Beans means summer flavour – even in a flat

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Ihad an inspiring letter from Chris who has a tiny garden at her flat at Gosport.

She liked the idea of growing Salad Bowl lettuce with beetroot along the front of a flower border and she has planted them. She would love to grow runner beans, but doesn’t have enough space. ‘Can you come up with a brilliant idea please Brian?’ she asks.

Perfect timing Chris, because I was going to write about runner beans this week simply because nearly everyone enjoys eating them.

So, have a go at this...

Buy a good quality growing bag, not a cheap one which is as thin as a razor blade, and place it on its side below the wall of your flat so the bag stays in place.

Slit the top edge of the bag, leaving three inches at each end so the compost doesn’t fall out.

Fix a piece of two-inch by one-inch wooden batten on the wall six feet above the growing bag, using rawlplugs and screws.

Hammer in seven large staples an equal distance apart along the front of the batten.

Now, buy seven canes all eight feet long and push the thick ends into the compost in the growing bag. Now tie the tops of the canes on to the staples with twist ties.

The central cane should be perfectly upright, but you need to place the others so they form a fan.

One runner bean plant is planted at the bottom of each cane. As ever, water it in and soon the bean shoot will cling on to each cane.

If they are naughty, disobey you and decide to go to anther cane, unwind them and tie them into the correct cane.

Runner beans are beautiful in every way and as I often mention, they look great in flower borders on a wigwam shape of canes about eight feet tall.

If you are interested, the seeds can be sown indoors now and the plants planted out once the risk of frost has passed.

Remember my tip of the other week? There won’t be a frost if the hawthorn where you live has finished flowering.

On Portsdown Hill it is in full bloom, but at Waterlooville and Widley the flowers are only just showing colour. Be careful and remember Mother Nature often provides us with a good guide.

Perhaps you prefer climbing French beans? If this is the case, the canes need not be so high. Six-feet long canes are suitable and climbing French beans look great too.

At home the lawn dried out enough to mow the grass. My word, what a difference it makes to the garden’s appearance when the grass has been cut. The smell of newly-mown grass is quite unique isn’t it?