French Bean – Purple Teepee

I grew purple teepee attracted by the idea of having wonderful purple beans easy to see above the foliage. This was for both looks with the wonderful colour contrast between purple and green but also ease of harvesting I’ve always found purple beans hard to see against the earth.

I found these sadly lacking on the “displaying above the foliage” part. As you can see from the photo, all but the smallest of beans sinks below. These dwarf bean plants can be sown direct, approximately 1-2 inches deep after the last frost or about three week before indoors and then transplanted. Keep moist but not wet until shoots emerge. They don’t need support.

Eating – These are probably not the best flavoured bean in the world but look distinctive, remain string less even when quite large. Pick young though as the pods fill quickly. The beans will loose their nearly all their cooking so steam and serve al dente for best texture and colour.

Plant health and yield – The plants are strong and quite quick to mature. Each plant will provide several meals. If you don’t want to freeze your beans it is wise to stagger your sowing by a couple of weeks to prevent a glut as the beans do mature at roughly the same time. Beans may re flower after harvesting to a lesser extent.

Growing

French beans are not hardy so in the UK they cannot be planted out until the last frosts which is usually around the end of May or early July. They will sulk if planted out too soon and subject to cold and wet weather.

In mid to late May, using root trainers or 3 inch pots, sow two beans per module, 5cm deep. Water, cover and leave to germinate in a warm sunny spot. The beans will start to show themselves after a few days. When all the beans have germinated you can start to harden off by taking outside and putting in a sheltered spot during the day and returning indoors overnight for a week, finally leaving outside for a couple of days until ready to plant out. Repeat every three weeks for dwarf beans to get successional crops. You may only need two sowings for climbing beans.

Beans need to be planted in a sheltered, sunny spot in rich but well drained soil. Adding plenty of rotted manure or compost before planting and mulching after planting will benefit them enormously. Climbing beans will need wigwams, trellis or canes to grow up. Plant 10 cm apart, water well. Continue to water until they are established but then only during dry spells. Once the beans arrive (late June or July) you will need to pick at least every other day to keep them flowering for as long as possible. Beans should be shiny and the beans not showing in the pod for optimum tenderness. Dwarf beans will often give you a second crop later in the season.