Herbal Medicine from your Garden
Interesting guide to essential oils
Tree care specialists Edinburgh
Container gardening tips
Tell a Friend about Us
Articles about Vegetable Crops for the Garden
Choosing a Site For Your Home Vegetable Garden
Double Your Crops
Getting Children Interested in Growing Vegetables
Grow Your Own Salad
Growing Vegetable Plants Becomes More Than Just A Hobby
Learning About Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening
List of vegetable crops by difficulty
Mushroom Growing in Odd Unused Spaces
Non Hybrid Seeds For Survival Gardening
Organic Container Gardening - Simple and Easy Ways to Grow Vegetables and Flowers in Pots
Organic Vegetable Cultivation Table
Over Wintering Chilli Pepper Plants
pH preferences of food crops
Review: Food4Wealth by Jonathan White
Vegetable Crops in alphabetical order by name
Why I Recommend Vegetable Container Gardening
How to grow organic Asparagus
How to grow organic Aubergines
How to grow organic Beetroot
How to grow organic Broad beans
How to grow organic Broccoli
How to grow organic Brussels sprouts
How to grow organic Cabbage
How to grow organic Calabrese
How to grow organic Carrot
How to grow organic Cauliflower
How to grow organic Celeriac
How to grow organic Celery
How to grow organic Celtuce
How to grow organic Chinese broccoli
How to grow organic Chinese cabbage
How to grow organic Chicory
How to grow organic Corn
How to grow organic Cucumbers and Gherkins
How to grow organic Endive
How to grow organic Florence fennel
How to grow organic French beans
How to grow organic Garlic
How to grow organic Globe artichokes
How to grow organic Jerusalem artichokes
How to grow organic Kale and borecole
How to grow organic Kohl rabi
How to grow organic Komatsuna
How to grow organic Land cress
How to grow organic Leaf beet
How to grow organic Leeks
How to grow organic Lettuce
How to grow organic Mizuna
How to grow organic Mustard greens
How to grow organic New Zealand spinach
How to grow organic Onions
How to grow organic Parsnips and Hamburg Parsley
How to grow organic Peas
How to grow organic Peppers (hot and sweet)
How to grow organic Potatoes
How to grow organic Radishes
How to grow organic Rocket
How to grow organic Runner beans
How to grow organic Salad onions
How to grow organic Salsify, Scorzonera and Scolymus
How to grow organic Seakale
How to grow organic Shallots
How to grow organic Spinach
How to grow organic Squash
How to grow organic Swede
How to grow organic Texsel greens
How to grow organic Tomatoes
How to grow organic Turnips
Visit our Forum
We support this site using affiliate marketing as a way to earn revenue. All the ads, and many of the links mentioning other products, services, or websites are special links that earn us a commission when you use or pay for their product/service.
Please do not use our site if this alarms you.
How to grow organic Runner beans
by Frann Leach
Runner beans were originally brought to the UK for use as an ornamental
Runner beans (Pole beans)
Family: Leguminosae (Group 7)
If you are growing a dwarf type, use the method for French beans
Did you know that runner beans were brought to the UK as an ornamental? You need to live in the Southern part of the country to grow them, but if you are, they are well worth growing.
Because they like very fertile soil and plenty of moisture around the roots, runners are traditionally grown in a previously prepared trench 60cm (2') wide x 20cm (8") deep, dug in Autumn and filled with the vegetable waste from the winter kitchen, or whatever organic matter is available. Ideal pH is 6-7.
The best site is warm and sheltered. As most are climbers, runners are often grown up a fence, cane wigwam or net supported on a bamboo or wooden frame (plastic supports are not suitable, as beans will not grip plastic-coated netting etc.).
Usually grown in double rows 60cm (2') apart, with plants 15cm (6") apart in the rows. Highest yield is reached at a density of 20 plants/sq metre (2 plants/sq ft).
Support methods: wigwams made of bamboo canes (up to 8 per wigwam), double rows of 250cm (8') bamboo (of which 30cm (1') is pushed into the ground). Canes should be spaced at a maximum of 60cm (2') apart in the row. Alternate plants may be grown up string held down by wire eyelets or e.g. tent pegs, tied to the cross piece. Guy ropes may be needed to give additional support. Also, as this method provides ideal perches for birds, bird scarers will be needed (or a cat).
Dwarf varieties require no support, but are less productive. The tall varieties may be pinched out at 45cm (18") and kept short. Again, crops will be reduced, and likely to get rather dirty, especially in wet weather.
|If you are going to grow your beans in a bed or up a wigwam, it is best to prepare the ground in advance: if possible, dig the hole in autumn and put all the compostable material you can find over the winter into it (shredded newspaper, vegetable peel, annual weeds, bought in manure), then fill it in again just before sowing. Erect your support framework before sowing the seed.
Sow late April under cloches, or mid-May to early June direct. Push one seed into the ground to about 5cm (2") deep a little to one side of the support. Sow another seed the same distance from the support on the other side. If you put a sweet pea seed into the same hole as each bean, you will get a decorative bonus which will also be attractive to bees. Attracting more bees will usually increase the set of the crop by pollinating the flowers, although some varieties of runner bean are self-pollinating. Continue in this way, sowing two beans (and sweet peas), one either side of each support.
Water well, and make sure the ground is kept reasonably moist until most of the plants are showing. Check the area every few days until you can clearly tell the beans and sweet peas from the weeds. Help the beans and peas to find their supports (tie young plants loosely to the bamboo, after which they will climb naturally), and remove all the weeds once or twice a week. Seed can also be started off in pots indoors in early May and transplanted at the end of May.
Unless the weather is extremely dry, there is no need to water again until the first green flower buds appear, and again when they are fully open. From then on water at a rate of 10 litres (2 gallons) per square yard/metre twice a week. Mulch well after watering to keep the roots moist.
Harvest July-October when pods reach 15-20cm (6-8"), but before the beans start to swell for best yield. Cut the beans off by the stalk, just above the tip of the bean. Do not pull the beans off, or you will damage the plants. Harvest every day or two: once beans are allowed to mature, flower production will stop. Also, older beans are stringy and unpalatable, particularly in heritage varieties (although the beans themselves will be tasty, even after the pods are impossible to eat). Runner beans also dry well and make a very tasty addition to soups and stews in winter months (see cooking page for how to use dried beans).
|Painted Lady||Heritage||Good for screening, decorative, purple seeds|
|Polestar||Stringless||Heavy yields, top quality|
|Desirée||Stringless||White seeds, good for freezing|
|Lady Di||Stringless||My favourite, long slender pods|
|Red Rum||Stringless||Recommended by Bob Flowerdew for enormous (5x) yields|
|Hammonds Dwarf Scarlet||Dwarf||Early, crops well|
|Pickwick||Dwarf||Strong, bushy plants|