The legumes include:

1. Broad beans

2. French beans

3. Runner beans

4. Peas


This is a very reliable early-cropping vegetable. Generally only the seeds are eaten, but the whole pod can be eaten if harvested very young.


There are three main types of broad bean available from seed merchants:

i) Long pod varieties – kidney-shaped beans in long slim

pods. ii) Windsor varieties – beans almost round in shorter,

broader pods.. iii) Dwarf varieties

Variety Description

Long Pod Varieties

Hylon’ (white) One of the longest-podded beans.

Relon’ (green) A giant amongst beans, pod lengths over 50 cm (20 inch), 10 beans per pod.

‘Imperial Green (long pod green) A tall variety giving maximum yields and extra-long pods.

‘Express’ (greenish white) One of the fastest-maturing beans; a heavy cropper.

Windsor Varieties

‘Green Windsor’ (green) A heavy cropper with good flavour.

‘White Windsor’ (white) An old favourite, heavy cropper, with a good flavour.

Dwarf Varieties

‘The Sutton’ (white) Freely-branching bush 30 – 45 cm (12 – 18 inch) tall, ideal for small gardens.

Bonny Lad 37.5 – 45 cm (15 – 18 inch) with a white eye.

Soil Preparation

Rotation is desirable here, because although the broad bean rarely suffers from the pea cyst eelworm it may act as a host, allowing its survival. _A fine tilth IS not needed as the seeds are large. Plants grow best on rich fertile soils. Well-aerated, well-drained soils are essential for overwintered crops. The ideal pH is 6-7.


A suitable base dressing would be Growmore at 100g/sq.m

(3 oz/sq.yd), worked.well into the soil during preparation

for sowing.

Seed Sowing

The risk of autumn sowing is that on many sites the seedlings grow marvellously and are then battered to death in the’ winter by winds, wet and frost. An early November sowing can be made if soil conditions allow, but such sowings are best done on well-drained soil. Some people sow at Christmas, resulting in early growth in the spring. The first outdoor spring sowing can be made in early March, or as early as February under cloches. If further sowings are to be made these can be in late March or early April.

Drills 37.5 – 45 cm (15 – 18 inch) apart if in single rows, or two rows 20 – 22.5 cm (8 – 9- inch) apart for double rows, with 60 – 75 cm (2-2 ½ feet) between double rows. Draw the drills 7.5 cm (3 inch) deep and place the seeds 15 – 20 cm (6 – 8 inch) apart. Plants can be raised under -glass in January/ February for an early crq), but transplant best if grown in blocks or pots rather than in seed trays.

Routine Work

In an exposed site some support with canes and string may fc e needed. Pinching out the growing points should be done regularly to reduce black fly and encourage the pods. The pods should be harvested as they become large enough. Hoe occasionally to control weeds. It is important to keep the plants well-watered from the start of flowering and throughout the pod-forming and picking period – this improves pod set, yields and quality.

Pests and Diseases

Bean aphid Blackfly Cause a check in growth Pinching out the growing tips as aphids arrive. Spray With a pirimicarb-based insecticide.

Pea & bean weevil Small, semicircular pieces eaten from’ the edge of leaves Encourage good germination and rapid establishment. Seed may be treated with HCH dust.


Chocolate Spot Leaves covered in chocolate-brown spots. Apply potash. Improve drainage. Spray with benomyl.


The french bean is one of the easiest, quickest and most prolific garden vegetables to grow, and is ideal for deep-freezing. Most french bean varieties grow as compact 30 – 45 cm (l1 – 18 inch) bushels. There are a few which are climbers and will reach a height of 180 – 210 cm (6 – 7 inch).

An open sunny site will give best crops. Like peas, bean roots use bacteria to fix nitrogen from the air and convert it into nitrogenous plant food. As a result they leave the soil rich in nitrogen.

Seed Sowing

To get the heaviest crop sow the seeds to produce 43 plants per sq.m (4 plants per sq.ft). Time sowing so that when the first shoots come through the soil there is no possibility of frost. If sowing under glass sow 5 to 7 seeds per 17.5 cm (7 inch) poti If sowing outdoors, sow 2.5 – 5 cm (1 – 2 inch) deep, either in a drill or simply pushed into the soil along the row. Sow from early May, or earlier if glass cloches or similar protection is available, (e.g. late April.)

Routine Work

Hoe occasionally to keep down weeds. Support climbing

french beans with canes, string or nets. It is important to

keep the plants well-watered at the start of flowering and

throughout pod formation.

Pests and Diseases


Aphid Spray with dimethoate, pirimicarb or menazon.

Slugs Apply slug pellets containing methiocarb (all slug pellets may be poisonous to animals, so keep them inaccessible to cats and dogs).


The runner bean is one of Britains most popular fresh garden vegetables, no doubt because it is tasty, smells delicious, is prolific and very easy to grow.



Stick Varieties

Kelvedon Marvel’

‘Achievement ‘Red Knight’ An early cropper, produces rather short pods about 14 days before standard varieties.

Long, straight pods, good for exhibition and for freezing.

A red-flowering variety. Stringless, good flavour and good for freezing.

Dwarf Varieties

‘Hammond s Dwarf Scarlet’ Grows to 45 cm (18 inch) high with pods 20 cm (8 inch) long. Mature early, and will crop for many weeks if picked regularly.


