Borlotti Bean Barlotto di Fuoco
Whilst Borlotti Beans aren't as prolific as french or runner bean varieties the lush foliage and strikingly coloured pods look stunning on the veg plot, and the fresh beans taste far superior to their dried equivalents.
Time from seed to plate: 12 weeks
Borlotti beans can be sown directly in the ground, but they are vulnerable to frost, so we tend to sow them inside in rootrainers. Fill eight rootrainer cells with compost and push two beans into each one. Water well and place on a warm bright windowsill or in a green house. If more than one seedling comes up in any of the cells, pull out and discard the smallest. It seems brutal, but there's only space for one!
If you want to sow directly in the ground push two beans in a couple of inches deep at the bottom of each cane. Discard the weaker one if both come up.
By the end of May, when the frosts are well and truly over, plant out your beans. Make sure your soil has plenty of compost added because this will help retain moisture which beans love.
Grow them up a wigwam of 8 bamboo canes, or if you've got more space, up two parallel rows of canes about 2ft apart sloping inwards and tied to a horizontal bar in between. Plant firmly, at the bottom of a cane, ensuring there's 6-12 inches between plants.
Scatter round some organic slug killer because the stems are vulnerable at this stage.
Borlotti beans aren't huge producers, so it's a good idea to water with tomato fertiliser every 3-4 weeks whilst they're cropping to boost the yield.
Pick from late summer to mid autumn.
When your plants finish cropping. cut them down to the ground, but leave the roots in the soil because they add valuable nitrogen to benefit your next crop.