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The lost plot: Growing beans over summer

Beans are a crop that prefers the warmer parts of the year. October is probably the earliest time to plant them as, if the soil is not warm enough, they won’t germinate, but otherwise they are easy to grow. The choices are dwarf beans, runner beans or scarlet runner types.

Dwarf beans crop well, need no staking and can be planted every two or three weeks throughout the summer for succession. When we were children, we preferred the Golden Wax butter bean type, perhaps because they have a slightly milder flavour.

Runner beans are the ones that grow to a prodigious height on those bamboo tepee-type frames, but a fence or trellis will do as well to support them. They will crop more heavily than the dwarf varieties.

Scarlet runners are perennial, they come back every year, and also need support of some kind. Make sure you pick these beans while they are young or they will be inedibly stringy. You can tell they’re getting past their best if the seeds inside start turning pink/red and make humps in the green pod.

You can also grow beans, such as borlotti or cannellini, for drying. Leave them on the vine until they are dry and rattling around in their pods before harvesting.

First published: Jan 2019