Climbing Bean (Cobra)
A highly recommended variety which produces huge crops of fine French beans over a long season. The stringless pods are slender and straight with superb texture and flavour. Fast growing plants produce attractive purple flowers and show good resistance to disease. This particular variety performs so well it has been awarded the RHS’s prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
Sow outdoors May to early July. Climbing beans can be sown outdoors for ease. Choose a sunny, sheltered location for best results and wait until the soil has warmed up, ideally to around 10°C+. If the soil is very heavy, cold or waterlogged an indoor sowing is preferable. Beans like good fertile soil so it’s worth digging in a slow release fertiliser or some organic matter before you start. Sow 5cm deep directly where plants are to grow. For surest results, sow two seeds together, with 30cm between each pair. Gently firm the soil and keep moist. When large enough to handle remove the weaker seedling of each pair, leaving the strongest to grow on. It is good practice to water well after thinning out, to wash any dislodged soil back around the roots of the remaining plants. Remove any weeds as they appear.
Top Tips About Seeds
Once the seed packet has been opened, the seeds can be stored in an airtight container until required for further sowings. Climbing bean seeds will maintain their vigour for a good number of years.
Climbing beans can only be grown in the largest of patio containers but crops will be much smaller. Dwarf French beans might be a better choice. Keep plants well watered if growing in containers.
Climbing beans are pretty much problem free. They can occasionally suffer an attack of blackfly (Black bean aphids) but usually only if the plants are weak or under-watered. An infestation usually starts at the tip of a plant so the prompt removal of the tip along with the aphids on it, will quickly deal with the problem in most instances.
The most important thing to remember about harvesting beans is to do it constantly and to never let up. Once seed pods are allowed to mature the plants will begin to slow down the growth of new ones.
Ideas for using your climbing bean
Regular and thorough watering throughout the harvest period will really help to increase the size and the quality of the crop. If you are going away on holiday pick every bean you can find before you go, even the tiny ones. Any surplus beans can simply be bagged and frozen whole for later use. When needed just chop them up from frozen and put them straight into the pan. French beans are also delicious lightly cooked, tossed in garlic butter and served in a salad. When in flower climbing beans make very attractive plants so if space is limited a wigwam of beans can look great in an ornamental border.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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