French Bean 'Red Swan' is an heirloom stringless bean with burgundy red pods. A cross between a purple snap bean and pinto bean, the vigorous plants produce high yields of Romano-type, flattened pods that are meaty and flavourful. A bush or dwarf cultivar, the plants will grow to around 50cm (20in) tall. The colourful pods and pretty bicolour, pink and white flowers make French Bean ‘Red Swan’ very ornamental and a good choice for large pots and containers.
This wonderful heirloom variety has tan coloured seeds which can also be used as a dry bean in soups and stews. For a regular and steady supply, sow a few seeds every couple of weeks, from April to July. Maturing in 50 to 60 days. you can usually be eating beans 12 weeks after sowing the seeds. The succulent fleshy pods bursting with flavour turn bright green with cooked, they are best steamed to retain colour.
Dwarf French beans are one of the most popular garden vegetables, very easy to grow, they give superb yields for a small amount of space, outlay and effort, and are very quick to give results. The plants need no thinning, transplanting or training as other vegetables do and like their climbing cousins, they are also self fertile and ideal for growing under cover early or late in the season.
The beans are flavoursome and versatile in cookery and freeze very well. To enjoy at their best, pick when young and tender, they require only a brief cooking time and are best steamed and served whole. If the pods are left to mature on the plant they can be dried and shelled as haricot beans for winter use.
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.
If you wish to train the plant vertically, 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
Sowing: Sow indoors late April and May, outdoors in late May to July.
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 July. 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 50 to 60 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 20 grams Average Seed Count 50 Seeds Common Name Dwarf French Bean, Bush variety Family Leguminosae Genus Phaseolus Species vulgaris Cultivar Red Swan Hardiness Hardy Annual Height 50cm (20in) tall 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 50 to 60 days. Time to Harvest Most should bear pods from late July to first frosts.