Champion runners – the finished article

A while back I sowed a mighty array of beans that had been lurking around in the seed drawer. Two varieties of runners: some from last year’s crop and a packet of ‘Galaxy stringless’, some dwarf French and a handful of borlotti beans.

Ready, set, go…

I’m delighted to announce that first off the blocks by a long shot are some beans from last year’s crop that were saved and dried. These are actually third generation now with an impeccable pedigree. Their grandfather was from the same batch as Larry: 3rd prize-winner for the longest runner bean (in good condition), 2010 Earl Shilton Vegetable, Flower and Produce Show. A couple more years from now, and I’ll be able to market these bean seeds as Heritage. With their history, they should be worth a fortune…

Next up were The Galaxy stringless. These by comparison seemed to have no sense of urgency about the whole ‘life’ thing, and just sort of ambled into the world.

The French beans weren’t quite so lucky. Only two of them popped up, and the first was swiftly eaten by the elusive slug that’s hiding out in the greenhouse. I was ‘helping’ the second one out of his cumbersome seed shell, when I got a little heavy handed and managed to snap his head off. Luckily, I have a cunning backup plan:  A couple of French beans now have my name on them, thanks to the Leicestershire Garden Exchange Facebook group.

The borlottis unfortunately told a different story. True, the seeds were damp when I planted them, but I gave them a chance with all the others. Not surprisingly, none germinated. So last week I was on the great borlotti bean hunt. It soon became apparent that there was not a national surplus of them. Three garden centres later, I spotted the last packet. Like a woman on a mission, I charged across the shop, whipped them triumphantly off the display and off to the checkout.  Beneath the smug face, I couldn’t help berating myself slightly for eating all last year’s crop, and not saving a handful to plant.

So, now we have beans, they need something to grow up. At the weekend I assembled two wigwams over the bean trenches prepared earlier in the year.  Weed suppressant fabric went down first, to (hopefully) keep the weeds down, the moisture in, and the soil warm beneath. The runners are all in (slightly mixed up the varieties, but hey ho). Apparently it can still be a tad early for them, so I’ll keep a beady eye on the weather and be ready to nip off and cover them up if needs be. The borlottis should be big enough to plant out in a couple more weeks, so they’re still in the greenhouse for the time being.

Appeared in The Hinckley Times on 17 May 2012

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2 thoughts on “Champion runners – the finished article

  1. A very Healthy looking Runner bean in the photograph. These are probably my favourite veggie for sowing planting & eating. I use my own seed from Scarlet Emporer & Enorma. Both have been hit & miss this year due to the cool damp weather but usually they are excellent. My French beans have been slow to germinate over the past couple of years but this time they were up within 10 days. Good luck with the Borlottis.

    • The runner beans are going great guns… and the borlottis are in and looking quite perky too – it’s going to be a shock when everything starts cropping… we will go from nothing to gluts of stuff 🙂

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