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
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
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
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
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.