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Runner Beans


Ease of Growing [Scale 1-5] - 1 (Easy)

How Time Consuming

Very little apart from watering at the correct times and harvesting beans regularly.

Recommended Varieties   

  • 'Organic ‘Enorma’ -  very long, smooth, slender pods. Early cropper.
  • ‘White Emergo’ – White flowered stringless variety. Heavy cropper.
  • ‘Scarlet Emperor’ – traditional, early variety, good flavour.
  • ‘Hestia’ – Dwarf variety for containers.

Home Grown Vs Supermarket

Always home grown, you can pick when beans are still young and tender and you can’t beat fresh beans.  Supermarket beans can be old and stringy.

Best Sites and Soils

Need a good moisture retentive soil so incorporate lots of organic matter into the soil a few months before planting.

When to sow

Plant in deep pots mid to late Spring on windowsill or in the greenhouse.  Sow two seeds per pot 5cm (2” deep).
Alternatively sow direct in the ground when the soil has warmed up. They will not germinate unless the soil temperature is above 12 degrees C (53 degrees F) usually in late Spring.

When to plant

After the risk of frost late May/Early June.
Distance between rows - Plant in double rows 40cm (15”) apart or up a wigwam.
Distance between plants - 20cm (8”)

When to harvest

Jul-Sep often into Oct.. Time taken to mature 12-14 weeks.

Meet the Author: Jo Blackwell
Jo  Blackwell

Jo Blackwell is new on the Harrod Horticultural block and has recently taken over her post as Horticultural Advisor and Kitchen Gardener in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden. She caught the gardening bug when she bought her first home 18 years ago.  Her first greenhouse soon followed and she later gained an allotment, where she grows her own organic fruit and vegetables.


Further Information

Watering / Feeding - Weed regularly and water in dry weather.  It is important to water regularly when the flowers form to ensure the development of bean pods.


Guide to sowing and planting - Seedlings will soon grow and wind up the supports however they will need to be loosely tied to give them a helping had.
When the beans reach the top of their support pinch out the growing stem, this will encourage the beans to flower lower down and also prevents the structure from becoming top heavy and unstable.


Problems to look out for - Beware of slugs and snails, they will devour your young plants.
Lack of flowers – this often means lack of pollinators if it is too cold or windy or too much watering at the wrong time, resulting in lush leaves and no flowers. Over application of fertiliser can also be the problem.


How to harvest by type - Pick beans when young before the pods start to swell.  If left on they will become tough and inedible.

Storing - Like all vegetables they start to deteriorate immediately after picking but can be kept in the fridge wrapped up in paper for a couple of days.  Alternatively slice the beans, blanch and freeze immediately.

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