How To Save French Bean Seed Is Another In The Seed Saving Series. French Beans Are A Good Vegetable Seed To Save As It Is One Of the Easiest. Here Is Why It Is Easy & How To Do It.

French bean seed

French Beans come in two sorts. Bush and Climbing beans (climbing beans are known as pole beans in the USA). The pods themselves vary considerably in colour, shape and size. And the actual beans themselves can be a surprise sometimes. The colour, shape, and patterns on the bean seeds themselves can be very variable depending on the variety.

Speaking of variety this can sometimes confuse some people.  Take Safari beans. I know Safari beans as a variety of beans that is best sown as a late cropper. For me its that simple. But some people tend to use the term more generically to mean imported beans, often from Kenya (or sometimes other East African countries). Safari beans are often sold as fresh beans in supermarkets and will have ben airfreighted into the UK. To further confuse the issue some seed companies use Safari and Kenya Beans together to describe a variety of French beans!

The important thing about these beans isn’t the various names. It’s that they are self pollinated and therefore rarely cross breed.

French Bean Seed: Isolation & Pollination

Though French beans are normally self pollinated insects do occasionally visit the flowers and cross pollination is possible. So growing the crop isolated from other French bean crops makes sense. And by crop I mean the specific variety you are trying to save seed from. A distance of 10 metres is said to be enough though. personally, I’d make that 2-30 metres. In fact I’d be much happier if no other French beans were grown anywhere nearby.

How To Grow French Beans For Seed

This is easy. Grow them exactly the same as you would for a normal edible crop. But give them as long a season as you can, consistent with the variety, so they have plenty of time to mature and dry.

You will not need many plants to get seed from, though I prefer taking a few seed from as many plants as possible as it spreads the genetic potential over more plants. And the more you have the fewer cross bred ones you’ll have should the odd plant get crossed!

Rogue your plants thoroughly. Remove any plants not typical of the variety. You want to ensure the leaves and pods all look right for size, colour , markings and shape.  If you are saving from a bush variety and see a plant that is of climbing habit it is easy to see it is wrong and should be discarded as not being typical for the variety. Subtle differences are harder to spot and that’s where your familiarity with a variety comes in. It is easier to select plants where you’ve grown the variety many times.

I cover plant and seed selection in more detail in a post on seed saving principles.

Harvesting Home Saved French Bean Seed

The ideal way is to let the pods dry on the plant and only harvest when the bean seeds are themselves dry.

But on occasion it may be necessary to pull the plants and leave them hanging in a cool breezy shed to complete the drying process.

Hand pick the pods and remove the seeds. Reject any seed with unusual colouring or with damage. Bean weevil damage is a possibility and can be detected by looking for the tell tail small hole sin the harvest beans.

Where you have a lot of beans to save seeds from, rather than remove the seeds by hand, I like to put the pods in a large Hession sack, hang it from a beam and beat it with a heavy stick.

Where this form of “mechanical harvesting” is undertaken there is likely to be a lot of crop debris mixed with the beans. I winnow the seed by placing them in a soil sieve and throwing the beans into the air to be caught in the sieve each time, whilst standing in a windy spot. The debris blows away … make sure you don’t stand in the wrong place and get it in your eyes.

When winnowing, work over a large sheet to catch any beans that escape the soil sieve.

Final drying, if necessary, should be somewhere warm and airy but NOT hot.

Storing French Bean Seed

The seed keeps several years if kept in a cool dry place. I like to store smaller quantities in large glass jars as it keeps rodents at bay and any fresh weevil damage can be easily spotted.

A few weeks after putting the seeds in store I like to remove ten seeds and try a germination test. I’d expect at least nine seeds to germinate, preferably ten.

If germination is poor try getting some replacement seed from another seed saver!

Thats it for How To Save French Bean Seed, but check my other seed saving posts via the links and search bar.

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