How to grow Runner Beans in the Garden
One of the most popular Plants in the Veggie Patch
You could say a Vegetable Garden is not the same without Runner Beans. Walk past any Allotment and they're probably the first things you spot!
The two favourite ways to grow them are either using the long A-Frame system or the Wigwam method (see right).
Either way the poles should be at least 6 feet high (buy 8 feet canes and sink 2 feet into the soil).
In fact all Growers will tell you that given half the chance they could easily grow half that height again. If the poles are not tall enough, the plants will get very top heavy as they start to grow horizontally along the tops.
How much space between the poles is a very much discussed subject, I go with 1 feet apart and that's always worked well.
The space between the rows should be a minimum of 2 feet.
Soil PreparationMost Gardeners like to dig a trench in winter where they are going to be grown then throwing well rotted compost in to it.
Some say to dig the holes where you're going to plant them out and place torn newspaper or small bits of cardboard in for water retention.
All in all they just need well composted soil or manure. If the soil is acid, then some Ground Chalk or hydrated Lime can be added.
Sowing and Planting outBy far the best method is to start Runner Beans off indoors. Sow one per 4" pot around mid to end of April and plant out at the end of May.
If sown outdoors, do so late May.
CultivationOnce the Runners have started upwards, to avoid sagging, gently tie them to the pole. As soon as they've educated themselves to climb on their own, no more support is usually required.
If they reach the tops of the Poles you can pinch them off at the top which will encourage side shoots.
All too often, after they've finished you'll notice that some have stretched out as far as two poles away from their root!
Runner Beans enjoy water!
HarvestingThis is a 'as and when' situation, pick them at will as soon as they appear good enough.
Pests and DiseasesBlackfly is the most troublesome invader. To deter them you can sow some Marigolds along the side, to re-route the Blackfly you can have lot's of Naturtiums growing nearby (they love them). A soapy solution using Washing Up Liquid can be sprayed on the Plants or as I do and that's to reguralily hose them off.
To make them more attractive to the eye try growing some Sweet Peas amongst them, lovely smell after the Rain!
Dates and times given may vary by Region and on the Variety chosen to grow. Please check the Seed Packets for individual guides.