Are you Growing Runner Beans?

Are you growing Runner Beans this year? I seem to flick from one extreme to the other with Runner Beans. One year I’m in love with them and the next I’ve had enough.

They are very easy to grow and can in some cases take over your garden and they are certainly prolific producers as anyone who works in an office will testify – bags and bags of Courgettes and Runners being swapped around.

But… they do taste great when they’re home-grown and far, far better than the shop bought ones. And this year there is even a campaign in the UK to get us growing them. Now is the time to direct sow Runner Beans, and erect that epic bean pole structure that will be the envy of all your neighbours.

I recently visited a garden where there was such a crazy structure for Beans that I simply had to photograph it.

I just love the way it is strung together in such a haphazard way. I suppose eventually you won’t see it as it will be covered with Runners but it still made me laugh.

If anyone can beat this for craziness I’d love to see it!

24 Comments on “Are you Growing Runner Beans?

  1. Oh, I hope it’s not windy where they are! I had a cane structure last year (not nearly as impressive as this one) and it was like the straw house of the little pig – one puff and it (almost) blew down!

  2. Wow! I’m so inspired now. I just planted some pole beans a few days ago and used some pretty boring u-posts (though surely they won’t fall over and blow away) as the main support for them.

  3. My dad always grew them but I was never that keen on them; I prefer the dwarf beans.

  4. It’s extremely windy as we speak! Eek… hope it’s still upright.

  5. I put up a similar crazy structure for my broad beans but have since realised they don’t really need it, but I’ve kept it up cos it looks ‘gardeny’ haha. I’m growing dwarf runner beans in pots this year :)

  6. I always grow runners, although not as many as the climbing and dwarf french beans. I’m growing a white-flowered variety Moonlight and also Stenner which I’m hoping to enter in some local shows. As with most veg best picked young. I like the structure, a bit more complicated than mine!

  7. I love runner beans! Since getting the seed from the Heritage Seed Library we’ve grown Salford Black (beautiful shiny jet black seeds).
    They need and BIG strong frame, I usually make one out of huge willow poles and it goes right over one of the garden paths in a big archway. The bean pods are whoppers – over a foot long and sooooo tender and sweet!


  8. My first attempt last year, not knowing how crazy they go I used a few short canes. Thankfully they were next to a tree and went so high I had to go up a ladder to pick them! I’d never eaten them until last year either and have clearly been missing out for 33 years!

  9. I stopped growing runners and switched to climbing French after a series of hot dry summers left me with very poor crops, The hot weather seemed to not only affect the yield but flavour as well . Runners are quite hungry crops and need quite a lot of soil prep but on my south facing slope I can just bung climbing french in and off they go!

  10. I have better luck with bush beans and like them more than the pole beans I have tried. ‘Provider’ is a good open-pollinated variety that does well in my rather shady garden but I don’t know if it is available outside the U.S. I think you may have to stagger plantings for a longer season but I’m not an expert.

  11. Oh thank you for letting us know about this campaign… I have a friend who’ll be interested in this! I managed to grow runner beans a couple of years ago – they weren’t plentiful but not bad for a first try. Must do it again soon. Lovely photo’s and the structure looks more like a modern art installation :-)

  12. Love the bean pole structure…but the engineer in me say it needs a few diagonals to brace it for the wind! :) We grow runner beans every year – love them. Enorma is the variety we grow most (I think you need to experiment to find the variety that suits your conditions) but we don’t let them get ‘enorma’ as we like them young, when they taste their best.

  13. We’re growing runners for the first time this year – we’ve always just stuck to broad beans in the past, which my husband loves since he found a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe for broad bean hummus. I’ve got ‘Scarlet Emperor’ from Duchy Originals and sowed them direct into our peas-and-bean bed last week. We’ve got a very natty home-made A-frame for them to climb, made from wood and wire, so no danger of it blowing down. Fingers crossed for the bean crop!

  14. I’m firmly in the climbing French bean camp. My family prefer them to runners, particularly in salads, and I like the effect of mixed varieties on the same structure. This year I’m trying District Nurse and Kew Blue from the Heritage Seed Library.

  15. I’m sooo late with my beans this year I’m wondering if it’s worth bothering at all… I guess I could sow some in pots in the greenhouse and see how they catch up… I do love french beans too….

  16. Last year we had a plentiful supply of runner beans in our tiny garden and totally agree they taste so much better than shop bought – this year though I’ve opted for peas on our little plot.

  17. We are growing runner beans this year in our gardening club for the autumn show. Each family got a packet of Lady Di. The winner will be the one with the “best” beans – the judge will determine what “best” means. I chose Lady Di as they should grow long and straight and then we can eat them afterwards. We call them “Feuerbohnen” here (fire beans).

  18. We love doing Scarlet Runner beans here in Napa, Ca. My structure actually looks almost the same, but was constructed from recycled redwood from an old patio cover. My kids loved the leafy tunnel that led them to another part of the garden!

  19. Reminds me a bit on the scaffolding I saw in China a couple of years ago. Except that was over 5 stories high. I like it – looks more natural than metal rods etc.

  20. So I’m not the only one who uses an slightly bizarre structure for broad beans! It works well, trust me!

  21. We’re definitely growing them this year and childhood memories of gagging over the stringy bits have been laid to rest since we discovered the wonderful ‘stringless’ varieties that are available now. Ours are currently protected by fleece from the vicious winds we’ve had recently, so hopefully they will survive to keep us in beans over the summer! Last year, we tried Pam Corbin’s (River Cottage) recipe for runner bean pickles, which were a great hit with everyone and a terrific way to use up the inevitable glut.

  22. I grow runner beans and tomatoes in containers at the side of the house. The strings for the runner beans are tied to the brackets that hold my hanging baskets. Copper strip around the bottom of the pot deters slugs and snails. In July and August I have a most colourful wall, and the bees love it. The crop is always more than I need and my neighbours benefit as much as I do.