If you want to grow something truly productive, then give runner beans a try. When grown correctly, you will be picking pods all summer long.
Most runner beans will grow tall, but some bush varieties are available that are suitable for growing in pots.
If birds are a problem in your garden then try white-flowered varieties as these seem to interest the birds less.
Here are some recommendations:
You can start seeds off in early spring indoors or under cover in a greenhouse.
They are large seeds, so they cant be sown into tiny modules. I like to use a large root trainer, link below.
Some people will start them in old toilet roll tubes.
Runner beans are ravenous plants.
Because of this, lots of people like to dig in the area where they are going to grow.
I don’t do this, one because I don’t have a ready supply of manure, and one because I have found my plants don’t need it.
Instead, I like to mulch them with homemade compost in summer as they are growing.
This has the added benefit of helping to keep the moisture in. More on that later.
As I mentioned earlier, runner beans are hungry plants.
Because of this, you are well advised to feed them regularly if you want to maximise your harvest.
I like to use a general organic feed that you dilute in your watering can.
I will pop a link to the feed I use below.
- All new natural formula
- Not just your average NPK liquid fertilizer
- Trialled and tested
- Soil Association Approved
- By-product of green energy
- Contains macronutrients and beneficial microbes.
- Does smell a little
Runner Bean Trench
The old-school allotmenters’ method of growing runner beans is to do something called a runner bean trench.
This is a trench that is dug out when your runner beans will grow.
You then fill it with tonnes of food scraps and other compostable materials, before covering it back over with soil.
All the food scraps will break down as the beans grow, providing them with lots of food.
This works really well, the reason I don’t do it is that it is a lot of effort, and I don’t like runner beans enough to justify that effort!
As well as being hungry, runner beans are also thirsty.
Water them well throughout summer and don’t let them dry out.
A good mulch around the base of the plants, I use compost, helps prevent them from drying out quite so fast.
You can harvest the beans by pulling them straight off the plant, but I find it easier to use fruit snips and cut them off.
This way, you reduce the chances of you damaging the plant.
You can find the snips on my store at the link below!