Runner Beans (also known as climbing beans or multiflora beans, latin – Phaseolus coccineus) are bean plants which grow by ‘climbing’. They use support to climb up or will creep along the ground and other plants or anything they can use as support.
Beans Growing Up Corn
Beans Growing up Bamboo support
As well as physical frames and supports that can be constructed out of materials like wood, metal plastic etc, they can also be grown up corn plants and sunflowers (also trees and other tall, strong plants). check regularly to make sure the corn is not being strangled anywhere by the plants, as they wrap around.If there appears to be any parts where the plants are wrapped to tightly, gently un-tangle them and re-route them.
They are one of the latest seeds to be sown (in UK they are nearly always sown in May, if the weather is fairly dry and warm at the end of April then it may be worth sowing then). The seeds are prone to rotting in the ground if it is damp, which is why direct soil sowing in May is advisable.
When sowing the seeds, sow them closer than any recommended spacing’s, so that any seed failures / losses will allow there to be other seedlings nearby.
When the flowers have emerged, they can be lightly sprayed with a hose or something similar to help the flowers set. Rain will also encourage the flowers to set.
These plants often do not require heavy feeding, especially if grown with plenty of live soil covering.
The roots of these plants will establish a relationship with bacteria within the soil which will restore nitrogen from the air, and fix it into the surrounding soil. See – Field Beans, Nitrogen (የናይትሮጅን – Yenatirojen), Legumes, Nodules and Bacteria. This nitrogen can be utilized next season by a suitable crop, like qanneh besem, corn, potatoes etc.
A pre-crop of mustard is suitable for runner beans, and then mustard afterwards, if the weather allows for it to be sown.
Runner beans enjoy growing with radishes and kohlrabi.
Plants sown in pots, to be planted out, can be sown much earlier, maybe as early as March if protected. We nearly always sow the seeds directly into the ground, and then have some in pots as backups and gap fillers, because when sown directly into the soil, there can sometimes be gaps.
As they grow, individual plants may require guidance, by gently wrapping them around their support. Also plants can become tangled if they slip off their support, they will tangle with each other. Gently un-tangle them and re-train them to their support.
Harmony – Corn, Bean and Cucumber
Towards the end of the season, after various harvests and pickings, some pods can be left on the plants to mature into the autumn. These pods will allow the beans to mature into seeds that will grow next season. This technique of leaving some pods on can also be achieved with most other types of beans, and peas too. If there is enough, they can be used for cooking, or instead of harvesting the beans and eating them when they were green, they can all be left for food. Remember that regular picking is what encourages more flowers.
Dwarf / Bush Beans
First the green pods will become more and more rigid as the time passes. Finally they will become brown and crispy, while containing the seeds for next season.
While harvesting, keep checking the pods and beans. Some pods may contain no seeds at all, or very small, undeveloped seeds. And individual seeds may be undeveloped or not proper for use. They can be checked by gently squeezing them, if the seed is soft and squeezy, it is probably underdeveloped. Most of the seeds will be firm, and after a day or 2 of drying, they will be hard if they was not allreaggy rigid when harvested. The seeds of runner beans have a mottled affect of black and pink / orange.
Examples of dud seeds
Use finger or thumb to slide the seeds out of the pods into a catchment container
The harvested seeds are dried, and then stored.