Legumes

Climbing Beans Bush Beans Broad Beans

 

The most familiar members of the legume family are beans and peas.

They are a most beneficial crop for the soil, fixing nitrogen nodules in the soil,

so if followed by a leaf crop such as lettuce or the members of the brassica family,

these will really flourish in the nitrogen left behind.

Climbing Beans

Climbing beans take a little longer than bush beans to start yielding,

but once they commence they will yield for months.

They well justify the space taken for their growth.

I use a piece of reo-mesh folded into a rough circle for my frame,

supported by a stake which is then tied to the frame to prevent the wind blowing it over.

I fertilise the bed with 250gms of COF per square metre

and plant the bean seeds 3 to 4 cm deep 12-15 cm apart.

 

Climbing beans have aggressive root systems and if they don't run out of underground growing space they will keep producing.

For this reason you need to thin the beans out to 30 cm spacings once they emerge.

Water them well when you plant them, or pre-soak them for 12 hours prior to planting and then avoid watering until they emerge.

I avoid planting my climbing beans until the weather is a little warmer- about the first week in November is fine.

If it is cold they will struggle.

When they emerge you can water them well with comfrey tea.

Giant of Stuttgard or Purple King are particularly reliable varieties that retains their tenderness even when they grow to a large size.

I don't bother freezing climbing beans, I have never found the result to be worthwhile.

If you have to have beans in the winter, try freezing a few bags of bush beans.

They are far easier to prepare for freezing.

Once they emerge from the ground they will run up the wires of your support quite quickly.

They will them start to produce laterals and flowers.

At this stage I give them a sprinkling of sulphate of potash to promote the flowering and overhead water

to assist with the pollination of the flowers.

They may take a while to set the first beans, but once they do you should pick them daily to keep them producing.

When the plant stops producing beans, cut it off about 50-60cm above the ground.

Quite often it will cause the plant to grow vigorously and produce another crop.

At the end of the season, leave a few well formed pods on the plant for seed next year.

Allow these to dry thoroughly and store in a dry plastic jar until next season.

Bush Beans

Bush beans were originally bred for mechanical harvesting and in my opinion,

they do not match the quality of the climbers for flavour.

As the temperature warms in January, you will find that the flavour of the bush beans is inferior to that of the climbers.

For this reason I usually plant my first bush beans about the last week in October.

This produces beans for Christmas, and by mid to late January the climbers will have taken over in terms of yield.

 

Prepare the bed to a fine tilth and apply 250gms of COF per square metre.

Plant seeds about 3-4 cm deep and 20 cm apart to allow proper root development.

I use a plastic lined cloche made from gutter guard with a small bamboo stake to secure it to the ground.

This allows the beans to emerge into a warmer environment and they will grow a little faster.

I remove the cloche once the leaves start spilling out the top.

Beans are particularly sensitive to the wind we get in the spring months and so this cloche is most protective for them.

Broad Beans

Broad Beans are the most amazing producers.

They certainly justify the space they take in the garden and the time they grow.

Seed must over winter to produce bumper crops, but it is possible to sow Broad Beans as late as August.

I always sow mine in May to give them maximum time in the ground.

I have found that each plant reliably produces 4 tillers which are laden with beans.

Whatever time you sow them, the earlier flowers will not set until the temperature warms up.

Your crop will start to set beans in November and produce the first beans by mid-late November.

The pods are quite edible when young and we prefer the tender younger beans to those that have a lighter and harder green coating.

Broad beans are not as demanding of nitrogen and potash as other vegetables

and there will usually be enough fertilser in your soil if you have used COF for previous crops.

They do have a high need for magnesium so I usually sprinkle a little extra dolomite onto the bed before working it in.

Plant the seeds you saved from last year at a depth of 2-4 cm about 30 cm apart for best results.

If you are worried about the viability of your seed, them plant them closer and thin out

When you have harvested the beans by mid December, leave a few plants to set seed properly and save them a few weeks over summer.

They will provide viable seed to sow next autumn.

Don't pull the bean plants out of the ground.

Cut them off and plant a brassica crop of seedlings orn sweet corn beside the bean plant roots.

This will provide the new growing crop of brassicas with a ready supply of nitrogen as legumes fix nitrogen in the soil.

Rotate your Broad Bean crop through your garden and you will have a wonderful source of nitrogen enriched soil

for autumn and winter veggie harvest.

Peas

Peas are an excellent crop for a cool climate region.

Not only do they yield a great crop of nutritious peas for the table,

but they also set nitrogen nodules in the soil and can be well followed by as crop that is demanding of this in its early stages.

Because our soils remain relatively cold until at least the end of August,

I usually pre-sprout a packet of Alderman or Tall Telephone peas (The Lost Seed) inside by immersing them in seaweed solution for a few hours then draining the water off.

Cover the peas so that they remain moist and re water and drain each day until the roots emerge and are 1 cm long.

They can then be successfully transplanted into furrows in a prepared bed at a depth of about 2cm,

preferably with the root tip pointing down.

 

This way the seed uses far less energy in sprouting during cold soil conditions and has enough energy left to weather a cold start.

You will need to support the varieties mentioned with a trellis of reo-mesh or similar to let these tall varieties climb.

If you sow about a metre of bed at a time and wait until the first lot sprouts before sowing the second,

you will have a successional pea harvest until the Powdery Mildew destroys them when the days become hot ( about December).

If you grow them as a manure crop you should dig them in when they flower.

Peas are suitable to follow with sweet corn, tomatoes or kale,

so you can transplant the later indeterminate varieties of tomato seedlings in the bed when you clear it in November.

Similarly, sweet corn seed can be sown directly into the bed in November.

Peas are lime loving plants, so a good dressing of COF ( 250gms per square metre)

should be applied to the bed prior to sowing.

I mentioned Powdery Mildew with peas.

This is a fungal disease that is around once the weather gets hot and humid.

Peas invariably get it, but in a cool climate you may get away with some varieties in a cool summer.

Bush beans usually start cropping in late November any way so they will substitute for your legumes

when the peas succumb to the Powdery Mildew.

Snap Peas

Snap peas such as Sugar Snap are most suitable for growing in a cool climate.

They can be sown as early as August ( indoors as for peas- see above) and will crop right through a reasonably mild summer

without being too badly affected by Powdery Mildew.

Because you can eat the whole pea without having to shell it, they are probably preferable to the tall growing varieties.

Conditions for growth are similar to those for the taller varieties of pea.

I usually grow them on a reo-mesh frame which they will readily climb on. Keep picking them regularly and they will keep producing flowers.

 

Lentils

Lentils are a very high source of protein and often used as a meat substitute by vegetarians.

To grow lentils in Tasmania you will probably get away with buying seed from a health food store.

 

In September, these can be sown in the ground at a depth of 2cm at 5cm spacings with 60cm between rows.

The best fertiliser for this crop is a pre working of guano and lime into the soil at the rate of 3-5kg per 30 metres of row.

Keep this crop well watered as it wants all the soil moisture.

Keep watered until the pods start drying down.

Stop all watering at this point and allow the crop to die down.

When all the plants have yellowed you can pull the plants and store on a tarp to dry out thoroughly.

When the plants have thoroughly dried, you can thrash out the seed by banging the plants on the inside of a drum

and winnow it by pouring from one container into another in a gentle breeze.

This will clean the seed.

You will need to sow about 10 square metres to yield a couple of kilograms of beans.

 

 

This page was last updated on 11/12/2013