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“Runner beans

                                                                                                                                  will grow to over 3

                                                                                                                                metres tall, plants tie

                                                                                                                                  themselves around


                                                                                                                             If you do not like runner beans, then French string
                                                                                                                             beans are an alternative. Sometimes called pencil
                                                                                                                             beans they are started in the same way as runner
                                                                                                                             beans except you can sow them roughly 6 cms apart in
                                                                                                                             trenches 30 cms wide. Mostly self-supporting,
                                                                                                                             depending on variety,  they will appreciate stakes down
        Herbs & Vegetables                                                                                                   both sides of the trench with a couple of lines of string
                                                                                                                             between at 30 cms spacing. I grow a variety I bought
                                                                                                                             years ago, the name long escapes me. I have been
        Preparing Summer Crops                                                                                               saving seed every year since. Saving string bean seeds
                                                                                                                             is easy. Leave the last few pods on the plants until they
                                                                                                                             are crispy. Remove the seeds and put them in a jiffy
                                                                                                                             bag. Label the bag. I cannot count the number of times
                                                            June is probably the last month before autumn that you           I have saved seed and not labelled them because I
                                                            will want to sow seeds. The ground becomes so warm               would remember what they were. Keep over winter in a
                                                            that seeds cook rather than germinate. Two exceptions,           cool, dry place. The garden shed is fine.
                                                            well worth trying, are string beans and runner beans.            Other sowings that you can risk are beetroot and
                A guide to                                  Both need well-prepared ground that was ideally                  carrots. Make sure you have varieties that can be sown
                                                                                                                             in early summer.
                                                            composted for a previous crop. Good drainage is
                                                            essential. Runner beans will grow to over 3 metres tall
                                                                                                                             Watering becomes very important, especially if you
                     sowing &
                                                            so, the way I plant them is in two rows, 1 metre apart, with
                                                                                                                             have an allotment some distance from where you live. I
                                                            about 15 cms between individual seeds. Soak the ground
                                                                                                                             use a simple system. A timer on the tap is set for 2
                                                            before pushing the seeds down to about 2cms. Then do
                                                            not water again for one week to ten days. The first
                                                                                                                             down the length of each plot on the allotment. The
                                                            shoots should be showing when you start watering to
                                                                                                                             solid pipe has ‘T’ pieces arranged so that each one
                                                            keep the ground just damp. Support individual plants
                                                                                                                             points down a ridge, each has a plastic tap, and
                                                            with 4 metre long canes, each stuck 1 metre into the             hours every night. A solid 9mm pipe takes the water
                                                                                                                             perforated pipe runs down the top of each ridge. Each
                                                            ground; you can cut dead canes yourself down many of             perforated pipe has a bung at the end. That way, I can
                                                            the river courses. Lean the canes inward so that they            turn off or reduce the water from each ridge pipe. I
                                                            meet between the rows and tie them off. The plants will          water on top of the ridges, so that excess water soaks
                                                            twine themselves around the canes as they grow. I sow            down between the ridges and I can interplant with leafy
                                                            Scarlet Emperor, an old variety that has beautiful red           vegetables like lettuce, beetroot, swede and turnips.
                                                            flowers that look attractive. The beans taste good as
                                                                                                                             The leaves of these plants help to shade the ground
        Sponsored                         If your business would like to sponsor our Gardening Page                          and reduce evaporation. A tip here; visit your local
                                                            well. Pick them young to avoid the side strings.
                                                                                                                             poligono for your pipe, taps, ‘T’ pieces and bungs, they
                                                                                                                             will be far cheaper than in garden centres and DIY
                                                    please email
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