Three things I’ve learnt from growing beans

Posted by Laura Grant on February 2, 2009
Posted in Garden

beans-too-close
Don’t do this at home: an illustration of how not to plant two rows of beans

Not all of us are born with green fingers, some of us have to learn by trial and error. So, here are some of the pearls of wisdom I have gleaned from my bean-growing mistakes.

1. GIVE YOURSELF ROOM TO MANOEUVRE
When you plant your bean seeds do it in such a way that you leave enough space between the plants for you to be able to reach the beans when you want to pick them.

This may seem obvious, but I planted eight bean seeds – four next to a wall on which I’d attached some plastic mesh for the plants to grow up, and then another four in a row about 30cm in front of the first row. The second row has its own sheet of mesh tied to two dowl sticks. I left a space of about 30cm between the two rows because that’s how far seed packets tell you to leave between plants. But it was only once the plants grew tall and started to produce beans that I realised I hadn’t left enough space for me to get between the rows to pick the things (even finding them among all the leaves is tricky). It also makes aphid control complicated.

2. KNOW WHICH WAY THE SUN SHINES
Beans grow quite tall so you need to plant them in a spot where they will not block out the sun for other plants.

Another obvious one, you’d think … but my mistake, which I discovered only once the bean plants started to get quite big, was that the one row of beans blocks out the sun for the other one because when I planted them I didn’t pay attention to how the light travels over my garden during the course of the day. Now the one’s in the back row are has-beans (sorry, couldn’t resist).

3. GROW BEANS ONLY IF YOU REALLY LIKE THEM, OR KNOW PEOPLE WHO DO
Bean plants seem to just go on and on producing. I have been harvesting beans for about a month – just a handful a day, mind you, but this is far more than I can get my family to eat. I have had to start giving the beans away. All in all, I estimate that my veg patch has produced beans worth more than R50, or about five packets that you’d buy in a supermarket. But, I must admit, it is quite nice to be able to give people homegrown food. It makes me feel like I must be doing something right.

Comments

One Response to “Three things I’ve learnt from growing beans”

  1. Riaan
    November 12th, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

    Plant more beans – then chop, blanch and freeze them. I’ve got about 40 plants growing at once, it supplies two families with enough beans for a year (around once or twice a week)

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