Growing runner and French beans


I've had a shot at growing French beans and runner beans this year, but with no luck. I also planted carrots and spring onions but they all failed. Fortunately the onions, shallots and potatoes were my saving grace.

We've had a lot of rain, and then hot sun, then rain again, which has left the ground moist under the soil but very hard and cracked on the surface. As a result the little seedlings just couldn't get going and push through.

Next season I'm strongly considering starting everything off in trays in a cold frame or greenhouse, rather than planting seed. Does anyone else have similar experiences and any tips for what I should or shouldn't be doing here?

Thanks for any advice.


It has been a very odd growing year as Brian as said, here in the south west I have tons of plums, no apples, the pears on next doors tree look very sparce. some peaches and the nectarines are as good as last year. The cherries were bitter on one tree, never came to anything on another.

Envious, you're not that far north of us but plums, including mirabelles, failing down here is surprising. I irrigated and fed the strawberries but something stopped them really fruiting as they have before. The artichokes next to them have struggled as well.

The sloes, which are after all the ancestor of most European plums, are thriving and plentiful, already blue and getting soft with bloom on them, they were dry other years, but I never collected those before October or November in the UK. Better buy some gin soon before this year ruins everything...

Brian, we had a fantastic crop of strawberries in June but that was it, nothing more since then. Our cherry trees were covered in spring blossom, but no fruit appeared. Fortunately the peaches, pears, mirabels and plums are looking good. But that's not a result of my efforts I must admit - just nature doing its thing.

Hmmm, even up there! Our fruit began to set, then dried up... New one on me.

I had a large allotment in Cambridgeshire where weather can be 'variable' for nearly 20 years. I depended on mulching to protect from cold and even from heavy rain that uproots young veg. It takes several years to get a good mulch layer into the ground and that needs help from a farmer with large amounts of ess-aitch-eye-tee for manuring, that rests for a year before use, then over the years alternate layers of mulch and manure need rotavating into a nice topsoil that is not too rich for veg that bolts or gets soggy and drowns seed. Mulch is then important for preventing swamping which makes the soil claggy, so there is indeed never too much of the stuff.

We're in Lower Normandy, also had the disaster of the cherry/apple blossom blowing away before the fruit set, and those cherries which did survive, the birds of my wife's wretched pooch scoffed. Zero apples, unlike the 2 composters' full the previous owners ditched last year (lovely compost for me tatties and beans, mind!!) I'm relatively inexperienced with mulching, but I think next season, as it gets washed or blown away, it'll have to be topped up.... might have to push the dog through the wood chipper, though.......

Ah yes Jem. We mulch like mad, save straw and leaves that I put through the shredder in the spring, wood chippings from the delivery and some of the dust and shavings from cutting. The problem was that weeks and weeks of quite heavy rain in SW France washed mulch away, into the ground and was largely wasted. Our tomatoes lost muck which was replaced by mulch and the tomatoes have been lamentable as well. We have a well that never dries up and even irrigation helped little. It is probably dependent on where people are this year and how the extremes of climate affect what grows.

Phil, this has been a disastrous year. No beans, peas or most other things made it. I have leeks and chard and nothing else. Fruit, ha! Firstly we had summer leaves on trees until February then the hard winter hit. After that we had a nice bit of spring and I rejoiced at the amount of blossom, licking lips with pleasure. Three large cherry trees - not one cherry, plums should be ripening on all eight trees now, I can count them on my fingers on one tree only, nothing on the others. No peaches, quinces and almost no apples. Strawberries looked good but came to nothing much, slugs go what was good. Raspberries were thin, blueberries didn't happen, currants thin, gooseberries similar, rhubarb lamentable (one crumble). Asparagus was good considering I forgot to muck them over. Spuds, not so good. Carrots, weedy and sprouting flowers when less than little finger size. Salads bolted.

We even thought the figs would not make it but that looks like a bumper crop and I am mounting an armed guard on the six pumpkins (Last year multiply that by 10!). Oh yes, the cornichons were about right but the big one are failing to make proper courgettes, going nasty and soggy. That is only what I can remember.

Not a good gardening summer methinks!


Mulching is the thing - it keeps the surface from turning into brick, saves on watering, and has the added benefit of cutting down on those naughty weeds..... (although, have to say my beans are going ballistic, as they're in a virgin plot - lots of flowers, and the first fruits of my labours were sweet and crunchy, eaten raw as soon as picked)