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Articles about Vegetable Crops for the Garden

  Advantages of Container Vegetable Gardens
  Best Vegetable Crops for Containers
  Brandywine Tomatoes - Get the Most From This Heirloom Variety
  Choosing a Site For Your Home Vegetable Garden
  Container Vegetable Gardening Tips
  Container Vegetable Gardens
  Double Your Crops
  Getting Children Interested in Growing Vegetables
  Grow Your Own Salad
  Growing Tomatoes in Pots
  Growing Vegetable Plants Becomes More Than Just A Hobby
  How to Grow a Vegetable Garden
  Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening Ideas
  Indoor Vegetable Gardening How to Tips
  Learning About Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening
  List of vegetable crops by difficulty
  Mushroom Growing in Odd Unused Spaces
  Non Hybrid Seeds For Survival Gardening
  Organic Container Gardening - Simple and Easy Ways to Grow Vegetables and Flowers in Pots
  Organic Vegetable Cultivation Table
  Over Wintering Chilli Pepper Plants
  pH preferences of food crops
  Planning your Container Crops
  Planting Tomatoes Upside Down
  Potato Container Garden Tips
  Preparing a Vegetable Garden
  Review: Food4Wealth by Jonathan White
  Vegetable Container Garden Tips
  Vegetable Crops in alphabetical order by name
  Why I Recommend Vegetable Container Gardening
  Why Vegetable Container Gardening is Getting More Popular Today Than Ever
  How to grow organic Asparagus
  How to grow organic Aubergines
  How to grow organic Beetroot
  How to grow organic Broad beans
  How to grow organic Broccoli
  How to grow organic Brussels sprouts
  How to grow organic Cabbage
  How to grow organic Calabrese
  How to grow organic Carrot
  How to grow organic Cauliflower
  How to grow organic Celeriac
  How to grow organic Celery
  How to grow organic Celtuce
  How to grow organic Chinese broccoli
  How to grow organic Chinese cabbage
  How to grow organic Chicory
  How to grow organic Corn
  How to grow organic Cucumbers and Gherkins
  How to grow organic Endive
  How to grow organic Florence fennel
  How to grow organic French beans
  How to grow organic Garlic
  How to grow organic Globe artichokes
  How to grow organic Jerusalem artichokes
  How to grow organic Kale and borecole
  How to grow organic Kohl rabi
  How to grow organic Komatsuna
  How to grow organic Land cress
  How to grow organic Leaf beet
  How to grow organic Leeks
  How to grow organic Lettuce
  How to grow organic Mizuna
  How to grow organic Mustard greens
  How to grow organic New Zealand spinach
  How to grow organic Onions
  How to grow organic Parsnips and Hamburg Parsley
  How to grow organic Peas
  How to grow organic Peppers (hot and sweet)
  How to grow organic Potatoes
  How to grow organic Radishes
  How to grow organic Rocket
  How to grow organic Runner beans
  How to grow organic Salad onions
  How to grow organic Salsify, Scorzonera and Scolymus
  How to grow organic Seakale
  How to grow organic Shallots
  How to grow organic Spinach
  How to grow organic Squash
  How to grow organic Swede
  How to grow organic Texsel greens
  How to grow organic Tomatoes
  How to grow organic Turnips




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Organic Gardening:


How to grow organic Runner beans


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Runner beans
Runner beans were originally brought to the UK for use as an ornamental

Runner beans (Pole beans)

Phaseolus coccineus

Family: Leguminosae (Group 7)

If you are growing a dwarf type, use the method for French beans

Did you know that runner beans were brought to the UK as an ornamental? You need to live in the Southern part of the country to grow them, but if you are, they are well worth growing.

Because they like very fertile soil and plenty of moisture around the roots, runners are traditionally grown in a previously prepared trench 60cm (2') wide x 20cm (8") deep, dug in Autumn and filled with the vegetable waste from the winter kitchen, or whatever organic matter is available. Ideal pH is 6-7.

The best site is warm and sheltered. As most are climbers, runners are often grown up a fence, cane wigwam or net supported on a bamboo or wooden frame (plastic supports are not suitable, as beans will not grip plastic-coated netting etc.).

Usually grown in double rows 60cm (2') apart, with plants 15cm (6") apart in the rows. Highest yield is reached at a density of 20 plants/sq metre (2 plants/sq ft).

Support methods: wigwams made of bamboo canes (up to 8 per wigwam), double rows of 250cm (8') bamboo (of which 30cm (1') is pushed into the ground). Canes should be spaced at a maximum of 60cm (2') apart in the row. Alternate plants may be grown up string held down by wire eyelets or e.g. tent pegs, tied to the cross piece. Guy ropes may be needed to give additional support. Also, as this method provides ideal perches for birds, bird scarers will be needed (or a cat).

Dwarf varieties require no support, but are less productive. The tall varieties may be pinched out at 45cm (18") and kept short. Again, crops will be reduced, and likely to get rather dirty, especially in wet weather.

Tools list
Tools list
If you are going to grow your beans in a bed or up a wigwam, it is best to prepare the ground in advance: if possible, dig the hole in autumn and put all the compostable material you can find over the winter into it (shredded newspaper, vegetable peel, annual weeds, bought in manure), then fill it in again just before sowing. Erect your support framework before sowing the seed.

Sow late April under cloches, or mid-May to early June direct. Push one seed into the ground to about 5cm (2") deep a little to one side of the support. Sow another seed the same distance from the support on the other side. If you put a sweet pea seed into the same hole as each bean, you will get a decorative bonus which will also be attractive to bees. Attracting more bees will usually increase the set of the crop by pollinating the flowers, although some varieties of runner bean are self-pollinating. Continue in this way, sowing two beans (and sweet peas), one either side of each support.

Water well, and make sure the ground is kept reasonably moist until most of the plants are showing. Check the area every few days until you can clearly tell the beans and sweet peas from the weeds. Help the beans and peas to find their supports (tie young plants loosely to the bamboo, after which they will climb naturally), and remove all the weeds once or twice a week. Seed can also be started off in pots indoors in early May and transplanted at the end of May.

Unless the weather is extremely dry, there is no need to water again until the first green flower buds appear, and again when they are fully open. From then on water at a rate of 10 litres (2 gallons) per square yard/metre twice a week. Mulch well after watering to keep the roots moist.

Harvest July-October when pods reach 15-20cm (6-8"), but before the beans start to swell for best yield. Cut the beans off by the stalk, just above the tip of the bean. Do not pull the beans off, or you will damage the plants. Harvest every day or two: once beans are allowed to mature, flower production will stop. Also, older beans are stringy and unpalatable, particularly in heritage varieties (although the beans themselves will be tasty, even after the pods are impossible to eat). Runner beans also dry well and make a very tasty addition to soups and stews in winter months (see cooking page for how to use dried beans).

Recommended varieties

Painted Lady Heritage Good for screening, decorative, purple seeds
Polestar Stringless Heavy yields, top quality
Desirée Stringless White seeds, good for freezing
Lady Di Stringless My favourite, long slender pods
Red Rum Stringless Recommended by Bob Flowerdew for enormous (5x) yields
Hammonds Dwarf Scarlet Dwarf Early, crops well
Pickwick Dwarf Strong, bushy plants




Article ©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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