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Climbing green beans - very sad plants


I would be grateful for any advice you knowledgeable lot have.  This is the second year I’ve tried growing green beans, and both years it just doesn’t seem to have worked, and hasn’t worked in the same way. Both years I have sown straight into the ground in about early May.  I have a fairly good germination rate and growth wise things start well but then it starts to go wrong. As you can see from the photo, there is very sparse leaf growth and the leaves, as they did last year as well, have started yellowing from the bottom up. Last year by August there were hardly any green leaves left and I think from 8 plants we harvested over the whole season about 80g of beans, a pathetic 4 or 5 at a time.  The beans this year are in the same plot but orientated 90° from last year.  The plot was dug out two years ago and loads of compost was mixed in.  I have been watering the beans once or twice a week and feeding them liquid seaweed once a week since flowers appeared. Do any of you know what’s going wrong, please, and what I can do to improve things?  It’s not just annoying as we eat loads of beans, particularly in summer, but it’s also remarkably upsetting when plants fail, isn’t it?  I still can’t talk about losing all 12 tomato plants to blight last year with getting a lump in my throat.  


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,102
    edited July 2022
    I would say they're incredibly thirsty.  

    Before planting our beans we dug a trench, lined it with newspaper, cardboard etc and half-filled it with half-made compost (veg peelings, grass mowings etc) filled it with water then back filled with garden soil ... then we planted the beans.  

    After planting and while they were small we wateredthem several times a week, but now the weather is warm and they're flowering we're watering almost every day ... that means putting a sprinkler between the two rows and running it for at least 20 minutes.  

    Apart from a sprinkling of general fertiliser at planting time, I've not fed them yet but may give them some tomato feed in a couple of weeks. 

    We've been picking beans for a few days now, and, if previous years are anything to go by, I expect to be picking right into September.

    Water, water, water ............

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Wow, look at your beautiful, healthy plants!  Ok, will dramatically up the watering regime.  Thank you. 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,102
    Good luck ... let us know how you get on 🤞

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • EustaceEustace Posts: 2,002
    Nice dense green growth on your beans @Dovefromabove.
    @corianderwhish I also think misting the flowers helps with pollination and forming of beans.
    Oxford. The City of Dreaming Spires.
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils (roses). Taking a bit of liberty with Wordsworth :)

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,102
    Hopefully we'll be eating beans several times a week for the next couple of months, and putting plenty in the freezer too ... just like last year.  

    We're growing Moonlight again, which are self-pollinating as they have some French Bean genes, so cope well with the vagaries of our weather if the pollinating insects are sometimes not about, like last year.  

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Just for clarity, in case it matters, what I called green climbing beans are what I have always known as French beans, but nobody else seems to call them that these days - though I see you do, Dovefromabove. The slim, cylindrical beans are the ones I’m talking about. I assume growing them isn’t much different from how you grow rubber beans? 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,102
    edited July 2022
    I think 'climbing beans' refers to beans that climb, whether they be the round pod beans that I call French Beans, traditional UK runner beans, or the various types Americans call Pole beans, climbing Borlotti beans (which I also grow some years) etc etc .

    Plus I'm probably of an age when beans were either Runner Beans or French Beans ... and that was all there was ... apart from Broad Beans, which are of course a different thing entirely.  ;)

    I find Climbing French beans are slightly hardier than ordinary Runner beans so they're happier in the variable UK climate than runner beans, and have the advantage of being self pollinating (which is why I now grow the hybrid runner x french Moonlight) , but basically their care is much the same.  

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,460
    As Dove has said above, the key is in the preparation, i.e. 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail!'.  For us, I prefer a pit, rather than a row, but the principle's the same.  From now on, I'll be saving all the kitchen waste in a large plastic drum, plus any other biodegradable material, which will form the sump of nutrition for next year's crop.  It will always be second best, trying to recover from a poor start.  Pic attached.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,102
    We grew ours in a pit last year and for a few years previously … it works well  … however this year we decided to grow more so a trench was the answer. 

    Interestingly enough several of last years plants overwintered and have grown again amongst the lettuces. However my ‘this year’s plants’ are well ahead of them. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    To add to the complication of what beans are called, when I was growing up (in Derbyshire) runner beans were called kidney beans, and the short round ones were called French beans but not as popular as the former. A lot of years later the name runner beans took over from kidney, a nicer name presumably. We can now buy climbing French (green) bean seeds of course. 
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
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