Site and Soil

It is important to provide shelter from the wind to give good pollination conditions. Frost pockets must be avoided. Good drainage is essential, but at the same time moisture retention is important. A light type of soil is best, pH 6-7. A heavier yield will be produced when organic matter is dug into the soil, e.g. farmyard manure applied at 7.5 kg/sq.m (141b/sq.yd) plus 101 gm/sq.m (3oz/sq.yd) Growmore.


Sow from mid-May until the end of June (late April if cloche protection is available), according to frost danger in locality. Sow a double row in drills 30 cm (12 inch) apart and 5 – 7.5 cm (2 – 3 inch) deep, leaving 15 cm (6 inch) between each seed. Alternatively, runner beans may be grown without stakes, in which case the rows need not be more than 60 cm (24 inch) apart. The ogjj b ajis tend to become somewhat soil-splashed.

Routine Work

Thin the plants by removing each alternate seedling. Hoe as soon as the first pair of leaves has unfolded, and stake immediately.

The crop can be grown without support if shoots are pinched back- regularly to keep the plant about 75 cm (2 ½ inch) tall. Rows can be 90 cm (3 inch) apart. This gives an earlier crop, but quality is not so good.

Variety Description

Wrinkle-seeded Varieties

First Earlies ‘Kelvedon Wonder’

Little Marvel’

‘Beagle’ 45 cm (1 ½ inch). Excellent for successional sowing. Mildew resistance high.

45 cm (1 ½ inch). Good flavour. The blunt ended pods are borne in pairs.

45 cm (1 ½ inch). The earliest wrinkled pea. 8 peas per pod.

Second Earlies ‘Onward’

Miracle’ 75 cm (2 ½ inch). The most popular garden pea. Heavy cropper with good resistance to disease.

120 cm (4 inch). A good all-year-round variety.

Main Crop Alderman’

‘Senator’ 150 cm (5 inch). The large pods contain 11 peas. Yields are high and picking season prolonged.

75 cm (2 ½ inch). Ideal for small gardens. The pods are borne in pairs – both flavour and yields are good.


‘Oregon Sugar Snap’ ‘Sugar Snap 105 cm (3 ½ inch). Pods reach 120 – 135 cm (4 – 4 ½ inch).

150 cm (5 inch). A dual-purpose pea. When pods are young, cook like a true mange-tout. More mature pods can be stringed and eaten like french beans or shelled and eaten as peas. Sow in succession as for wrinkle seeded peas. Harvest from July.


Waverex 90 cm (3 inch). Pod and seeds are small and the peas delicious.

60 cm (2 inch). Eat raw in salads.



The seed of these varieties remain smooth and round when dried. They are all first earlies – hardier and faster to mature than other types. They are used for late autumn and early spring sowing.


The seed is distinctly wrinkled when dry. They are sweeter and larger, and are heavier croppers than the round varieties. They are also less hardy, and should not be sown before March.


They are also known as show peas, sugar peas, eat-all and Chinese peas. They are rather easier to grow than garden peas – pick before seeds swell and cook the pods whole.

Petit Pois

These are not immature peas, but a dwarf variety which produces tiny 3 – 6 mm (1/8 – ¼ inch) peas which are uniquely sweet.

Soil Preparation

Peas do best in a deeply-worked, well-drained soil which has a fairly high organic content. A pH of 7 is ideal; the nitrogen-fixing bacteria on the roots require freedom from acidity, and neutral or just alkaline conditions suit them well.

Sowing Instructions

For the earliest crops, sow directly into the cropping site, either in late October/early November (under cloches) or in early March. Crops from this sowing will be ready to pick in late May/early June. One can also sow in pots indoors in late January/early February, planting out under cloches in March. To get an early crop after these sowings, sow successionally in the cropping site throughout the spring and into early summer. Mid-June is about the latest date for a harvestable crop.

Sow seeds in a V-shaped drill 5 – 7.5 cm (2 – 3 inch) deep, spacing them to give 118 plants/sq.m (11 plants/sq.ft). Sow dwarf varieties to give 170 plants/sq.m (16 plants/sq.ft). An inter-row width of 60 cm (2 inch) for the low-growing types and 90 cm (3 inch) for the tall varieties is suitable.

Routine work

Cover the young seedlings of early crops with polythene tunnels or cloches as protection against weather and birds. When the seedlings are 5 – 7.5 cm (2 – 3 inch) high, some form of support will be needed.

1. Twiggy hazel sticks set upright or at an angle of 45°.

2. Plastic netting supported between two posts, up which peas climb on their own.

Hoe occasionally to control weeds. Water well when the plant is in full bloom. Weed control in flat-bottomed drills is distinctly difficult and may leave several nettle seedlings, which may become a distinct nuisance to pickers later on.

Pests and Diseases

Pest Description and control

Pea moth Small maggots burrow through the pod into the seeds. Early and late crops often escape damage. Spray with fenitrothion 7-10 days after start of flowering.


Powdery mildew White powdery patches appear on both sides of the leaves. Spray with carbendazim at the first sign of the disease. Repeat at fortnightly intervals. Good soil conditions and freedom from drought may help to keep crops free from mildew.


Pick regularly to avoid the peas becoming mealy. Once the seeds have started to ripen on the lowest pods, the plants stop producing more pea pods.

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