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runner2-2012Eating the first fresh Runner beans is a real treat for me I think they are wonderful, their long green pods and the immature beans inside are a tasty vegetable and one I look forward to every summer. Left to mature the pods become fibrous and the beans swell to become a food source as well, great in winter stews and soups. The pods grow in heavy clumps on stems all the way along the plant and need picking regularly. The tasty bean pods cook easily and freeze well. As the plants grow quickly, runner beans are a great choice if you want to get your children involved in growing their own food.

Have a look across any allotment space and you’ll see rows of poles or wigwams for runner beans, the plants cannot support themselves so need a structure to twine around. They climb to an astonishing height and benefit from regular picking to produce an abundant crop. If you only have a little space they do grow successfully in pots. Their delightful little flowers, which are usually a lovely warm red, are very abundant and attractive so don’t hide your beans at the back of the plot where they can’t be seen, they can be used to add height and colour to your flower border. You don’t need a veg patch for these.

Timings for the best crop

  • Start your seeds off between April and June, for an early crop grow the seeds indoors.
  • April and early May seedlings will need to be hardened off before you plant them out in June.
  • Your crop should be ready to start harvesting between August and October
  • The first frosts will kill off your plants so don't plan fresh beans for Christmas day

Time to enjoy runner beans!