Summer death in beans
Most vegetable gardeners have had the distressing experience of a row of beans collapsing and dying just as they are about to produce a crop. This year I sowed a new (to me) variety of climbing bean called ‘Vitalis’. The seed was sown directly into the garden on the 20th of October along with two other kinds of climbing bean, ‘Westralia’ and ‘Kentucky Blue’.
All three varieties grew well at first, although Kentucky Blue is always slow growing at the start, and all reached the top of a two metre plus trellis by late December. But then just as they started to flower all the ‘Vitalis’ plants collapsed and died.
‘Vitalis’ had succumbed to a disease called sudden death.
Sudden Death is more of a problem in rural areas and this is probably because the virus’s vector is the common brown leafhopper which is more commonly to be found in the country.
‘Sudden death’ can decimate most of the older varieties of both dwarf bean and climbing beans. Modern varieties have been selected to be resistant to this disease.
As you can see in the photograph the metre or so of ‘Westralia’ and ‘Kentucky Blue’ are perfectly healthy whereas all of the ‘Vitalis’ are dead.
Climbing beans are really useful for home gardeners as they crop over such a long period compared with dwarf bean varieties. For two months or more I can pick enough beans daily from two metres of trellis to satisfy the two of us and have enough to spare for my children and grandchildren.
I sow Scarlet Runner beans later than the climbing beans as Scarlet Runners don’t crop well, if at all, during hot weather but they crop well during autumn. Scarlet Runner beans have the best flavour of all green beans. They also freeze well if thinly sliced with a French bean slicer and snap frozen.
Joseph tawodros oud player