Runner Beans

WHEN TO SOW
April to June

WHERE TO SOW
Early sowings in individual pots in glasshouse or cold frame.
In a sheltered spot to encourage pollinating insects. They grow well in partial shade.
Put supports in place before you sow the seed, about 2.2metres high should be sufficient.
A trench filled with water retaining material, such as manure, garden compost or shredded newspaper, will help cut down on watering later.
To germinate the seed needs a minimum temperature of 10*C, this makes early sowing outside risky. Seedlings are also vulnerable to soil pests and diseases.
Sow seeds individually in 7cm pots and plant out after the last likely frost.

WHAT TO DO NEXT
Glasshouse seedlings should be gradually hardened off before planting outside in late May to the spacing's above with a support cane at each planting station. Reduce outside sowings to single plants. Circular plantings can be made with canes joined at the centre to form a wigwam.
Plants should be put in the ground about 15 cm apart in single rows, double rows about 60 cm apart.
Remember plants wind so provide a bean netting, canes of string so the plant can scramble up. Plants wind anti-clockwise.
Runner beans need ample soil moisture, so give them a thorough soaking once a week in hot spells.

MATURITY
July onwards

HARVESTING
Pick beans as small as you can. Do not leave the beans on the plant after they reach 25cm as they will be tough.
If there are too many to eat freeze or compost the excess to encourage further fruiting.

HANDY TIP
Always crop the Beans regularly, even if not required, keep picking or the pods left will reduce the new growth and shorten the season.
Scarlet flowered varieties benefit in their pod setting if sprayed regularly with a fine water mist to aid pollination.

USEFUL TIP
Once the plant has grown to the top of the support pinch out the tips to encourage side shoots.

ACHIEVEMENT
Popular old variety. Fine flavoured long straight beans produced in abundance.

CZAR
One of the oldest and finest varieties of white-flowered runner bean. Long, tender beans are produced over a long period. If allowed to dry it can be harvested as ‘butter’ beans.

ENORMA
An established favourite that produces good yields of tasty long, straight, smooth pods that can grow up to 50cm (20in) long, popular for exhibition.

HESTIA Height 30-45cm
A new dwarf variety, which is suitable for containers, open planting and tubs. It produces 18-20cm (7-8”) string less, early runner beans, with beautiful red and white flowers.

KELVEDON MARVEL
Earliest runner beans. Heavy crops of good quality.

LADY DI
A string less variety, much improved quality and yield over older types, rapidly gaining favour.

LIBERTY
This superior quality runner bean produces outstanding crops, suitable for exhibition. The beans are very long, and tasty with smooth thick tender flesh and stunning red flowers.

PAINTED LADY
Old variety producing top quality beans, with the added bonus of striking red and white flowers. Ideal for a splash of colour against a wall or fence.

PICKWICK Height 45 - 60cm
A very productive true dwarf runner bean. A vast improvement over the older varieties. Beans are string less, if picked at about 20cm (8") long. Frequent harvesting is recommended. Can be grown in grow-bags or containers.

RED FLAME
An early maturing variety, which is extremely high yielding. Produces fine quality, long 37cm (15”), smooth and tender pods with a delicious flavour.

SCARLET EMPEROR
Early variety first introduced during the early 1900’s. Still considered by many to be the best flavoured bean available.

STREAMLINE
Pods of superfine quality, growing in large clusters.

SUNBRIGHT
A new, late harvesting variety for a good crop in October. High yielding. The stunning golden leaves and bright flowers are decorative enough to incorporate into any flower border or kitchen garden.

WHITE LADY
Superb white flowered bean. Pods are fleshy, smooth and produced in abundance over a long period.