Pinch out climbing beans as soon as they reach the tops of their supports. Runner beans, French beans and shelling beans are super-productive in the veg garden and are cropping heavily right now, but they will insist on carrying on growing upwards once they reach the tops of their canes. This not only takes the beans well out of your reach – it also means the plant is concentrating more on producing lots of green growth rather than beans you can eat.
Taking care of your climbing beans
Reach up to the top of the supports and snip away any top growth that isn’t supported by the canes. Make sure you cut them cleanly and there are no ragged ends that might introduce disease – you’ll find good quality razor-sharp secateurs in the tools section at the garden centre which will make the job straightforward.
Removing the top shoots like this encourages the plant to produce side shoots instead, which go on to flower in their own right and produce beans at a height you can pick - increasing your harvest and keeping the plant tidier, too.
If you missed out on sowing beans this year, there’s still time to squeeze an extra crop from the veg patch if you pop down to the garden centre here in Poynings this week and pick up our ready-grown dwarf bean plants.
These sturdy little plants reach only 60-90cm tall before they start producing a harvest for you to pick, so you don’t even need a veg garden as they’re perfect for containers. Plant in rich compost as soon as you get them home, keep well watered and add a liquid feed to the watering can once a week as soon as you see flowers appear (tomato fertiliser is ideal as it promotes fruiting). You should be picking fresh, home-grown beans right up till the first frosts.