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Sow French beans outside6 May 2014
Sow French beans outside direct into the soil now it's starting to warm up - they'll get away to a great start and you can look forward to one of the treats of the summer in a couple of months' time.
You'll find a great selection of French bean seeds at your garden centre. Climbing French beans are the most productive, though they do need a wigwam of sturdy canes to support them. Good varieties include 'Cobra', the flat-podded 'Algarve', or for something really different purple-podded 'Purple Cascade'.
Bush varieties grow more quickly so you should get your crop sooner - they're ideal for sowing late in the season, in July, to squeeze in one more crop before the frosts arrive. 'Delinel' and 'The Prince' are both excellent heavy croppers.
Sow bush varieties in rows, 15cm apart for thinning to 30cm once seedlings emerge. For climbing types, bury two or three seeds at the foot of each cane and water in. Protect really well from slugs, and mulch with holly prunings to deter mice. They're also very vulnerable to snap late-season frosts, so just in case keep horticultural fleece handy to throw over your seedlings if the temperature is forecast to drop below zero.