This colourful bean is a multi-purpose Italian speciality. Use the fresh young pods as flageolet beans (semi-mature pods with succulent seeds), or allow them to mature and ripen for use as haricot beans. The spectacular flattish pods of Climbing Bean' Firetongue' are heavily splashed with reddish streaks which disappear on cooking. A particularly eye catching bean that makes an attractive and productive addition to the vegetable plot. Height: 180cm (70”). Spread: 30cm (12”).
Companion planting: Try growing French beans with Nasturtiums to draw aphids away from your crop.
Sow climbing bean seeds indoors from mid April for transplanting later on, or direct sow outdoors from late May to July.
Indoors, sow bean seeds at a depth of 2cm (1") in 7.5cm (3") pots or trays of free-draining, seed sowing compost. Place in a propagator or seal container inside a plastic bag at a temperature of 12-25C (54-77F) until germination, which takes 7-10 days. Do not exclude light as this helps germination. Once germinated, grow on in cooler conditions until all risk of frost has passed and the climbing bean plants are large enough to be transplanted. Gradually acclimatise them to outdoor conditions over 7 - 10 days before planting French beans outdoors in rich fertile, well drained soil in full sun with protection from strong winds.
Alternatively direct sow French beans outdoors when the soil as warmed. Sow 2 bean seeds per station at a depth of 5cm (2") and a distance of 23cm (9") apart. Plant Climbing beans in rows that are 60cm (24") apart, or where space is limited, try growing climbing beans onto a wigwam structure. Climbing beans require support from garden canes, strings or netting which should be put in place at the time of planting.
When growing beans, hoe between plants often and water regularly. Provide a compost mulch around the base of bean plants to combat dry periods. For the best crops harvest beans regularly while the pods are still young.
Culinary note: Suitable for freezing. Caution: Cook climbing beans before eating to avoid discomfort.
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