Runner beans, a good allotment staple! Partly because they are so expensive to buy in the supermarkets and you really can’t beat runner beans that are fresh out of the garden.
I’ve managed to save some seeds from the White Lady variety that I grew last year. White Lady have a white seed, a bit different from the speckled pink and black seed that you usually see. White Lady also produce white flowers as opposed to red. Tozer seeds are pioneering the use of White Lady runner beans, so much so, they’ve earned the Perfect for Pollinators Mark as well as the Award of Garden Merit from the RHS. They have a good reputation for being the better tasting runner bean on the market. White Lady runner beans offer good quality 28 to 30cm long smooth pods.
One thing I do like about this type of bean is that it can withstand dry conditions better than most other runner beans, which will make them perfect for the allotment during a time when access to water isn’t as frequent. The flowers are also edible, which I’m sure will make a delightful garnish on the plate. I’ve even read online that these beans are so pretty, people have even used them in their flower beds.
If you can, but isn’t essential, try and soak your beans in water overnight. The seed will absorb the water and they will swell, given them a bit of a headstart before you plant them into the ground or into pots. Be sure not to leave them in the water for too long, as in the past I’ve found that the seeds go mouldy and you run the risk of spoiling them altogether. I’ve sifted some soil and layered this onto the bed that I’ve chosen to plant my runner beans – the seeds will hopefully find it easier to germinate in finer soil. I’ve also built wigwams for the beans to grow up against and support the plants when they have the weight of the beans hanging off of them.
When the seedlings start to poke through I’ll have to put keep them protected from slugs, black fly and other pests that may want to take advantage of a free meal. That said, I did have some seeds left over so I’ve planted them in pots as an insurance policy, should these get eaten!