Growing beans in boxes or beds

There is nothing tastier than vegetables freshly picked from the garden, particularly if you have nurtured them yourself. I once had quite a large vegie garden, but since moving to town I am confined to Styrofoam boxes until we get our yard organised . It is amazing how much can be produced in a small area!

Have your soil well dug over and if possible add lots of compost. I always pour nine litres of water with a cup of vinegar added, over about two square metres of garden before I plant. This helps control nematodes and other nasties in the ground .

Now the weather is warming it is time to plant beans . There are lots of varieties to choose from and they are very easy to grow , besides being deliciously nutritious . Climbing beans take up little room and produce prolifically. Grow against a fence or provide some sort of trellis to support them and if possible protect from winds. Water a shallow trench well and plant seeds about 15cm apart. Don't water again for a couple of days - there should be enough moisture in the trench for germination . Mulch either side of row, but not directly on to plants. As plants grow, a side dressing of a nitrogen fertilizer or liquid fertilizer is beneficial, but don't overdo it, or you will have lots of leaf to the detriment of fruit.

Always pick beans when young and tender, and pick every couple of days to prolong flowering and fruit. After all this TLC, you will most likely have beans to spare, so prepare as for cooking, blanch for three minutes, drain and pat dry, spread on a tray and place in freezer . When frozen, place in containers or bags. This way they won't stick together .

Blue lake, butter bean and snake are among the climbers you can get. There are many others with subtle flavour differences, as well as bush and dwarf varieties. Why not try several different ones!

For many years, I have found a spray consisting of 1 litre full-cream milk, 9 litres water and 2 teaspoons carb-soda helps deter powdery mildew - but it must be reapplied after rain or watering! Did you know beans like to be watered from above? They're one of the few plants that do.

Lismore Garden Club Meets every second Thursday of the month , 1pm at Lismore Workers Club. For further info phone Dorothy, 6621 4100 or Judy 6622 0974.

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