There are few awards that hold such high esteem in the gardening world as the RHS Award of Garden merit. Vegetables or plants with these awards should be the best of the best in terms of yield, plant health and in later awards taste.
Unfortunately for me my sowing of the dwarf French bean Sprite have been disappointing. The yield is average, plants suffered from slug damage and the beans did not always grow straight like promised. All this however could be forgiven if they had good flavour…..unfortunately this is also only mediocre and nothing compared to Emperor of Russia or even purple teepee which I had been a bit sniffy about earlier.
In the kitchen
Top and tail and lightly steam for 5-7 minutes until tender or boil for under 5 minutes. You could also char on a BBq or grill for a few minutes. For any of these options serve dressed in a little melted butter or sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. They also make a useful addition once cooked and cooled to salads and are often added to a tuna Nicoise.
Yield and plant health
The leaves of sprite had a small amount of slug damage which is unusual but other than that has not suffered from any disease or major pest problems.
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, 3cm 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.
French Bean – Golden Teepee (dwarf)