French bean crop sheet


French beans have recently gained popularity as they crop earlier than runner beans. There are two different forms; dwarf and climbing French beans. Purple, green and yellow pods are available. 

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: Late Spring, Early Summer
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Maths, Science

Learning objectives

  • Learn how to warm the soil or protect crops in colder weather
  • Learn how to handle seeds and sow them 
  • Learn how to plant out at a specified distance


Organic matter or fertiliser should be incorporated at least one month beforehand.
The soil, raised bed or planter should have already been cultivated and be weed free with a fine, crumbly texture ready for seed sowing.

Equipment needed

  • Rake or hand cultivator
  • Trowel and bamboo cane
  • Measuring stick
  • Seeds (check they are suitable to sow at that time of year)
  • Watering can with a rose
  • Enviromesh or horticultural fleece
  • Label and pencil, pots and compost if you are using them

Step by step

  1. Make a drill (channel) in the soil 5cm deep. Use a measuring stick to keep it straight if using a trowel.
  2. You could also use a large dibber to make holes.
  3. Sow the seeds about 6cm apart in the soil, or plant one single seed in each pot if you are growing them indoors.
  4. Cover the seeds and firm the soil above with the back of a trowel. Water the drill using a watering can with a rose.
  5. Label the row and make another drill 45cm away and do the same again. If you make a wigwam, or support structure from twigs or canes, bear this in mind.
  6. The plants may need to be tied to canes to begin with. Keep watering beans in dry weather and remove any weeds.
  7. Harvest your beans when they are the size you want to eat them. You could save beans (seeds) at the end of the season to grow again next year.

Hints & tips

  • Dwarf French beans are good to grow in a small bed or container. Climbing French beans need some support to climb up.
  • Varieties such as ‘Loch Ness’ and ‘Purple Podded’ are more suitable for colder climates.

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