Tuesday 22 May 2018

Beans no longer rotating

I've just planted out my climbing beans: 'Scarlet Emperor' runner beans; 'Blue Lake' French climbing beans; climbing borlotti beans. Last year we had a bit of a disaster because at the height of summer, when the beans were at full sail, a strong wind blew the whole structure over and our bean crop was diminished as a result. It also looked rather unsightly but I had to bear with it until the whole lot could be cleared away at the end of the summer. 

Part of the problem is that our light sandy soil does not provide robust enough anchorage for the bean poles even though they are inserted quite deeply into the soil. What was called for was a much stronger structure but this would be irksome to have to erect and dismantle each year.

Then I remembered Gordon. When I first took on an allotment many years ago, Gordon had two full sized plots adjoining my half plot. They were immaculately maintained and every bit of ground was put to use. He was a very skilled vegetable grower. Most of his input was carried out in short stints after work. He was a painter and decorator and he would cycle to the plot after work and then go home for his tea carrying away more freshly picked produce. Gordon grew his beans up a metal and steel cable framework which was permanently sited in one of his plots. He grew his runner beans seemingly successfully in the same spot year after year.

The idea of crop rotation is to avoid the build up of pests and diseases associated with one particular plant or plant group. But the reality is that beans are not especially prone to systemic diseases so this problem as far as they are concerned is much less of a risk. Coupled with this, common practice is to trench the planting area to incorporate bulky organic matter so as to improve water retention for this thirsty crop. In the process the soil is being ‘freshened’ up each year. Anyway, I’ve convinced myself it’s okay to permanently site my climbing beans and so justify the erection of a strong framework that will resist the impact of summer storms.

Here is the new bean set up.

Four 3" square x 8' fence posts sunk 2' deep to span a 20'
row. Cross beams or struts added top and bottom with bean
poles fixed to these. 

I would like to add my best wishes to Sue at The Cottage at the End of the Lane. I'm sure Colin new a thing or two about growing beans.


  1. I did the growing but he stood on a step ladder to hammer the metal poles in the ground at each end of the bed each year with me standing underneath holding them and hoping he didn't miss! I've just discovered I have no runner bean seeds - bet the shops have sold out too. Might have to cheat and buy some plants somewhere

    1. A modest ‘cheat’ this year is acceptable under the circumstances I think!

  2. Great bean frame. Beans are legumes and add nitrogen to the soil. Suppose it's one vegetable that doesn't need rotation. You could always move the soil rather than the bean frame if you get any problems?