they are easier than bush beans to harvest.
Direct-sow after all danger of frost, and for best harvest, keep sowing at three week intervals until early summer. Matures in 60 days.
Many gardeners prefer pole beans for their distinctive 'beany' flavour. Eaten raw they make a tasty and crunchy addition to summer salads, but their versatility doesn't end there as they are perfect for freezing - and any left at the end of the season can be dried and the pure white beans used as haricot beans.
Where to grow:
Beans prefer to grow in moist, fertile soil in a sunny, sheltered spot away from strong winds. Prepare the soil for planting by digging over and adding plenty of organic material, this will help to improve the soil's moisture-retaining ability and fertility.
Beans can also be grown in pots. Choose pots at least 45cm (18in) in diameter and make sure there are plenty of drainage holes. Fill with a mixture of equal parts loam-based compost and loam-free compost.
Create a support before planting, either make a wigwam with canes, lashed together with string at the top, or create a parallel row of canes, which have their tops tightly secured to a horizontal cane. Add to the ornamental appeal of wigwams by planting a few fragrant sweetpeas alongside them. These will twine together as they climb, attracting pollinating insects to the beans, and providing flowers to pick at the same time as the crop
Sow under cover from mid April or direct sow outside after the last frosts from mid May to July.
Beans with the exception of Broad Beans are warm season crops and frost tender. Seeds germinate best at 18 to 25°C; seed will rot in cold, wet soil and even if they do germinate the plants will lack vigour and be overtaken by a later sowing into a warmer soil. They thrive in warm conditions and so are an ideal crop to grow under protection - greenhouse or polytunnel.
Even when temperatures are not below freezing, cold air can damage bean plants, so don't plant too early. Sowing seeds early indoors gives a faster and more reliable germination rate. Beans sown directly outside often germinate poorly or get attacked by slugs.
Avoid problems by sowing seeds in mid April and May in pots or root trainers in the greenhouse. Robust young plants will be ready to plant outside within about 5 weeks, growing away far quicker than outdoor sowings. Plant outdoors only after the last frosts, May onwards.
Sow a single bean seed, 4cm (½in) deep, in root trainers or into a 7.5cm (3in) pot filled with multipurpose compost. Water well, label and place on a sunny windowsill to germinate. Seedlings will be ready to plant out after about three weeks. Before planting, put in a cold frame to acclimatise.
Alternatively, beans can be sown directly in the soil between the second half of May and the middle of July.
Plant two seeds next to your support about 5cm (2in) deep. Water well after sowing and then do not water again until seedlings appear.
After germination remove the smaller and less robust of the two young plants. As they grow, ensure the plants continue to twine around their canes. Hill plants, up to 10cm (4in) deep, to protect from wind damage.
Having shallow roots regular and plentiful watering is vital. Whilst they will prove drought tolerant, good watering from flowering time onwards will ensure maximum pod development. Beans should be watered particularly heavily, twice a week in dry weather. Mulch around the stems in early summer.
Don’t hoe around bean plants too deeply or you may damage the roots.
Beans capture nitrogen from the air, so make sure the soil contains the other essential ingredients, phosphorus and potassium. So for the fertilizer use something like 10-20-10. They leave the soil nitrogen-enriched even after harvest
Matures in 60 days. Pick daily, early in the morning for the best flavour, they are best picked often and before you can see the bean seed shape inside. Most should bear pods from late July and cropping can continue until the first frosts, or longer if plants are protected. Climbing varieties produce for a longer period than dwarf varieties.
The French bean is a must for anyone growing their own vegetables. For a start it’s very easy to grow, and secondly its packed with goodness, particularly protein and vitamins A and C. This goes some way to explaining their enduring popularity: beans have been a food crop that has been grown for over 8000 years.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 30 grams Average Seed Count 105 White Seeded Seeds Seed Form Treated for improved germination Common Name Climbing French Bean.
Family Leguminosae Genus Phaseolus Species vulgaris Cultivar Blue Lake Stringless Hardiness Hardy Annual Position Sunny position Aspect In a sheltered spot away from strong winds. Soil Moist, fertile soil Time to Sow Sow indoors late April and May, outdoors in late May to July. Harvest 60 days. Time to Harvest Most should bear pods from late July to first frosts. Notes Despite the fact that French Beans are sometimes known as String Beans,
Blue Lake is actually stringless.