Plant those runners – it really will work out

Runner beans
Runner beans

GARDENING: Readers' questions and a whole host of horticultural jobs from Brian Kidd

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Do you love eating runner beans? More importantly, do you grow them?

The answer is that most people love runner beans and when I ask an audience if they grow them, only a few hands shoot up into the air because gardens are too small or there isn’t a garden.

During the middle of this month we will be able to plant runner bean seeds indoors, you don’t need a greenhouse. Make this an interesting job, especially if there are children in your life – yes, particularly the grandchildren.

Find a sandwich box and put a sheet of absorbent kitchen paper in the base and wet the paper.

Sprinkle the runner bean seeds over the paper and place another piece of absorbent paper over the top. Put the box in a warm dark place for seven days. Open the box and each bean seed will have a little root.

If a root doesn’t appear, wait for a couple of days until the roots can be seen. Once the root has emerged, put one in each little pot or into a cell of an insert cell tray. Any Universal compost may be used.

If kept indoors out of the frost the leaves will appear and the plants will be ready to plant out after May 21. This is the date after which we shouldn’t have a frost.

If the beans don’t produce a root it means they were either kept too wet, too cold or the seeds were not viable but nevertheless it’s a good idea because once a root emerges, the plants will grow.

In the garden the runner bean trench can be prepared. Add some well-rotted compost or manure and put up the eight-foot high canes. When this is seen on allotment sites it means summer isn’t far away.

In small gardens runner beans look great on eight- foot long canes erected in the shape of a wigwam. The back of a flower border is ideal, nobody will ever notice but you will have a pyramid of beautiful plants with elegant leaves, gorgeous flowers and delicious beans.

If you live in a flat with no garden, fix a piece of batten wood six feet above the path and knock in large staples nine inches apart.

On the pathway place a growing bag on its side (not flat) and use a sharp knife to slit the top. Push the eight-foot long canes into the growing bag in a fan shape.

Plant one plant at the base of each cane and you will have an elegant show of runner beans in July and if kept watered and fed, the crop will keep going until the frosts arrive.

No excuse, if you love runner beans, there is no reason not to grow them!`