I am currently trialling climbing French bean ‘Monte Cristo’ for Which? Gardening and have joined their community online forum to discuss any interesting aspects which come to light during the growing phase and subsequent taste trial. Like all French beans, they were easy and quick to germinate pushed into some peat free compost in toilet roll inners, so nothing to report on that score. They romped away when I planted them out in late May and quickly got to the top of their 8′ canes despite some slug and snail damage to the lower leaves. The foliage and flowers quickly followed and by mid-July the beans started to form. That’s when I noticed something odd. A lot of the beans were curly!
Not all of them of course, most of them were just fine but I thought I had better report the curliness as it was a trial and all comments are appreciated, no matter how daft. Suddenly the forum was full of ‘mine too’ comments so not so daft after all!
Some knowledgeable friends with allotments suggest the problem is possibly erratic watering, a bit like the problem you get when tomatoes split. It could also be due to the beans touching or leaning on other stems, beans or foliage rather than hanging down which could send growth in the wrong direction. However, they also make the point that virtually all climbing bean varieties produce some curly beans but people are conditioned to expect straight ones because that’s what they buy in the supermarkets which reject the curly ones!
They all taste wonderful, curly or straight! That lovely squeaky, nutty but strangely sweet taste that is so much nicer than runner beans (in my humble opinion) and the best bit of all is they are totally stringless, even when they are a bit old. A quick top and tail and into a pan of boiling water for a few minutes and Bob’s your uncle, delicious with a knob of butter. All observations, comments and suggestions gratefully received from any visiting readers which I will pass on to Which? for their information.