As a gardener I love beans; as a cook and consumer I love beans. Beans are versatile, come in a range of varieties, and you can add them to nearly any dish.
Our first bean crop every year are broad beans. Usually I forget to plant them in November and start them off in February. However, in November 2015 I actually remembered and so my beans are currently about 30cm high and begging to be planted out into the polytunnel from the pots I started them off in! Usually we can harvest in early July but this year, with my head start, (and depending on the weather) we may have some by late May!
The other beans I grow are dwarft purple beans. Usually these crop well inside and out but last year they did not respond well to our cool wet summer and so I had to rely on the greenhouse crops. They look great, though fade to dark green on cooking.
Runner beans can crop really well but again in summer 2015 they really suffered, but the previous year we had a bumper crop. Generally though you can’t fail with runner beans and this year I will make sure to have some in the tunnel or greenhouse as well as outside.
Finally, I also grow climbing french beans. Again they do better in a warm summer and so last year they did poorly outside (not helped by slugs!). I did manage to get a late crop from some later plantings in the greenhouse.
Of course the other huge benefit of growing beans is that they fix nitrogen, and so are essential for a good crop rotation in any vegetable garden. So even if you don’t get a good crop you still get nitrogen!
And finally if you only need one reason to grow beans then think bees. Because bees love bean flowers!