Category Archives: Plant focus

5 Easy Steps to Grow Runner Beans

Woman using a hat to collect Runner Bean 'Wisley Magic' - © GAP Photos

Woman using a hat to collect Runner Bean ‘Wisley Magic’ – © GAP Photos

Phaseolus coccineus, or Runner Beans, as they are more commonly known, are a regular feature of many vegetable gardens. Here are five steps to grow these high yielding and easy to grow climbing beans.

1. Sowing the seeds

Planting runner bean seeds - © GAP Photos/FhF Greenmedia

Planting runner bean seeds – © GAP Photos/FhF Greenmedia

As the plants are tender, it is best to wait for late spring or early summer if you are sowing directly in the ground. If you are keen to get started, sow in large pots, deep seed-module trays or root trainers in mid spring, and keep in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill until it is time to plant them out.

2. Create the support

Securing final wall canes to roof section with twine - © GAP Photos

Securing final wall canes to roof section with twine – © GAP Photos

The sight of climbing beans twirling themselves around bamboo canes is a lovely sight in summer. You can either make a simple bamboo cane wigwam, which also looks very ornamental. Or you can be a bit more adventurous and create a more elaborate framework. When you plant your beans out, do loosely tie the beans to the supports to give them a helping hand, and give each plant its own cane.

3. Water and feed

Adding Blood, Fish and Bone feed to beans - © GAP Photos

Adding Blood, Fish and Bone feed to beans – © GAP Photos

Make sure to keep your young plants well-watered, especially during hot weather. It is often advisable to water in the evening so that the moisture does not evaporate from the soil surface during the day before it can reach the plant’s roots. Use organic feeds such as blood, fish and bone to promote strong growth.

4. Watch out for pests


Like most plants, runner beans do attract pests which can do damage to your plants. You can deter birds by hanging cds up in the framework. The reflective surface and movement spook them so they keep away. Be sure to protect young plants from slug damage. Runner beans are also vulnerable to infestation from pests such as blackfly. You can either squash the pests with your fingers when you see them, or attract their natural enemies such as ladybirds to come and feed on them. You can also buy various sprays to keep bugs in check, but make sure they are organic and safe to use with vegetables.

5. Attract pollinators to ensure good pollination and higher harvests

Flowers and vegetables in raised beds including, Marigolds, Lettuce, Sweet peas and Runner Beans - © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

Flowers and vegetables in raised beds including, Marigolds, Lettuce, Sweet peas and Runner Beans – © GAP Photos/Gary Smith

Runner beans rely on pollinating insects such as bees. Without their presence, flowers are not pollinated and pod formation is unlikely to occur. Therefore, why not plant lots of beneficial plants which naturally attract pollinators around your runner bean plant supports in a sunny location for a mutually advantageous pairing.

Succulents!

Mixed succulents in three metal pots displayed in metal tray with gravel surrounded by seaside items - © GAP Photos

Mixed succulents in three metal pots displayed in metal tray with gravel surrounded by seaside items – © GAP Photos

If you are on Instagram, you may be familiar with a new succulent trend which is gaining lots of popularity. It even has its own hashtag #succiepotinapot . Here at GAP we have had lots of fun recreating this design style and we’re really excited to share the results.


All you need are your succulents, succulent compost, gravel for topdressing and two different sized pots that complement each other. You can create all kinds of different styles; the possibilities are endless. Why not create a sea-side theme with galvanised containers, shells and driftwood, or more traditional look with terracotta? We also suggest using a dark gravel or topdressing to really make your succulents pop.

These containers will last for ages as they are, as long as they are kept in the right conditions. Remember that many succulents are tender, so need to be kept protected from colder temperatures. They also should be sheltered from the rain. A sunny porch or sheltered patio are ideal locations for these pots in the warmer months.

Have fun creating!

Microgreens

Miniature pots with microgreen on windsill - © GAP Photos

Miniature pots with microgreen on windsill – © GAP Photos

While growing vegetables and fruit from your garden is particularly rewarding, it isn’t always practical, especially if you don’t have an outdoor space of your own. However, if you have a sunny windowsill, why not try growing microgreens? Harvesting the baby leaves of many vegetable crops is an excellent way to add flavoursome garnishes to your dishes and get all the nutrients from the plants as well, and early spring is the perfect time to get started.


Most seeds will germinate efficiently in containers on warm windowsills – a handy place to harvest from too. Wait until the first true leaves start to appear and then just snip from the base of the stem for a beautiful and nutritious addition to a wide variety of meals. We recommend growing herbs such as sorrel and basil, and salad crops such as rocket and mustard. The fresh young leaves of pea shoots and beetroot also pack lots of flavour and texture.