Growing Runner Beans
Useful Tips On Growing Runner Beans
If you always thought that growing runner beans might be fun, now is the time to give it a try. For those of you who might be asking what a runner bean is, the answer is a green bean. In the United States this vegetable is known as a pole bean but in the United Kingdom, it is known as a runner bean.
Growing runner beans is pretty straightforward. It doesn’t matter if you live in a warm climate or a cold one, anyone can grow runner beans. The first thing to do is to put your supports in the ground. Pole beans, as the name denotes, grow up poles for support. You can use several different kinds of poles.
A maypole is when you have a central pole with strings attached to the top. The strings are anchored to the ground in a circle around the pole. This is similar to the wigwam or teepee method, where bean poles are all set in a circle with the top ends sloping to a center point where all of the tops are tied together. The structure looks like a teepee. In the most popular method, a single pole is place in the ground and the beans are planted around it. You can also plant your green beans in-between rows of tall vegetables, such as corn, and they can grow up against the cornstalks.
Growing runner beans requires preparing the soil with natural matter, such as compost. Well-drained soil is preferable. You do not need to add nitrogen to the soil. A fish emulsion is a food way to give the plants the nutrients they need to grow.
Plant green runner beans in spots where they can benefit from partial shade. Full sun will be a little too much for the plant. It does not excel in very hot conditions. If the summer is hot and/or dry you will want to hand water in-between periods of rain or use a soaker hose. If you don’t, you will come out every day to beans that will look dry and shriveled.
Keep your runner beans mulched as this is not only good for keeping out weeds, it also helps the soil retain moisture. Wait until all danger of frost is past before putting your bean seeds in the soil. The temperatures need to get to the sixties during the day. You can grow seedlings inside and then transplant outside but very few gardeners use this method. Runner beans have such a short growing season that they will provide a good crop no matter when you plant them in the spring.
You can shade the soil around green beans by planting gourds or squash which will cast a shadow across the ground. Pay particular attention to the beans when they are flowering. This is a critical time that will affect production. Make sure they are well-watered. When the runner beans reach the top height of the poles, you can stop stem growth by pinching off the new growth regularly. This will cause the plant to put all of its energy into producing beans.
Once the bean harvest begins, pick them regularly so that you can have beans for several weeks. If the beans get too large and form seeds inside, the production of new beans will stop.
Growing runner beans in great quantity means that you can either can or freeze them for the winter. They are very tasty and keep well either way. You will need a pressure canner to can them as green beans are not acidic enough to be canned safely with a boiling water bath canner. Beans are prolific and you can store enough to get through most of the winter without too much effort.