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Growing Runner Beans From Seed to Harvest

Posted on the 14 April 2022 by Growseed @growseeduk

Are you looking for an easy and delicious vegetable to grow in your garden? Then, runner beans are a great choice!

They have a lovely texture, taste amazing, and you can grow them in abundance. Therefore, once you get the hang of growing these seeds, you will have a steady supply of green vegetables to use in your kitchen.

But, before you can harvest this crop you'll need to grow them. To have success with growing runner beans you need to follow this guide.

What Are Runner Beans?

Traditionally, runner beans are grown in long rows but you can also grow them against a wall, or in a container. This vegetable is a popular choice for gardeners as it provides value for money and can be produced in large quantities.

Sometimes, you might want to experiment with growing an exotic fruit but the harvest is small and, therefore, your time is wasted on one crop. Mixing up your crop and planting runner beans will give you plenty of produce, and will add some green to your garden!

Now, you might be thinking, is there more than one variety of runner beans?

Yes, there is!

So, you can pick your favourite and try planting the seeds in your garden. Here is a list of the best varieties of runner beans:

Once you've picked your variety of seeds you'll need to learn about their ideal growing environment, so these beans can thrive.

Planting Information for Runner Beans

Let's start with sowing. As runner beans are tender vegetables they don't like cold weather and will not survive in frosty climates. Therefore, it's important that you sow indoors in late spring. However, it's also possible to sow the seeds in early summer if you need to.

Depending on if you sow your runner bean seeds indoors or outdoors, you'll have to follow slightly different instructions. Here's a breakdown for planting in containers for all conditions and planting directly into the soil...

Sowing Indoors

You should start by picking a location for your container. Ideally, you want a spot with lots of sunlight. If you want to keep the pot in your home then a windowsill is a great place for sowing runner bean seeds.

In addition to the location of the pot, you need to think about the size of the container. For runner bean seeds you'll have to buy a pot that is 7-8cm wide. Once you have the location and container chosen, you can move on to placing the seeds in the soil.

The best choice for compost is one that is multi-purpose and moist. You should put a seed in the centre of the compost at around 2inches deep. All you have to do after placing the seeds in your pot is water consistently!

Sowing Outdoors

No matter if you're planting your runner bean seeds inside or outside, you should use the same compost. It needs to be a moist and multi-purpose variety. Of course, growing outdoors always comes with some additional problems like weather changes and insects.

So, it's vital that you sow your seeds correctly. Otherwise, your seeds might accidentally blow away in the wind, or become overcrowded during the growing process. Therefore, you should sow one bean per pot.

You should make sure the seeds are 5cm deep when placing them in the compost. Another factor to keep in mind when growing outside is that you need to use a cold frame or provide alternative shelter.

Giving your runner beans the right support is essential if you decide on planting directly into the ground as well. However, the soil here needs to be rich and fertile. If you can't provide this type of soil then it's best to use containers.

But, if you have lovely, fertile soil then you can definitely sow your seeds in the ground!

Sowing Into the Ground

Just remember to test the pH levels and make sure they are at 6.5 on the scale. You can also add extra organic matter to improve the health of the soil if there have been crops planted previously in the same spot.

For planting outside into the soil you should wait until mid-May when temperatures have reached 12°C. You can always begin warming up your soil beforehand by covering the ground with cloches for about four weeks before sowing.

Using cloches is a good way to give your seeds the best chance of success when the weather changes.

Growing Runner Beans

As already mentioned it's important to give your runner beans support when they are growing. The easiest way to create a support structure for runner beans is by lining up a row of bamboo canes where the seeds have been planted.

If you want to use bamboo canes then you should leave 40-60cm between every two rows. Plus, you'll have to space the canes 15cm apart. To secure the bamboo canes and create an A-frame structure, then you'll have to tie the canes together at the top.

Then, that should be everything you need to support your runner beans!

You can always buy an existing structure if you don't want to make your own. Although, all you need is some bamboo canes and you can make a support system for your runner beans. So, if you feel like a challenge then this is a great activity for this year.

Watering Schedule

Runner beans require a lot of watering so you'll need to get used to adding an extra task to your to-list every few evenings. You will normally have to apply at least 5-9 litres of water per square metre when watering your crops. Luckily, you only need to water every three or four days.

Therefore, you don't need to dedicate time every day to watering. However, creating a schedule is a good way to ensure your runner beans get the moisture they need, and that you don't accidentally forget to give them extra water during the warm days.

Apart from watering, you can also spread mulch over the seeds. The additional nutrients will give your runner beans what they need to keep healthy and thrive.

Common Problems With Runner Beans

Even though runner beans are one of the easier crops to grow in your garden, there can still be some issues that you might have to deal with. For example, black bean aphids are common pests that infect runner beans.

You can spot black bean aphids quickly as they distort the appearance of your crop and will stunt the leaves. However, if you notice any of these two signs you don't need to panic. The first step in restoring the health of your crops is to remove infected leaves.

As well as that, you can also try to catch the small population when they appear and get rid of them by cleaning the area. Hopefully, you won't have problems with black bean aphids but if you do, you now know what to do.

Harvesting Your Runner Beans

After you've started your growing process for runner beans you can harvest around eight weeks after sowing. You can pick the young pods when they feel tender and are 15-20cm long. The pods should snap easily and you should be able to see the beans inside.

If the beans are pale in colour then they are ready to eat!

Gerrys Tips for Harvesting

In this section, we'll cover some expert tips from Gerry about encouraging your pods to set. Take note of the following points for growing runner beans that don't "set" properly...

  • Never let the soil dry out and lose its moisture
  • Add mulch after planting for extra nutrients
  • If your soil is acidic you can try applying lime
  • For warm climates grow French runner beans

Now, you have everything you need to know about growing runner beans. The main things to remember are not to forget to water your crop, provide a strong support structure, and watch out for black bean aphids.

Besides the rare pests, you shouldn't have any issues growing runner beans. After harvesting your beans you can look forward to a roast dinner served with a side of runner beans...

Sounds amazing, right?

And, if you enjoy planting these seeds, you can keep growing them in the future. If you follow this guide, you can have an unlimited runner bean supply at home!


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