Beans for Bumper Crops Berkshire

Beans are ridiculously easy to grow and provide a nutritious and tasty crop. They provide useful amounts of vitamins A, C and E, as well as niacin and iron. Here's how to grow some of the common types.

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Beans for Bumper Crops

Beans, beans... good for your heart! goes the rather disreputable children's ditty. But beans are good for us. And growing beans is easy to do in your backyard or garden.

Here's some details on growing beans at home

Beans are ridiculously easy to grow and provide a nutritious and tasty crop.

They provide useful amounts of vitamins A, C and E, as well as niacin and iron.

They have the added advantage of being very bountiful. Most varieties perform and produce all summer long.

Here's how to grow some of the common types.

Runner Beans

Runner beans can make a good contribution to green living, helping us to reduce our food miles. They also make great gifts for neighbours and friends as they are so bountiful.

This plant must have nourished fantasies of easy living in people living in medieval times, as magic beans feature so strongly in folk and fairy tales. Just think of Jack and the beanstalk he grew from a magic bean!

In real life the bean stalk does indeed grow at a prodigious rate, curling skywards up any handy support.

Children are often very impressed by these plants, even these days, when commonplace plants must compete with the latest electronic gizmos!

The beautiful flowers, red or white, are followed by weeks and weeks of productive life right into autumn. Runners are not always to everyone's taste, being sometimes rather stringy. as well as other heirloom seeds.

The secret is to pick them while they are young and tender. Also, some varieties are better than others and may be marketed as "stringless".

Runner beans can be cooked whole - or, when the crop is getting large and prolific, use them shelled for a pleasant (and stringless) change. If you keep picking them more will develop so you can have young, tender beans all summer long.

How to grow runner beans

Grow them to start in medium sized pots or boxes of potting compost. The "seed" is quite large, and they develop deep roots quite quickly. Place the seed about 1" below the surface of the soil or growing medium.

Try to put them upright - this way they are less likely to rot. If you put them in upside down, they will right themselves but it will slow down their early growth a little. Firm the compost down and water them well. Keep the compost moist but not soaking wet.

They will quickly grow and should be planted out before they become pot-bound (too big for the pot - roots sticking out of the bottom).

Harden them off for a few days before planting out. Plant them out about 8-10 inches apart and next to a frame to climb up. Frames are easy to make.

Take tall bamboo or hazel poles and create a tepee-like structure by pushing the poles into the soil to form a circle. Each pole should be about a foot away from the next one. Bring the poles together in the middle and tie them together.

If you want to be eco-friendly it is good to use a native species for your bean poles. In Europe hazel is a good cho...

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