|Runner Beans. Variety: Lady Di|
|Min germination temp:||16°C (61°F)|
|Max germination temp:||26°C (79°F)|
|Germination time:||9 days|
|Time to transplanting:||+7 days|
|Time to harvesting:||+43 days|
|Ideal pH range:||6.0 - 6.8|
|Sow depth:||5cm (2in)|
|Sow spacing:||30cm (12in)|
The runner bean or scarlet runner is an easy-to-grow plant ideal for beginners. They often receive a bad reputation possibly due to tough shop-bought ones, but home-grown runner beans can be picked when they are just ready and are a delicious and attractive addition to any vegetable plot. Their red or white flowers add a splash of colour and as one of the legumes they take nitrogen from the air and fix it in their roots, ideal for leafy, nitrogen-loving, brassicas to follow.
|Sowing Time (Indoors)|
|Sowing Time (Outdoors)|
Runner beans should be grown in a warm sunny spot, although they will tolerate partial shade. Try and choose a site with some wind protect or they will suffer as a result of their height. Due to the thickness of their foliage; runner beans can cast a long, dense shadow over a large portion of your plot, be mindful which plants will be shaded by them as not all plants will are suited to such conditions.
Work plenty of organic matter into the site in February or March, this will help the soil retain plenty of water that the beans will require. Avoid conditioning the soil with any nitrogen substitutes as legumes fix nitrogen from the air into nodules in their roots. Additional nitrogen will cause excess leafy growth.
Since runner beans will be damaged by frost you should not sow outdoors until one week before the last frost date in late April/early May.
To get a full season's growth out of the beans you will benefit from growing in modules indoors or under protection. Sow two beans in each module, 5cm (2in) deep. Only retain the stronger of the two for transplanting. Seedlings are ready to transplant when they are 8cm (3in) tall.
Dig a hole or drill 5cm (2in) deep. If planting in rows, leave 1.5m (5ft) between rows or expected plant height. Sow beans 15cm (6in) apart.
Transplant indoor or outdoor seedlings to a final spacing of 30cm (1ft) about 3 weeks after sowing.
Runner beans will require supports to grow up. The most common approach is to build a wigwam by pushing four or five 2m (6ft-6in) canes into the ground with one or two beans at the base of each and tying their tops together. This can also be used for container-grown beans. For row-sown beans: push two canes into the ground between two rows, one next to each row, and tie their tops together. Continue down the row at your chosen spacing and then tie a horizontal cane across the join of each pair.
Water and weed your beans regularly and feed if necessary. You may wish to apply a mulch of organic material around the plants which will secure more moisture in the soil and suppress weeds as well as leeching nutrients into the soil. Pinch out the growing tips when they are 15cm (6in) from the top of their supports. The plants will continue to grow upwards for a short period afterwards.
You can begin harvesting runner beans from July. Leaving pods on the plants too long will result in stringy, inedible beans. Pick when they are 15-20cm (6-8in) long and before the beans inside begin to swell. Cropping regularly will ensure the plants continue flowering and producing pods for up-to 8 weeks longer.
- Full troubles list: Bean troubles