The Runner Beans have produced a good harvest again. Perhaps not quite as good as last year, when the damp Summer really suited them, but good nonetheless. This tiny harvest though is the very last one of the year:
How can I be sure it's the last? Here's how:
Yes, I have cut the plants down. I wanted to do this before we get any really bad Autumn gales, which would probably knock the plants and their support system right over. It's also a job best done on a dry day! Handling the huge amounts of leaves and stalks that needed removing would not be enjoyable in the wet.
Taking down the Runners means that the two wigwams of beans behind them (one of "Cobra" and one of "Veitch's") will get a lot more light.
The ones in the picture above are the "Veitch's" ones. It's not a variety I have grown before, but they seem to be very slow growers, and it will be touch-and-go whether they mature before frost comes along. I suppose I could have picked them for their pods (they look like something mid-way between a runner and a French bean), but I really grew them for shelling.
Although I removed the poles from the Runners, along with most of their foliage, I have left the bases of the plants in place in order to get maximum value from the nitrogen-fixing qualities of their roots. And in accordance with my principle of making maximum use of space I have planted in between them a double row of Radicchio seedlings.
Over the last few weeks I have stuck a few Radicchio seedlings in wherever a space has appeared, so hopefully some of them will do OK, even though none of them are ideally situated. In theory, the Runner Bean is a perennial, so I suppose I could leave those plants in place and have them re-grow next year, but I suspect that they wouldn't survive any but the mildest of UK Winters, and even then they probably wouldn't do so well in their second year. I shall definitely be starting again from scratch next year.