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Karen Kenny on tall beans and making a simple raised bed

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Karen Kenny Karen Kenny | 08:20 UK time, Friday, 9 July 2010

Karen Kenny, an allotment expert with the NSALG, answers your questions about courgettes and French beans. If you have a similar story to share, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry. You need to register first, which only takes two minutes.

Lydia asks: My beans have already grown higher than the wall I planted them against, with netting (1m 58cm - whoops!) Should I nip off the tops? Or try to find giant canes?

Answer: Hey Lydia, make sure there is no giant living at the top and either snip them off and have mature beans faster or let them bend and start to return down, the netting. It's no good needing a stepladder to harvest the beans. Think of the health and safety aspect!

Yvonne Shannon asks: The French beans have grown very well but are now growing higher than the cane - do I pinch off the growing tip? Or, if not is it OK to allow the top to bend over the top of the plant?

Answer: I think you must mean climbing French beans - either is fine. Try growing over an archway next year and then you have shade for plants under the arch and can pick the beans hanging down. They will then run across each other and give you lots and lots of beans and shade for your lettuces or even dwarf beans or whatever. Also grow a few sweet peas among them. They look great and you get cut flowers too! Don't waste an inch of soil.

Martin Berry from Southend-on-Sea asks: Free veg growing rapidly! I need more room and would like to build a raised bed on my small balcony. I'd like to make one out of old wood or an empty box. Do I need keep it off the ground? What about drainage/watering? The balcony is made of concrete. Any tips will be appreciated.

Answer: I know what you mean, there's never enough room. A raised bed made from an old box or even an old drawer can work well. Line it with plastic and make sure you put some holes in the bottom, yes through the plastic too. A use for that awful polystyrene is to use it for drainage in a pot. So if you have some, pop a layer in the bottom. Then fill the pot with a mix of multipurpose and John Innes 2 or 3 and off you go, planting away. You can rest it on a bed of pebbles to give you a little space between the concrete which will allow drainage. Or if you can find a tray large enough, put some pebbles in the tray. It's ideal for salad and herb crops. Good luck.

If anyone else has had similar with growing the Dig In veg, add your comments below.

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