In The Greenhouse: MAGIC BEANS

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Hi there! Welcome to my blog The English Meadow. I’m back again with another garden update to tell you what else I’ve been getting up to in my garden recently. Don’t forget you can follow my blog for regular updates 🙂

As the blog post title suggests, I’ve been sowing some magic beans, specifically: borlotti beans! I actually started to grow these last year. I sowed them direct in the ground and had excellent germination and all the seedlings emerged, but then they must have been eaten by something because they were all nibbled away! Nooooo! I did not try again last year because I did not have a greenhouse to protect them and in any case, it was really too late for greenhouse sowing. Anyway, I’m early and prepared this year with my new greenhouse in tow (I’ve spent SO much time in there recently, it’s been fantastic!), so I set about getting some beans started off in the greenhouse. I suspect it may have been the dastardly slugs that got to the tender young seedlings last year, so I will ensure these babies are more mature before I plant them out and I will just have to keep a close eye on them! On a side note, have any of you companion planted anything with beans to prevent them being eaten by slugs and the like? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Anyway, without further ado, here are what the seeds look like straight out of the packet:


Aren’t they so  interesting!? These particular borlotti beans are ‘Lingua de Fuoco 2’ and I purchased them from Sarah Raven last year. You can have a good look at how they look once they are ready to be harvested on the Sarah Raven website here. They are so beautiful! I’m really hoping these do well this year 🙂 I’m very excited about them.

I soaked these seeds for half an hour before sowing them. I did this because soaking them helped to soften the hard outer-shell of the seed, which in turn allows for improved germination. You can also do this with other seeds that have hard out-shells such as sweet peas. I actually soaked these borlotti beans with some anemone corms that I needed to soak for a couple of hours before planting them. Unfortunately life got in the way and the little anemones are still soaking away waiting for me. I will get on to that this week before they get too wet and rot away! Oops! Shouldn’t be a huge problem 🙂


I sowed these beans in toilet rolls because they need to be sown 5cm deep and they tend to have long root systems. Loo rolls are also brilliant to use because they naturally decompose in the ground. Just make sure that the cardboard is saturated before you plant (which is better for the plant anyway, too) to ensure it rots down completely. Do let your household know why you are collecting piles of loo rolls around the house so that they don’t think your eccentric ways have gone slightly too far this time 🙂 Heh.

I like to place the loo rolls into a module tray (see photo below) before filling to keep everything in place and it is difficult to move them once they are filled with compost. Once you start to water these babies, the cardboard will naturally become more fragile, so the plastic module tray helps to keep everything together until you’re ready to plant out. I sowed these beans using general purpose compost as I was running low on seed compost. I figured that since these can be directly sown in the ground, general purpose should suffice:

Here you can see I put just one bean in per loo roll and then filled the loo roll up with compost before watering in and that’s it… easy! Now it’s just a case of waiting 🙂

I will keep you all updated on how these do! They grow to two metres high once they get going and the pods really are exquisite looking. I can’t comment on the taste yet, but if they taste anything as beautiful as they look I can’t complain! These will be perfect for freezing so that I have extra greens come next Winter once things start dying down again. That would be such a delight to dig these pretty little beans out of the freezing in the cold months! What a great reminder of Summer don’t you think? 🙂  Have any of your grown these gorgeous little beans before? How did they do? Let me know in the comment section below! I’d love to hear your thoughts! Until next time, happy gardening and stay tuned for more garden updates coming soon. Don’t forget you can follow my blog so that you don’t miss any new blog posts 🙂


Written by Bethany Wright at The English Meadow blog

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