Dwarf Beans Phaseolus vulgaris

These stout, upright bean plants need no support and they grow to maturity faster than runner beans which means they are the business for a busy productive garden of almost any size where harvest is eagerly awaited.. Each individual plant produces close to a month-long harvest of table-ready beans in next to no time. From seed to ripened pod in as little as 7 weeks, dwarf beans are easy and very economical to grow. Plants generally grow just lower than knee height.

Companions Celery, sweet corn, cucumber, melon, cabbage, broccoli, kale.

Quantity 3 plants per person.

THE GROWING LIFECYCLE



Dwarf Beans

  • Fertile sun
  • Easy to grow from seed
  • Fast and productive
  • Needs no support
  • Repeat sow in batches


Our Top 5 Varieties

Purple Tee Pee Dwarf An heirloom variety with striking dark purple slender pods that crowd plants within 8 weeks of sowing. Plants produce for some time if picked regularly. Pods fade to green on cooking.

Berrgold Improved Dwarf Open pollinated variety with golden yellow, delicious pods. Heavy cropping upright plants good for late harvest into autumn as they tolerate some cold.

Top Crop Heritage variety with stringless green pods that are eaten whole. Heavy cropping plants.

Soybeans Soybeans with short hairy pods are eaten boiled or steamed in the pod as ‘edamame’. Choose an open-pollinated variety so you can save seed – that’s if you don’t eat them all.

Borlotti Fire Tongue Dwarf Heirloom variety. Red-flecked pods that can be eaten whole when young or allowed to mature so the beans can be shelled and cooked fresh or dried.

Getting started

When

Warmer areas – sow from August in pots and plant out from September under cloches until it warms up in October.
Cooler areas – sow in September and plant out from late October as long as frosts have passed.
Finish sowing by March.

Where

Sun needs to reach your planting position for at least 3 to 4 hours per day when it’s out. You can plant in rows or blocks or even pop individual plants into gaps and small spaces in beds as well as containers. Seeing as they grow to just under knee height, dwarf beans are more likely to withstand a bit of wind than their climbing cousins - so a better choice for coastal and hillside gardens where feisty summer breezes are a common feature.

Soil

A well dug, free draining soil that holds plenty of rotted horse manure or garden compost is ideal – you can use sheep pellets if you have them and worm or chook compost are also very suitable. Soil should feel a touch moist and be more like a chocolate brownie or a day-old chocolate cake in texture than a sandpit.

SOW & PLANT

SOW

You can sow dwarf beans into pots and punnets in early spring so they are ready for the garden as soon as temperatures warm up and all threat of frosts in your area has passed. If frosts are not a threat then you can sow straight into your beds in early spring.

Before you sow, soak your bean seeds in water overnight to encourage good germination.

In pots or punnets: Plant two seeds per punnet or in pairs in larger pots or trays.(when the seeds sprout select the strongest grower and pinch out the other one at ground level.). Push your seeds into compost to about half a thumb’s depth. When sowing in trays or pots space your pairs of beans about a finger-length apart. Water well and then place somewhere warm and sunny – maybe a windowsill, cold frame or in a green house. Your seedlings are ready for planting when the first set of heart-shaped, true leaves have followed on from the fattish, rounded ‘cotyledon’ leaves.

PLANT

Whether planting in rows, blocks or individually, you should allow a spacing of about one or two full hand’s length between plants. You might want to widen space between rows or allow a larger gap in the middle of a block planting to allow for access when it comes to harvest. Push your seedlings into a small hole and back fill before gently firming the surrounding soil to ensure good contact between soil and roots. Water well and mulch around your plants to retain moisture and deter weeds. You put a plastic juice bottle cloche over young seedlings for warmth and protection.

Once it is warm enough to plant seedlings you can also sow seeds straight into the ground at similar spacings – just remember to soak them overnight and push them about half a thumb’s depth beneath the soil. Maybe mark their position so you know where to avoid over-planting with anything else you are currently excited about planting

MAINTAIN

Maintain constant soil moisture throughout the growth and fruiting period and watch out for slugs and snails that can damage young seedlings.
Green and black Shield bugs may turn up in numbers and start eating holes in beans. These can be removed by hand in the cool of the morning before they become too agile. Alternatively treat with Chilli spray.
Aphids may also come calling – in which case treat any visible infestations with Neem oil, Garlic oil spray or Tomato leaf spray.
I give my beans a boost with diluted worm juice every two weeks just to keep them happy. If making stinky concoctions is not your bag then you can use a ready-made liquid feed such as liquid seaweed.

HARVEST OR PICK

As with other beans, it is all in the picking once your first bean pods show. Bush beans should be picked when still resembling slender cylindrical green tubes (or purple, or golden depending on variety) – generally about the length of your longest finger. If you wait till they start to lump up around the developing beans inside the pods then they’ll make for a scaly, stringy mouthful when it comes to eating them. Once you start picking, move through your plants systematically taking the ripened beans so that more will follow.

Once you have started harvesting, remember to keep an eye on your developing plants too so that your summer bean cycle will continue to be bountiful. Sow further plants every 3 to 4 weeks right up to mid summer.