WHEN TO SOW
April to June
WHERE TO SOW
Early sowings in individual pots in glasshouse or cold frame. In a sheltered spot to encourage pollinating insects. They grow well in partial shade. Put supports in place before you sow the seed, about 2.2metres high should be sufficient. A trench filled with water retaining material, such as manure, garden compost or shredded newspaper, will help cut down on watering later. To germinate the seed needs a minimum temperature of 10°C, this makes early sowing outside risky. Seedlings are also vulnerable to soil pests and diseases. Sow seeds individually in 7cm pots and plant out after the last likely frost.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Glasshouse seedlings should be gradually hardened off before planting outside in late May to the spacings above with a support cane at each planting station. Reduce outside sowings to single plants. Circular plantings can be made with canes joined at the centre to form a wigwam. Plants should be put in the ground about 15 cm apart in single rows, double rows about 60 cm apart. Remember plants wind so provide a bean netting, canes of string so the plant can scramble up. Plants wind anti-clockwise. Runner beans need ample soil moisture, so give them a thorough soaking once a week in hot spells.
Always crop the Beans regularly, even if not required, keep picking or the pods left will reduce the new growth and shorten the season. Always ensure that the site is not affected by wind. The plants will burn and die if constantly subjected to strong winds.
Once the plant has grown to the top of the support pinch out the tips to encourage side shoots.
Pick beans as small as you can. Do not leave the beans on the plant after they reach 25cm as they will be tough. If there are too many to eat freeze or compost the excess to encourage further fruiting.