having problems with beans. Some varieties do well, but others are
dismal failures. I've tried several times, but Barlotto Fire Tongue
has failed to even germinate. The climbing yard-long beans are really
slow to grow. They only reached 30cm high, by which time Scarlet
Runners and King of the Blues had reached the top of a six foot
high fence and produced lots of beans. The seed was bought last
year. What am I doing wrong?
SIMPLE answer is that Scarlet Runner is one of the easiest beans
to grow well and usually gives good yields with a minimum of fuss.
Other varieties can be variable depending on your conditions. Germination
failure can be the result of poor seed being sold, but could also
be poor conditions causing the fleshy seeds to rot. And this may
affect some varieties more than others.
Ideally, beans need
warmish soil (above 15°C) for good germination - if the soil is
too cold and wet, they can rot off. Don't be tempted to soak them
in water overnight before sowing as this can do more harm than good.
Some bean seed comes ready-coated with a fungicide to prevent rot
during germination - the label should mention this. If not, you
could try dusting the seed with a copper fungicide or Super Sulphur,
or watering a fungicide, like Thiram, into the soil around the seeds
immediately after sowing. Don't plant too deeply - no more than
3cm below the surface.
Some gardeners find they
have best success by starting bean seeds off in pots of free-draining
mix on a window sill or other well-lit spot and planting out once
they have reached the three or four-leaf stage.
The climbing yard-long
beans are a more tropical plant and so need warmer conditions than
the others to thrive, with soil temperatures above 20°C. Try planting
them against a sunny wall to help maintain warmer night temperatures.
Gardener, Issue 194, 2005, Page 18
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.