Bean, French (climbing) – Cobra



Bean, French (climbing) – Cobra

Cobra produces a huge yield of delicious stringless beans over a long period.  This variety is very hard to match.  It is suitable for indoor cropping as well as outdoors in sheltered gardens.

  • Sow 5 seeds into 9cm pots in mid May and plant out about 4 weeks later around each bamboo cane
  • Sow directly into the ground (4cm deep) roughly 5 seeds next to each cane.

Approx. seed count: 30

Latin name:

Phaseolus vulgaris



Related to:

Runner beans, broad beans, peas, clovers.


Climbing French beans – Cobra 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.


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.

Plant care

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.

Bean, French (climbing) – Cobra

For more information have a look at the Book: Vegetables for the Irish Garden