Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Load Of Old Has Beans......

I have been increasingly perplexed for the past few weeks about the comparative lack of runner beans on Plot 14 this year.

My Red Flame plants are lush and vigorous, and are producing plenty of bloom but precious few results. They started the season in full swing, but productivity has tailed off dramatically in the last month - considerably earlier than usual. At first I even thought "bean-nappers" might be beating me to it, but this was entirely unsubstantiated of course, not to mention a little unfair on my fellow plot holders.

I then reasoned that since the hosepipes have been out of action due to the burst pipe, I have not been misting them with water as I have always done previously (having learned to do this at my fathers knee almost) just irrigating them from below as usual. "Peter the Plot Boss" tells me however that in his opinion this is a red herrring, and makes no difference. I am unsure. If it is actually an old wives tale, it's a mighty common one.

He laid the blame fairly and squarely on the humble bumbles...or rather the lack of them. Apparently the long very hot dry spell has hampered their reproductivity, and their work ethic. Whilst I can't say that I blame them, it would nonetheless explain the problem. A quick walk round the site reveals that a lot of other healthy looking bean rows, also seem pretty barren, so maybe this is indeed it..... And Peter usually knows a thing or too.

What do other allotmenteers and gardners think?

How are your runners this year compared to last year?.....Leave a comment and let me know.


Blogger Rebsie Fairholm said...

Mmm ... interesting.

I don't have any better ideas or theories but one thing I can tell you: my runner beans are crap.

Until I read your post I had assumed it was because I'm growing mine next to a big hedge which might be restricting the light and moisture. But maybe it's just a crap year for runner beans.

Come to think of it I haven't seen a single bee go near the plants, so maybe that is the problem.

I have three lots of climbing French beans, which are closely related to runners but much better at self-pollinating, and they're all podding like the clappers.

I must go and stick some binoculars through the fence and see if the old geezer next door has got any decent runners ...

5:29 pm  
Blogger Greenmantle said...

I can concur on the French Bean front. I have been growing "Blue Lake" right next door to the runners, and they have been tremendous.... If I had wanted to make a life size replica of the Cutty Sark, I certainly wouldn't have needed any matchsticks!

I grow a Morning Glory plant at each end of the row as they are supposed to attract bees better in the ultra-violet spectrum that insects see in. Trouble is, they are just about to flower, now the beans are nearly finished. Same thing happened last year. I just can't get the timing right!

6:10 pm  
Blogger Peggy said...

I had a big problem with the flowers dropping off when the weather was dry. This was leaving me bean free. In the past few weeks, now that we've had a bit more rain, I can't move for runner beans!

5:35 am  
Blogger mrsnesbitt said...

Another blog of inspiration!

I want to grow beans next year, first time.....

broad beans......any tips?


3:59 pm  
Anonymous Leonie said...

Well I've had mixed success with my beans this year. The runners are not doing well, in fact they look pretty miserable. The blue lake beans have done okay but not as well as last year. The cherokee beans given to me by allotment lady have done tremendously well. But the borlotti is what has me puzzled, some have done well and already have pods drying on the plants, but others planted in the same row right next to the good ones and planted at the same time have lots of flowers and no a bean in sight! It's not a result of no bumble bees because there are lots at my plot, the flowers planted at the base of the beans are buzzing with bumbles. Very strange and I can't think why.

ps, just wanted to say nice blog, I found it through allotment lady :-)

8:15 pm  
Blogger Greenmantle said...

Thanks MrsNesbitt...

I'm not exactly the best person to ask about Broad beans...all mine got eaten by mice last year. A second sowing that I planted in pots, worked much better, and I can recommend this as safer method if you have room for them all...Otherwise use the Aqua Dulce variety and stick the beans in the ground in early November for an early crop in June( Mice and snow allowing) A second sowing in May will then be ready in July.
The potted & planted out option should be sown under glass in Feb, an transplanted out as soon as they are big & strong enough.

9:00 am  
Blogger Greenmantle said...

Thanks Leonie...

Have no light to cast on your borlotti problem I'm afraid.

But my runners have suddenly sprung to life again

9:02 am  
Anonymous john curtin said...

I can't comment on runner beans as I haven't grown any this year but my climbing french beans - blauhide and neckar gold have cropped poorly - lack of water I think as I've seen tons of pollinating insects, though not many bees.

The dwarf beans on the other hand are going like the clappers.

10:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my first year for a vegetable plot. My broad beans (Jubilee Hysor, planted at end of April)were pathetic; quite strong plants, quite a few flowers, no black fly but no pods either! However the leaves curled rather strangely, especially at the top of the plants.
Also my climbing French Beans (Cobra) did well at first and are still producing, but a lot of them seem to be "hollow" and therefore not good eating. It was a new plot which we cut out of the lawn, I did lime the soil and dig in lots of well rotted stable manure but the soil is acid. Any ideas anyone as the books aren't helping me!

2:02 pm  
Blogger Greenmantle said...

Dear Anonymous of the difficult beans...

I'd love to have a "off pat" answer for you but I haven' what follows are in the nature of general guesses, and not gospel OK?

1. Broad bean leaves tend to curl - dunno why, they just do. It varies according to the variety, but this should not normally affect the podding.

2. Any decent success I've with beans of any type, has been based on consistent watering.
i.e. don't soak them too often, but don't ever let them dry out eiother. Try to keep it regular and slightly damp.

3. Also bear in mind that everyone grows a variety now and again that turns out to be plain old pants....For climbing beans I prefer "Blue Lake"...there's no stopping those buggers.

4. If your plot was lawn before,How good was it?...Grass is very nitrogen hungry. If your lawn was lush and green, then OK, chances are it has good Nitro levels. If it was a bit sad and scruffy, then it may be low nitro, which can also affect beans. They are well known for fixing nitrogen in their root nodules, but I can't beleive they do this for no good reason. Add muck and lime, but also add nitrogen.

5. Lastly...this was the worst year for veg year this decade. If you read the blogs you'll see that everyone has struggled due to the wrong weather at the wrong time.

If this is your first year, then don't be discouraged. It's normally a lot better than this.....and ig global warming get's a grip...we'll just grow different strains and take advantage of it.



6:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Greenmantle, I will perservere. On the whole, its certainly been worthwhile (I was self sufficient for lettuce, courgettes and french/runner beans for 3 months. The nitrogen issue could be it, as the french/runners have certainly perked up each time I gave them some pelted poultry manure. Rain normally hasn't been a problem (except in May) as we're in Lancashire! But it has been cold.I've been keeping records as to what I've done and what I've picked - not even recovered the cost of one waterbutt but its been fun. Thanks again. Anyone else got any ideas?

5:13 pm  

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