The immature seeds are boiled or steamed and used as a vegetable. The mature seeds are dried and stored for future use. They must be thoroughly cooked before being eaten and are best soaked in water for about 12 hours prior to this. They can be boiled, baked, pureed, ground into a powder or fermented into 'tempeh' etc. The powdered seed makes a protein-enriching additive to flour, it can also be used in soups etc[K]. The seed can also be sprouted and used in salads or cooked. The roasted seeds have been used as a coffee substitute.Young leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb. The very young laves are sometimes eaten as a salad, the older leaves are cooked.
The seed is diuretic, hypoglycaemic and hypotensive. Ground into a flour, it is used externally in the treatment of ulcers. The seed is also used in the treatment of cancer of the blood. When bruised and boiled with garlic they have cured intractable coughs. The root is dangerously narcotic.A homeopathic remedy is made from the entire fresh herb. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis, plus disorders of the urinary tract.
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The French bean is commonly cultivated in the temperate and subtropical zones and in montane valleys of the tropics for its edible mature seeds and immature seedpods. It is often grown to provide a major part of the protein requirement. A very variable plant, there are more than 1,000 named varieties ranging from dwarf forms about 30cm tall to climbing forms up to 3 metres tall. Plants are not frost-tolerant, air temperatures below 10°c can cause damage to seedlings. When grown for their edible pods, the immature pods should be harvested regularly in order to promote extra flower production and therefore higher yields. Yields of green pods averages about 3kg per square metre, though double this can be achieved. French beans grow well with strawberries, carrots, cauliflowers, cucumbers, cabbage, beet, leek and celeriac. They are inhibited by alliums and fennel growing nearby.This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
Problems, pests & diseases
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Polycultures & Guilds
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