In 2017 I have grown overwintered Aquadulce Claudia broad beans; Enorma Runner Beans; Cobra French climbing beans; and Cupidon dwarf beans.
The broad bean harvest occurred for 3 weeks from June 9th, with the haulms lifted on 29th June to be followed by Musselburgh leeks. Early pinching out limited the effects of blackfly. Harvests were solid, not spectacular. It is unclear if sowing beans W-E is better than N-S.
The Cupidon dwarf beans, sown in early May, germinated spectacularly after saving my own seed in 2016 and completed harvest by 27th July, with five plants retained to save new seed again. Planting in an equilateral triangle lattice of 30cm side gave reasonable yields of 12-15 beans per plant. A second sowing in early June failed to germinate, and a direct sowing around the Summer solstice saw 7/9 seedlings emerge, for a crop hopefully in the first half of September.
The Cobra climbing bean crop, also grown using home-saved seeds, produced a spectacularly early crop on 29th June after an indoor sowing on May 6th. The crop is nearly over now after four weeks of productive cropping, with the bottom beans on the best plants left to mature as seeds for 2018.
The Enorma runner beans suffered in the June and early July heat, failing to set pods due to overly warm night time temperatures. Since mid July, however, a regular harvest has been made, which shows no signs of stopping.
As a result, July was the month of French beans, whereas August will be the month of runner beans.
The lesson I have learned this year is that splitting the French bean sowings into two batches will be valuable. How do do that with pole climbers is yet to be ascertained.
The second lesson is that saving french bean and broad bean seeds biodynamically in 2016 yielded good crops in 2017. They are easily made, there are no delays to subsequent sowings and germination rates and time to harvest improve.
The final lesson concerns the efficacy of Marigolds in preventing blackfly on pole beans, a tip I gained from gardeners in Uxbridge who were selling plants to raise money for charity. Two plants at each end of the sticks, no blackfly, hurrah!