‘Purple Queen’ French beans are the sort of fun, sassy crop every stylish gardener wants to grow in their good-looking veg plot. They race up their supports, burst into shocking magenta flower, and then produce hundreds of gorgeous regal purple beans.
‘Purple’ Queen is a stunning plant with deep glossy purple pods, dark purplish green foliage and delicate purple flowers: wasted in the vegetable patch! The plants are upright, compact and bushy and can be grown in pots and containers.
Of course with beans it’s all about flavour, Purple Queen is one of the best eating beans around. The taste is wonderfully fresh with a crisp, clean aftertaste and the fact that they are also stringless heightens the culinary experience.
Never, ever liken home grown beans to those that you buy in the shops. Home grown beans are eaten for pure pleasure, shop beans are eaten as one of your obligatory ‘five a day’.
The pods are attractive and round with a waxy finish. They can be eaten whole or sliced, and are also good for freezing. Best picked when around the thickness of a pencil and as with most legumes, the more you pick the better your crop will be.
Delicious though they are straight from the plant, please practice moderation, raw beans can be unhealthy when eaten to excess!
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.
There is no need to provide support as plants will be self supporting. However, if you train the plants up a cane, or even the lower part of a trellis, it will ensure that the pods are kept off the ground and make picking the pods so much easier.
Late April to June
Even when temperatures are not below freezing, cold air can damage bean plants, so don't plant too early. Plant outdoors only after the last frosts, May onwards
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 late 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.
Sow a single bean seed, 4cm (1.5in) 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 June. Plant two seeds next to your support about 5cm (2in) deep. Water well. 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.
Having shallow roots regular and plentiful watering is vital. Beans should be watered particularly heavily, twice a week in dry weather, both when the flower buds appear and once they're open. Mulch when conditions are dry.
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
Ready to pick in around 52 days. The more you pick, the more they produce. Most should bear pods from late July and cropping of all types can continue until the first frosts, or longer if plants are protected. When boiled, don’t be too disappointed if the pods lose some of that beautiful purple colour, as they tend to turn to a deep green.
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: broad beans have been a food crop that has been grown for over 8000 years.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25 grams Average Seed Count 100 Seeds Common Name French Bean, Dwarf Bean Family Leguminosae Genus Phaseolus Species vulgaris Cultivar Purple Queen Hardiness Hardy Annual Height 40-50cm (16-20") 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 June. Harvest 52 days to maturity. Time to Harvest Most should bear pods from late July to first frosts.