Garden care for vegetable plants: runner and climbing French beans, salad leaves

By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 10 June 2016.

Vegetable plants need your care – now!

Garden care for vegetable plants is essential if you want good crops. Here’s some advice on what you need to do to care for your runner and climbing French beans, and how to keep a steady supply of salad leaves for your table.

Garden care for vegetable plants
Ordinary looking runner beans. Simon Speed. Licensed under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Frameworks for runner and climbing French beans

If you followed up our ideas in May on growing beans you will have young plants ready to plant out in the garden. To produce good crops, both climbing French beans and runner beans need a framework to climb up and a good soil to grow in. Here’s how!

  • Decide where your beans are to grow. Clear weeds, dig in lots of well rotted garden compost or leaf mould from your compost bin (if planting climbing French beans, make sure it really is well rotted as the plants may rot themselves in  soggy and damp materials)
  • Firm the soil down
  • Tie canes, about 20cm apart at ground level, into a wigwam or a row, or use garden poles to create a framework to support netting, mesh or a trellis. Not sure where to start on this sort of garden construction?  Try Gardeners’ World, Capel Manor, or YouTube
  • After the risk of frosts has passed, use a trowel to plant one plant per cane, water well and keep watch to encourage the trailing stems to twine round their support
  • In very dry spells use a household plant water spray to damp the flowers lightly to help the beans ‘set’
  • Runner beans like water so don’t be shy about watering them, but climbing French beans can cope with less water and, in fact, don’t appreciate being overwatered so they are a good choice for dry gardens, and busy people.
  • Follow any instructions on the seed packet for the beans you chose.

You didn’t plant any? No problem…

Head for the nearest local fete or garden centre and buy some plants now, because beans really are a good value and colourful veg. to grow.

Garden care for vegetable plants
Runner bean wigwams ready for planting.  Image from Jonathan Wallace’s blog at: ,

Last year I grew a wigwam of beans in a 60cm diameter pot, tucked into my flower border to fill a gap among the plants. It needed a lot of water, and looked good, but was tricky to reach to pick the beans. Nice idea but not so clever! This year I am putting the wigwam into the soil near the edge of the border and planting one bean per pole. It should be easier to care for and pick the beans I am sure will grow.

Sow for a steady supply of salad leaves

Salad leaves are one of those things we have too much of, or run out of, in my garden. The solution? Successional sowing. This means sowing small amounts of seed often. A 30cm row of thinly sown lettuce, or mixed salad leaves, sown every week or two from now into August will provide young leaves to enjoy rather than endure. Follow our tips for sowing seeds of leafy veg such as spinach and any instructions on seed packets.

garden care for vegetables
Successional sowing of salad leaves or lettuce to ensure a steady supply. Thompson & Morgan salad leaves, ‘Speedy Mix’

What’s not to like?

Care for your vegetable plants for an easy and tasty way to your five a day, and with exercise too.

Gardening really is good for you!

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