Growing Runner Beans
Either sow direct from June to July or start in pots. Runner beans produce long roots and will benefit from being in ‘root trainer’ pots. Once pot bound transplant out one or two beans per pole. Stakes should be long, 2m +, and arranged in a tent formation or cone. If time prepare a trench or pit layering wet newspaper at the bottom. Runner beans grow quickly and therefore require a good reservoir of water.
The bare ground between the plants will quickly fill with weeds so either remember to hoe regularly or sow a green manure.
Pick the pods when they are small although leave some to grow large towards the end of the season for next years’ seeds and for using the beans in stews in the winter months.
Eating Runner Beans
Cooked and chilled they are excellent in salads and many herbs as well as garlic compliment them. Feta or similar cheese with olive oil sprinkled over the beans are a meal in themselves.
The beans can be used as an alternative for pasta and mixed with fresh tomato sauce, herbs, nuts and again oil, try rape seed for a change, is a simple but filling vegan meal.
Preserving cannot be simpler, blanch, chill and freeze. Alternatively bottled with oil and chilli peppers and raw garlic makes an excellent condiment for colder days. Lemon and lime juice work really well with runner beans as does sea salt and ground black pepper.
1 June 2016