Growing Climbing Beans

Latest Update 9th September 2016. 

Climbing Beans 
  • I grow climbing beans with a row on each side of a climbing frame.  With 2 climbing frames, that's 4 rows all together.  Productivity has been excellent.
  • Most of the beans are preserved in a chest freezer, and will last my wife and I about a year.
  • Melbourne's hot dry summers are ideal for growing climbing beans, especially when grown in rich and moist organic soil.  
  • The raised bed in the picture is a Garden Ecobed with a built-in water tank.  The water wicks up into the soil continuously and maintains that essential moisture.
  • Climbing beans are an excellent source of dietary fibre, folate and vitamin B.  They are rich in trace elements including magnesium, potassium and manganese.
  • They seem to find there way into most of our meals at harvest time.  Simply delicious.  
Details. 
  • Binomial name:                                        Phaseolus vulgaris
  • Family group:                                           Fabaceae.
  • Variety:                                                    Blue Lake Climbing.
  • Crop rotation group:                                  Legumes.
  • Garden bed type:                                      Garden Ecobed.
  • Recommended soil pH:                             6.0 - 7.5.
  • Minimum sun per day:                              8 hours.
  • Plant spacings (centres x rows):                200 x 200 mm.
  • Weeks to harvest:                                     9 - 11 weeks.
  • Good companion:                                     Beetroot. potato.
  • Climate:                                                   Warm temperate.
  • Geography:                                              Southern hemisphere. 
Nutrition.
  • This food is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. 
  • It is a good source of protein, thiamin, magnesium, potassium and manganese, and a very good source of dietary fibre and folate.
  • More from nutrition data.self.com.
Growing Conditions: 
  • Climbing beans need full sun and grow best in warm to hot conditions.  
  • They are frost tender.
  • They need well structured rich organic soil which must be kept moist at all times.
Soil Preparation.
  • Clear a space for climbing beans in October.  Add a 60mm layer of home made compost and cover with 50mm of fresh straw mulch.
  • Leave the bed for 4 weeks to build up worm and microbial activity.  Remove the mulch just before planting the crop.  
Growing Instructions. 
  • Provide a frame to support the beans.
  • Sow 2 rows of climbing beans in November, one row on each side of the climbing frame and 200mm apart.  Using a dibber (or your finger), make 30mm deep holes 200mm apart along each row, and drop the seeds in.  Back fill the holes and water well (once only) with dilute seaweed extract (suppliers dilution rate).
  • Use wire netting laid on the ground where the beans have been sown and peg it down.  It protects the young seedlings from worm seeking birds.  The beans will grow through the netting and it can be left there until harvest.
  • Apply a foliar spray of aerated compost tea every 4 weeks with all the other edible plants.
Harvesting and storage
  • Harvest the beans from February.
  • Pick them as soon as they fill their pods. 
  • Picking beans early encourages more flower and pod formation.  Use a pair of scissors to snip the pods off the vine.  If you try to pull them off you can cause damage to the plant. 
  • Climbing beans freeze well.  Just blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes, dry and put them in your freezer in a zip bag. 
Organic Pest Control.
  • Slugs and snails.
    • Self adhesive copper tape bonded around the base of Ecobeds protects plants against slugs and snails.
    • If these molluscs get into your Ecobed as eggs laid in your compost, kill them with organically acceptable iron based snail pellets.  You should only need to use a small number of pellets.
  • Greenhouse whitefly.
    • Aerated compost tea helps plants resist whitefly damage.
    • If they manage to get established despite the tea, control them by spraying your crop thoroughly with organic horticultural oil (Eco-oil in Australia) as early in the whitefly's life cycle as possible.
    • Spray again in a few days to ensure second generation whitefly do not survive.
  • Powdery mildew.  
    • A monthly foliar spray of aerated compost tea is a useful deterrent against powdery mildew.
    • If an infestation occurs, spray with an organic horticultural fungicide such as Eco-fungicide.
  • General:
    • Regular applications of aerated compost tea boost the natural defences of plants by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  They defend the plant against airborne pests and diseases.
    • Similarly, proper soil preparation including regular applications of homemade compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes, which defend the plants roots against plant pathogens.