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Connecticut Garden Journal: French filet beans are satisfying to grow and melt in your mouth

Plated fresh green beans.
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Steamed, sautéed in butter and topped with lemon and parmesan cheese or simply eaten raw, French filet beans melt in your mouth.

Sometimes the simplest vegetables are the best. Snap beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and most rewarding. Many of us first grew beans in biology class in elementary school in cups sitting in the class window. The seeds are large, the plants reliable and the fruits tasty.

While snap beans are easy to grow and delicious to eat, there is one group that's even more satisfying.

I love growing French filet beans. These varieties have been bred to grow slender, long beans that don't get stringy and tough, even when mature. Of course, the key is to keep picking them when young (about 4 inches long) when they have the best flavor. These are fresh eating beans and don't can or freeze well. Steamed, sautéed in butter and topped with lemon and parmesan cheese or simply eaten raw, French filet beans melt in your mouth. Some varieties I've grown include 'Nickel', 'Maxibel' and 'Tavera'. 'Velour' is a purple colored French filet variety and 'French Gold' is a pole bean version featuring yellow beans.

Grow beans on raised beds in well-drained soil. Go light on adding compost and fertilizer. Beans are legumes and can fix atmospheric nitrogen into a form of fertilizer they can use. Grow lettuce and other greens around the beans to take advantage of this fertilizer production. Wait until the soil has warmed to plant, to about the time you'd plant tomatoes. Bush beans mature quickly and also fade quickly. So plant in short rows in succession every 2 weeks into early August. This way, you'll have a constant supply of fresh beans to eat.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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