Broad beans and dwarf French beans can be planted within similarly as peas, but let 15cm (6in) between seeds in a row. Dual lines proceed 20cm (8in) aside. Some kinds of broad bean, such as ’Aquadulce Claudia’, may be grown in late autumn with a small defence from frost, in terms of peas in the Event. The foliage does get frosted, drop cold water on the leaves to thaw it ahead of the morning sunlight visits them and causes any injury.
French and runner beans can be killed by frost. Late March is soon enough to sow undercover although mid-April is usually the peak time for sowing in pots undercover for planting out young plants mid to late May. Trail beans and climbing French beans also profit from a good supply of compost. Allow 20cm (8in) between each seed – the placing of these will relate to whatever support structure is used.
A word on mulch
All legumes love water. This is particularly important when the plants are in flower. If water it restricted at this time, fewer flowers will grow pods.
One option is to water daily, but in a dry summer, this might not be possible. The best solution is to cut down on moisture evaporating from the soil. Compost will hold water in the trench, but mulch will do the same job for the surface of the soil.
Use grass clippings, straw, newspaper, cardboard, or anything else that comes to hand. Always make sure the ground is damp before the mulch is put down and use a material that rain can soak through. There are few crops that benefit more from this treatment than peas and beans.
Mulch will also help to keep paths between rows free of weeds.
Peas and beans are at their best when they are young, tender and fresh. It’s amazing that pea pods make their way to the kitchen at all since the contents are so delicious straight from the plant. Keep picking regularly once pods start to swell (or before that point if you’re growing mangetout where the aim is to eat the whole pod!)
If pods start to toughen on runners or French beans, you can shell the beans out of the pods. These will still be tasty enough when cooked, even though the pods are past their best.
If you have a glut, all peas and beans freeze well.
Pointers on pollination
Peas and beans are self-fertile which means that they don’t need an external pollinator. Having said this, peas fare better than beans if there is no helping hard. The hand can be in the form of insects. Or the wind shaking the stems and allowing pollen to do its job.
French beans pollinate before the flower opens, so there is little danger of cross fertilisation. Peas also have closed flowers so tend not to cross with other varieties.
Broad beans can be quite promiscuous and will cross with other broad beans in the garden. In my experience, they crop best if the wind, or bees, have easy access to ensure a good set. This will mean that seed doesn’t breed true, but you will get a better crop.
Runner beans will cross-pollinate with others grown close by, but if you only grow one variety and the neighbouring garden doesn’t grow any, you should get pure seed and a plentiful crop.
First bean flowers may not set if it a too dry. Misting with water can make all the difference.
Useful Link: Supports for Climbing Beans and Peas