Runner Beans all point their origins to South America. All can have a dwarf or climbing growing habit with dwarf variety’s height being no more than 50cm but climbers can reach as far as 3 metres.
Here's our guide to growing Runner Beans:
How, Where & When to Grow Runner Beans
Spring varieties, such as Runner Beans, are sown in February/March or even as late as early May. Start seeds under protection in 9cm pots or sow direct outdoors after all signs of frost have past. Germination takes about 21 days. They prefer a well-drained soil with organic matter dug in the autumn as well as a sunny sheltered position.
An alternative way to grow beans is as part of what's known as the '3 sisters'. An introduction to the 3 sisters, these are climbing beans, pumpkins/squash and corn which when grown together form an interconnected plant guild. The beans add nitrogen to the soil for the pumpkins/ squash and anchor the corn, protecting it from winds. The corn acts as a living trellis for the beans to climb, the pumpkins or squash keep the other plants roots cool and moist acting as a living mulch. A very space efficient approach!
Support climbing variety and space them 20–30cm apart with dwarf varieties supported with twigs with spacing to 15cm apart.
Thin to keep the strongest seedling when just large enough. They will require support as they grow up to 2m high either use canes and/or train over netting. 'Pinch out' the top growth when they have reached the required height and they will start putting all their energy into producing beans.
Harvesting Runner Beans
Runner beans should be harvested when pods are about 10-15cm; variety dependent. After harvesting put the stalks on the compost heap and leave the roots in the ground to decompose. They are legumes, and capture their own nitrogen in their root nodules, thereby providing a free and natural boost to your soil!
Beans are an excellent vegetable source of protein and fibre. This may be a winning combination for weight loss. Broad beans are also rich in both folate and B vitamins, which we need for nerve and blood cell development, cognitive function and energy.
Beans offer so much more to a dish than just boiling or steaming them. You could try following how the Italians use beans in a low calorie Risotto Verde, try a more unusual way to have beans on toast and try smashed beans on toast for a healthy alternative, or for a light summer meal try a bean and fennel salad…sow many choices!
If you're thinking of sowing other vegetable and herb seeds, discover more of our growing guides.
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