Netting protects from deer.

Heirloom bean varieties have fascinating histories. Through many generations,  seeds have been passed down in one tribe or in one family. Some have wonderful names too, such as Sicitalian Black Swamp, Lazy Housewife, Cherokee Trail of Tears, Bird’s Egg, Handsome Johnny, Ruth Bible, Trout, Eye of the Goat, Tiger Bean.

I am mulching around the bean plants with Comfrey leaves. This helps keep the roots moist and provides potash in the soil for next year’s cultivation.

I grow my bean varieties at least 5 metres apart from each other. I often underplant with squashes.

Save your own seeds. Then over the years, your beans will adapt to your soil and situation. Help is here

I came all the way from the west coast of Canada to help on the bean project. I am happy to see that there are now wild beavers in UK after an absence of 400 years. These ecosystem engineers work so hard. They help prevent flooding and improve biodiversity. Welcome friends!

A rare local runner bean BLACK DOULTING which I saved from extinction.

I’m inspecting FAT GOOSE – a most unusual pink bean.

Beans come in many different colours and shapes.

Throughout September and October I gradually collect in my bean seeds. Some pods are pale brown and obviously dry. Some varieties keep their colours so it is important to feel that they are brittle and ready for seed harvesting.

Shelling out seed is my favourite work in the autumn.

I am proud of my large heirloom collection.

Some bean types are only for shelling out, not for eating at the pod stage. DISTRICT NURSE is one of these. Seeds swell rapidly in their pods. Once dry and gathered in, seeds can be stored and used in winter casseroles. (Some must be saved for growing the following year!)

Not all of my bean collection is available every year. Around the end of November bean lovers can check to see here what I have grown out for seed

It has been a busy harvest day – I need a nap!


Golden climbing variety MARVEL OF VENICE has melt-in-the-mouth pods. Very similar is AURIE DE BACAU – also delish!

In spring I choose which bean varieties to grow. Decision time……..

There are many bean recipes available. Beans of all sorts – green or coloured pods, broad beans, shelley types, haricots, runner beans. Adapt recipes to suit yourself!

When to harvest large seed? Over several weeks during the autumn, open up any dry pod. If seeds are coming away very readily, they are mature. Spread out indoors for a further 6 weeks to get the moisture content down. Then store cool and dry.

I am helping at a Royal Horticultural Society show. I like to meet lots of folk, and talk beans! I remind them not to sow seeds too early – mid to end of May is best, not earlier. They can ask me questions, or they can email me later.

My climbing French bean BRITA’S FOOTLONG is more than a foot long!

Bean seeds spread out to dry for a few weeks. They get a daily shake in their tubs. I label all my varieties carefully at every stage of growing, harvesting and storing.

I get given beans to trial. Last year I trialled MELISSA – a climbing French bean with purple pencil-shaped pods. She grows well, and she tastes good!    

No pests here. For soil health / plant health – mixed planting is good. Keeping the ground covered is good. Digging in plant residues at end of season is good.

When I’m displaying on a tradestand I like people to enjoy feeling the bean seeds so I put them in hessian sacks.