This is a retrospective post, started at the beginning of June and edited on 19th August. How nice to look back at what has happened in three short months.
Growing runner beans is so rewarding. Here's a seedling (left) with it's seed leaves bright and shiny in the sun, ready to go; and only a few days later, ramping up its pole. I love the intelligence and tenacity of beans, and the way their twining stems unerringly climb anti-clockwise.
For the first time ever I resisted putting out the French and runner beans 'til the end of May. In previous years they only got checked (ie stopped growing for a while and made less vigorous plants in the long run). This year there was the unusually late, hard frost on 26th May which would have been the end of them. Remember, their origin is Mexican!
I'm using birch and cherry bean poles taken from clearing Surrey heathland. They are a bit sturdy and wonky, with rough bark, so my row may not look the most elegant. However, I believe studies show beans grow more strongly when they can get a good grip. Compare smooth bamboo poles - which are imported from Asia and sold at a great price in garden centres - you might as well support a UK local coppicer, http://www.beanpoles.org.uk/, http://www.coppice-products.co.uk/.
Left, flowers exactly one month ago, and right, big tall grown up plants this morning, beginning to get tired and go over, even. Lastly, a handful of beans for a minestrone today.
I'm a grower, gardener and qualified designer living and working in South London. I teach horticulture at Capel Manor College, at their site in Regent's Park, and I coordinate the volunteers of Garden Organic's South London Master Gardener programme.
Please visit my business website to find out about how the garden design and horticulture training services I offer - vivekagardens.com
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