Once again, we're somewhere in week 6-8 (depending on when you started), so some of you might be seeing flower buds on your bean plants, particularly those in the South. If you're nowhere near flowering yet don't worry, the beans will take longer to grow in cooler areas, so just remember this for later. It looks from your twitter photos that the plants are coming up nicely, which is great to see!

Bagging in the soil

So, the 'twist' to the project this year is the additional repeat of plants grown in the soil directly, rather than just in pots. Most of the methods for doing the beans experiment are the same, regardless of where the plants are being grown, but putting bags on in-soil plants is a bit trickier than on the potted plants (mostly because you can't tuck the fleece underneath). So, this is one way to do it, for anyone having trouble:

1) Plant the selected bean in the soil, and fill back in the hole firmly.

2) Insert garden cane firmly into the soil alongside the bean, to support it.

3) Tie the bean loosely to the cane. The stem will need to expand as it grows, so leave plenty of space.

4) If you are using slug deterrants, place them around the base of the bean (pictured below are egg shells and wool pellets).

Beans in the soil
Left to right: Planting bean; adding support (and close up); readying fleece.

5) Place the fleece on the ground around the bottom of the bean plant.

6) There will be a small gap between the base of the plant and the stick. Push the fleece in this space to block it up or you will leave a hole for crawling insects.

7) Tie the fleece in place at the plant base.

8) Wrap the fleece around the bean and tie string securely at the top of the stick.

9) Hold the open side together with several clothes pegs or plastic ‘clippits’ to keep the fleece in place around the plant. The below example is on quite tight because of the weather, but can be loosened as the plant grows, and the wind lessens!

Beans in the soil2
Left to right: Supported plant; wrapping fleece around the base; holding together with pegs.