Runner beans are a grower’s favourite. They’re ideal for smaller plots because using the vertical space means you get much more productivity from a small area of ground. They only have a short, late-summer season - so make the most of them while they’re here!Sow and grow
We raise about 300 runner bean plants from seed in late April and transplant them to the field in mid-May. We grow them for their 'main crop' period of August and September, but it’s possible to sow and plant earlier, and later, to extend the season through July and October. If the autumn weather is good, they can carry on producing until the first frosts finish them.
We plant through biodegradable corn starch 'bio-mulch' film (to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture), and we under-sow the rest of the ground around them with clover. The beans need a sheltered site, out of the wind, fairly rich soil and lots of watering. It’s not hard to spot our runners, all lush and lined up by The Veg Shed in Home Field, supported by bamboo cane 'pyramids’. The varieties we use are Enorma and Lady Di, which have red flowers. Pollinating insects, especially bees, love the flowers!
Pick your rows
We've scaled back our bean production over the years to an amount we know will be manageable to pick and sell. Harvesting takes lots of time and labour, particularly in late August when they hit their peak. They need picking three or four times a week. This stimulates the growth of the next lot of beans. This year we’ve an excellent crop, and our best yield ever!