Bean, Climbing French – Blauhilde
This is a round, blue-skinned bean which turns green during cooking. Bean, Climbing French – Blauhilde is a vigorous and disease-resistant plant. An old variety which originates from South Germany. It is suitable for indoor cropping as well as outdoors in sheltered gardens.
1. Sow 5 seeds into 9cm pots in mid May and plant out about 4 weeks later around each bamboo cane.
2. Sow directly into the ground (4cm deep) roughly 5 seeds next to each cane.
Approx. seed count: 30sds
Runner beans, broad beans, peas, clovers.
Climbing French beans – Blauhilde are really a fantastic crop for a polytunnel or greenhouse. It is quite amazing how many beans you get from a small space indoors. Outdoors they only perform well in the warmer parts of the country or in more sheltered gardens. A tunnel is the ideal solution.
Soil and site
French beans require a very sunny and sheltered site. The soil should be fertile, moisture-retentive and free-draining. The soil pH can be slightly acidic ranging from 5.8-7.
As with any other tall crops be careful what you plant next to them as they will cause a lot of shade for plants growing behind them on the north side.
Vegetables such as lettuce, celery, dill and coriander may even benefit from some shade in mid summer whereas tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and basil will not crop well if there is any shade.
Seeds can either be sown in pots for planting out later or sown directly into the ground. Two strategic sowings can produce beans from June until November.
Sow 5 seeds into 9cm pots in the fourth week of March and place the pots on a heating bench or south-facing windowsill. The sowing depth is 5cm. In late April or early May plant each pot containing the five plants next to each cane of a climbing frame or preferably next to a string which is attached to an overhead wire and placed into the planting hole beneath the plants.
The second sowing should be made in mid June for planting about 4 weeks later.
A single row in the centre of the bed with strings 30cm apart in the row and 4-5 plants per station is ideal. The space on the edges of the beds can be used for quick maturing vegetables such as lettuce or annual spinach.
Regular watering is essential for good plant development and yield. Watering should not be done from above as it may encourage fungal growth. The ideal time to water is in the morning so that there is less condensation on the plastic or glass at night.
Climbing French beans are allowed to climb up a string that is attached onto the overhead support wire. When the beans have reached the top of the climbing support, the growing tip should be nipped out.
The beans are ready from June onwards until November. Once they crop they should be thoroughly picked at least once or twice a week. You should harvest the beans while they are still tender before the seeds begin to swell in the pods. The more they are picked, the more they will produce. Therefore, it is important to remove all the beans that have been overlooked during the previous harvest.
If the beans are left longer on the plants the majority of them will become tough and possibly stringy and the plants may stop flowering. Thus the yield will be dramatically reduced. So it is well worth letting your friends clear the crop when you are on holidays. Modern varieties are bred to be less stringy or completely stringless. I would recommend growing these varieties as it could be off-putting biting into a stringy bean.
As soon as the beans from the second sowing are starting to crop you could clear the first batch. Otherwise pests and diseases may spread onto the new crop.
For more information have a look at the Book: Vegetables for the Irish Garden