Incredibly prolific, incredibly attractive looking, and easy to grow. Runner Beans plants will grow up to 10ft tall and a row of them growing up a cane wigwam will make a great feature in the summer vegetable patch. The beans themselves are tasty and freeze well. The only downside in fact to runner beans is that you will have to pick them every other day in the summer months – so don’t be tempted to sow too many of them! A single plant will produce up to a kilo of beans.
Seeds can be sown direct in the soil or in module trays ready for transplanting. A disadvantage of the former is that slugs can get at the seedlings before they get a chance to get established. A disadvantage of the latter is that they can quickly outgrow their module tray so when they are ready to plant out, they are REALLY ready to plant out! Sow seeds in May, in pots, 5cm deep. There’s no point in sowing too early as they will be ready to transplant when the weather outside is too cold for them. You can sow an early crop in the polytunnel or greenhouse if you wish.
Plant three or four seedlings at the base of each cane - they seem to fare better when growing together like this. Tie them loosely to the support. They will very soon take hold and start to wind their way up the support at a rate of knots. Hoe around the plants regularly to suppress weeds. Water regularly in dry weather particarly when the flowers start to form. Mulch around the plants if it’s very dry. Pinch out the growing tips when they reach the top of the support.
It takes about 3 months to get the first crop, but once it starts, you won’t be able to keep up. Try to pick the beans while they are young – they get stringy as they get older. The more you pick, the more it will churn out.
Runner beans are generally problem free. Slugs are a problem for seedlings – seems they absolutely love them.