Sunday, 16 September 2012

Beanz Meanz ...

Posted by Rosie

... we WILL eat vegetables this Winter.

As anyone who has tried to grow fruit or veg this summer in the UK or this part of France will know only too well, 2012 has been a challenging year to say the least. Many growers gave up altogether where-as others, like myself, who were wet but not flooded, struggled on. The result was some spectacular failures but some things, amazingly, have done very well. On the failure list I can count strawberries, much of the tree fruit, carrots, swedes, turnips, kohl rabi, cabbages and nearly all other brassicas, but on the success side, after a poor year in 2011, I can add BEANS. Broad, Runner and French have all been brilliant. We are eating them almost every day and the freezers are groaning under their ever increasing weight. We WILL have veg to eat over the coming months!

So why have they done so well? To be honest the story could so easily have been different as it took several sowings to get both the French and Runners to even germinate. Early polytunnel sowings did not show at all and as the damp, drizzle and downpours that was Spring turned into more of the same in Summer, outdoor sowings were also a non-starter.   Undeterred and rather late, I put in two final rows, not holding out much hope but I had the seeds so I had nothing to lose. I also sowed some in the polytunnel thinking that if the main crop outside failed yet again, I might be luckier in there.

Some of today's bean harvest
It turns out both were brilliant and I have been picking bucketfuls of both Runners and 6 varieties of French for weeks now (including 4 heritage varieties from a French friend). In fact, with such a spectacular outdoor crop I have left the indoor ones unpicked to harvest the seeds.

It is true frozen beans, not least Runners, are never as good from the freezer as fresh beans, but with fewer Winter crops to see us through, they will be most welcome. A friend also gave me this cooking trick that works especially well with Runners:

Boil both the pan of water for the beans and extra in a kettle. Once the water boils, add the frozen beans then drain straight away before returning to the pan with the kettle boiled water. Cook until your desired level of "crunchy-sogginess". You'll still know they aren't fresh but they will taste far better cooked this way.


  1. We are finding the same here Rosie- suddenly all the climbing french or canadian beans are going berserk and we are overflowing with them :-)

    Likewise the courgette plants which I planted out 4 weeks ago in a last gasp attempt to get some courgettes are producing like mad.

    So we WILL have some food in the freezer and in jars for the winter..!

  2. Good news! We had a pitiful crop of beans - they never got going. The ones we did have were tasty enough though. Looks like you had a great crop with lots of variety

  3. Here in midwestern US it has been a touch season as well. Although a great year for tomatoes. Maybe we should trade a few cans of tomato sauce for a few bags of frozen beans...I'm sure they're still worlds better than what I'd find in the supermarket! haha. I love your blog and WOW your house is stunning.

  4. Hi Andrew and thanks for following the blog. Should you ever get over to France you know where you can stay! I'm glad your tomatoes did well. Mine in the polytunnel were pretty good too but I have given up trying to grow them outdoors. We had our first frost yesterday although not hard enough to kill all the tender plants just yet. I'm hoping my pumpkins are OK but I reckon I will have to harvest them very soon.

  5. @CW and WW - yup, it's been a difficult gardening year and believe it or not what we actually could do with now is some rain! No doubt we will get more than enough before too long.


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