Sowing sweetcorn and French beans

We typically make two sowings of French beans and sweetcorn, although we are making three of the latter this year. The first batch of French beans will be grown under cover for an early crop. For this purpose a dwarf bean is ideal. We are growing Beurre de Rocquencourt, a very nice yellow podded bean. Dwarf beans crop over a shorter span, but should bear sooner than a climbing bean. Similarly, our first sowing of sweetcorn will be grown on under cover. For this, we are using a hybrid corn – one of the few hybrids we grow. In previous years we have grown Lark, which has always done well for us. This year, just for a change, we are trying Swift. The hybrid corn tends to be shorter in stature and quicker to crop, so ideal for the first sowing. This first sowing was made in April.

One month later, in mid May, and we are sowing our second batch. This is probably a few weeks later than normal, but the cold weather earlier in the year has put us a bit behind. For the second batch of sweetcorn we return to our preferred open pollinated varieties, perhaps the most well know of which is Golden Bantam. We have had good results with this one in the past. We are also planning to sow Stowell’s Evergreen, a new one for us, towards the end of May. This should crop later than Golden Bantam but to reduce the chances of cross pollination as well as helping to spread the harvest I want to wait a little before sowing.

Our second batch of French beans would ideally be of the climbing sort, but when selecting old varieties sometimes we end up with more dwarf beans so this year we have a mixture. We prefer climbing beans for the main crop as they bear over a long period and ultimately produce a larger harvest. I am sowing three climbing beans: Meraviglia di Venezia, a delicious yellow wax bean, definitely one of my favourites; the old purple podded bean; and Blue Lake, a fairly typical but good white seeded green bean. The dwarf sorts are both old varieties: an heirloom borlotto bean, Saluggia; and Chevrier, the classic Flageolet Vert.

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