Occasionally you come across a variety that you know you will grow year after year. For me I now have the perfect early dwarf french bean in Emperor of Russia and now I have a climbing purple French bean Kew blue. Both are from the Heritage Seed library which is a member organisation that keeps 800 rare landrace or heirloom seeds alive by growing them and distributing to members who receive 6 packets a year for their membership.
In the kitchen
Slightly, long flattened purple beans often with a light green sheen like a mallard duck’s feathers in reverse. The beans stay string free and hold well on the plant before filling out. When cooked they loose most of the purple colour. Lightly steam or simmer for a few minutes to cook.
Yield and plant health
Plentiful long straight beans spaced over several months from mid july, though to late August in abundance then slightly less in September.
Heritage Seed Library (UK members only)
Carmarthan Food (UK)
Adaptive Seeds (USA)
Restoration Seeds (USA)
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)