I have 3 types of Runner bean as well as some climbing French beans ("Cobra"), some Borlotti, some of the famous "Cherokee Trail Of Tears", and even some highly attractive "Tunny" shelling beans (which are pink and white when mature). In the recent spell of very warm weather they have grown very rapidly and have reached the planting stage.
I erected my bean support system up at the Courtmoor plot about ten days ago, so it was ready and waiting:
Back in my own garden it was a bit more of a rush. The bed in which my beans will be growing still had the Purple Sprouting Broccoli in it - I had left it to flower after the crop had come to an end. Over the Bank Holiday weekend I removed the PSB, added some homemade compost to the bed and erected my beanpoles. Since the weather has been so hot and dry for several days, I also gave the soil a good soaking of water in order to get the bean plants off to a good start.
These beanpoles are the 9-foot Hazel rods, about which I have written previously. You'll note that I have gone for the traditional "A-shape" configuration, as opposed to the "X-shape" I have used up at Courtmoor.
You may recall that I was anxious about whether any of the Runner beans I saved from the plot last Autumn (now nicknamed "Jean's beans") would germinate. Well, several of them did!
They are (unsurprisingly) not strong-looking beans, especially when compared with the ones I saved from my own plants. Mine were "Scarlet Emperor". The real difference is that mine were saved from selected fully mature pods, harvested at the right time, not just the few straggly "tag ends" left when clearing away the plants after they had been killed by the frost! Still, in view of my desire to keep this variety going, I'm happy with what I've got.
|"Jean's Beans" at left, my "Scarlet Emperor" at right|
Here are some of my beans going into one of the raised beds in my home garden. These ones are Runner beans "Scarlet Emperor" that I saved from last year's crop. You can see that they have already developed some nice strong roots.
In this raised bed I have erected 6 pairs of beanpoles, and 4 pairs are now populated with one Runner Bean plant per cane, like this.
The other 2 pairs of canes have been planted-up with 2 Borlotti "Firetongue" each, like this:
The Runners grow a lot bigger and have a lot more foliage than the Borlotti, which is why I have done only one plant per cane for them.
For those of you who don't know this, Runner Beans are usually grown for their succulent pods, whilst Borlotti are normally used as a shelling bean - in other words, you don't eat the pods, but the seeds inside. However, Borlotti are very versatile and you can eat the young pods if you want, or eat the beans at the "flageolet" stage (i.e. still immature), rather than leaving the pods to fully mature and dry out. In fact, even if you didn't eat the pods at all, they are very decorative and could just be used for their ornamental value!
|Borlotto bean approaching full maturity (old photo!)|
Up at the Courtmoor plot I have planted 14 "Cherokee Trail Of Tears" beans, in pairs at the base of the seven bamboo canes of my wigwam. I had one spare plant, which I have left in the original pot. If it is not needed in the next week or so it will be discarded.
I judged that the "Jean's Beans" Runners were still a little too small for planting out, so I'm keeping them at home for another few days, but I have planted some of the Tunny Beans - 8 plants, in pairs next to the 4 poles at one end of the main support structure:
There were several spares of these, and again I have kept them close at hand, in their original pot, in case they should be required. Little plants like this are very vulnerable in their early days, and sometimes a few casualties have to be replaced. Actually, the plot doesn't seem to have much of a slug problem (so far), and I have only lost one of my Broad Bean plants, which is an indicator of the (small) scale of this particular problem.
So now I have 6 more pairs of beanpoles left to populate. Will they be devoted just to the "Jean's Beans", or shall I stick in a couple of the "Cobra" climbing French Beans? I told you I was already running out of space, didn't I?