Following the receipt of the this story several members of the haqmlet have taken the beans to keep this 100 year old tradition going
Grandad's beans. Some notes.
The story goes that when granddad was in France during the first World War when they were withdrawn from the front for rest periods he was billeted on a French family. When he left he mentioned how much he enjoyed the beans that they grew and the lady of the house gave him a bag of seed to take home. He grew these on his allotment, saving new seed each year, until he died. A short time after he died aunt Annie found a tobacco tin of seed in the shed which she gave to my dad and he continued to grow them until he died. In the meantime he had given me some seed and I continue to grow them until this day. I have given several younger relatives some seed in the past but but they did not seem to have much success so I thought I would see if any other younger members of the extended family are interested. It must be over one hundred years now since granddad was given the seed and to me, even though some may consider me to be mad, it would be rather a shame if the tradition could not continue.
The beans are a climbing variety which grow to about the height of our familiar runner bean (about 2 metres) so they need canes or sticks. I usually plant them in the garden about the first week of May. If they are started off in a greenhouse or shed I never plant them out until about the 20th of May because on the 17th of May in 2010 I lost every plant to a snap frost.
They are usually ready for picking around the beginning of August and continue well in to September. Pick the beans when they are flat or just slightly swollen which is generally when they are about 10cm long. If they are left to swell too much they will lose their flavour and become a bit tough.
If a few are to be kept for seed let them swell and go brown, dry and brittle. Remove the seed from the shucks and allow to dry naturally for a week or so and then store in a waterproof container. It is best to save seed from more than one plant. I have stored seed for two or three years and still had good germination.