Name: Garden Bean, Common Bean, French Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Description: P. vulgaris is an annual climbing plant of the legume family. It is grown primarily for its seed (bean) which is usually cooked and used in a wide variety of dishes. Other uses of the plant include decorative growing and "nitrogen fixation", a process by which bacteria living in the plants' root nodes convert nitrogen into ammonium, enriching the soil and increasing its fertility.
Size: Stalks of p. vulgaris usually grow up to 3 - 4 meters long in adequate conditions.
A p. vulgaris climbing up a branch.
Conditions: P. vulgaris thrives best in warm, moist and nutrient-rich soils, with a pH of between 6.2 - 6.8, so slightly acidic. They are generally rather frost-sensitive and should be sown in mid-spring after the last frost.
In environments where there are wild rodents it is best to build a protective mesh around the young plants, as the leaves tend to be a tasty snack for many rabbits and mice.
A damaged seedling, note the bitten-off leaves.
Propagation: P. vulgaris spreads via seed, contained within the many pods grown at maturity. It will grow many purple, bulbous flowers before producing the pods.
A maturing plant showing first little flower heads.
When to plant: As mentioned above, this plant is fairly sensitive to frost and will likely die if exposed to it. It is recommended to wait until the soil temperature reaches a consistent 20 degrees celsius or above before planting.