Most runner beans are self-pollinating but require bees or other insects to set their bean pods. For some reason warmer than normal night time temperatures result in a poor crop of beans although the production of flowers is not affected. This may be one reason why some gardeners spray their plants in the evening of warm nights - it will have a generally cooling effect.

 

Runner Beans do best when they are grown in nutrient rich soil which retains moisture. Their roots go down much deeper than most vegetables so a well dug soil to a depth of 45cm / 18in will suit them fine.

The classic way to prepare soil for growing runner beans is to dig a deep trench as long as the proposed planting area, about 60cm / 2ft deep and about the same width. Stack up the dug soil at the side of the trench. This would normally be dug around November time. Over the next month or so kitchen waste which would normally go on the compost heap is placed into the trench instead. This continues until the trench is half-filled, hopefully around Christmas time.

Now fill the trench with the earth previously dug up and place the remaining earth on top. This will create a mound of earth over the trench which will settle down over the next couple of months. In the end, at May / June time you should end up with a small mound over the trench which is ideal for planting your Runner Beans. The kitchen waste below the soil will have rotted down nicely to provide top quality body, nutrients and drainage to the soil.

The above is the ideal, and it really does produce a bumper crop of runner beans but if you are reading this article in May / June time then of course it's too late. But at least you will know what to do next year! If time is at a premium then dig the soil well and add a good dose of blood, fish and bone at the rate of two handfuls per square metre / yard.

Runner Beans are not particularly fussy about sunlight. Shade all the time won't suit them but partial shade or full sun will do equally well. You do need to remember that a 1.8m / 6ft wall of foliage will cast a considerable shadow so consider carefully other plants nearby when deciding where to grow your Runner Beans.

It is a common misconception that Runner Beans need full sunlight and heat all the day, in fact too much sun and heat can cause them to fail to set a crop even though they may produce lots of flowers

 

SNOWSTORM
Another variety from Tozer Seeds which has been bred using some of the genes from French bean varieties. The result is that Snowstorm sets beans much more easily compared to most other varieties and is not so dependant on the activity of bees and other insects. This is not only a valuable characteristic if the bee population in your area is low but it also helps in windy situations where insects are not able to adequately pollinate plants.


The name Snowstorm was given because of the pure white flowers which are very attractive against the dark green foliage. The pods are ideal when picked at about 30cm, making tasty and straight runner beans.

SAINT GEORGE


A new variety from Tozer Seeds which is really an improved version of the variety Painted Lady. The flowers are red and white making it the most attractive of all the runner beans. It's a strong grower producing crisp, stringless pods. Awarded an RHS AGM in 2006 it's now one of our firm favourites.

 

LADY DI

A personal favourite of ours which we have grown for many years. If you just can't stand even a small amount of "stringiness" to your runner beans then this is the one for you. Even if you let them reach past maturity they still remain stringless. In these circumstances the whole pod will eventually get a fibrous quality to it but definitely no string!

As with all runner beans, Lady Di is no exception, harvest it early and it is delicious, leave it too long on the plant and it will deteriorate. But with Lady Di, if you use it in casseroles or soups its stringless qualities make it tasty at any stage of its development.

This variety produces edible pods slightly earlier in the year than some others we have tried and the red flowers are very attractive. Awarded an RHS AGM in 2006.

 

WHITE LADY


A classic runner bean variety which is grown in many parts of the world purely for its display of white flowers. The beans themselves are produced mid-season and are one of the tastiest of all. Pick them young and they are completely stringless with a juicy non-fibrous texture. A reliable cropper and awarded an RHS AGM.

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