Sunday, 18 August 2013

Let’s have a beanfeast . . .

As far as I’m concerned – this year has been an exceptional one for runner beans.  I only planted out ten plants; two each of five varieties.  The usual method of growing up canes was changed – I grew them straight up over a nylon net with cross-pieces as support.  This meant that the beans hung down rather than inwards on the usual sloping cane method, and it doesn’t take up as much space.  You know how difficult it is to find all the beans that are inside the wigwam or cross-cane tied-at-the-top method – this way I haven’t missed any, so none have grown to a huge size to stop production of other beans.  After they had established and started climbing I mulched with grass clippings and made sure I watered every day.  The trench they grew in was filled with well-rotted horse manure and topped with home-made compost.

 

There are still a few flowers left to be pollinated right at the top – the plants have been covered in bees for weeks.

 

To be honest, I have more beans than I know what to do with – friends and neighbours have benefitted from the bean bounty.

And still they keep on coming – I have been harvesting a few pounds weight every day – I definitely have a surfeit that I just don’t know what to do with – the freezer is full.  Maybe I could add them to picalilli or runner bean chutney.  We have them with our meals two or three times a week, and although I love them to death and could eat bucketsful – it is starting to wear a bit thin.  I can hear my husband thinking – Oh no – not beans again.  But what a nice position to be in  - and all for so little effort really.  Definitely a must-have crop for me.

34 comments:

  1. Fantastic haul of bean - we have only picked about six so far - they are really slow.

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    1. Oh that's a shame but on the bright side when mine are all finished yours will just be starting and you'll have it all to come.

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  2. Brilliant. I like the new method of support. Will be trying that next year. For peas too.

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    1. I grow sweet peas that way - that's what gave me the idea - I thought maybe the weight of the bean plants would make in unstable - but it has remained solid as a rock despite all sorts of strong winds. Just to say I did put a support cane at an angle at each end and in the middle for a bit of stability.

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  3. what a fantastic crop, we have tried freezing runner beans in all manner of ways without success so we eat them fresh and give a lot away to the old folk who love them

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    1. It is a shame that they don't really freeze that well - I have tried salting them down in earthenware jars before now but it is a bit of a faff.

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  4. Loooooove runner beans! Spent all morning stringing mine today!

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    1. I always pick mine before they get to the stage of needing to take the strings off - they are also lovely and tender when picked relatively young. I can always remember back in the day when I used to buy them they were always tough and stringy.

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  5. When I was small my mother used to salt them in huge earthenware crocks. The sliced beans would be layered with salt, then taken out and left to soak in water before use. I seem to remember that they tasted OK.

    Woops, I've just seen your comment above!

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    1. I still have the earthenware crocks that I used to use - I was thinking of getting rid of them but maybe I should give salting another go - otherwise a lot of beans will be wasted.

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  6. You are definitely ahead of me. Mine are just starting to produce. However, it is clear that in my new garage garden where they are, they are either too close together or else 2 per string is too many!

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    1. I'm sure they will soon catch up - even the ones I have in a container are doing really well.

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  7. Sounds a good way to grow beans. Is it easy to disentangle the beans at the end of the growing season?
    One minute we're sick of beans (or whatever glut there is), then suddenly they're finished and a week later I miss them and wish there were more.

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    1. I've never grown them this way before Anne so I'll let you know at the end of the season how easy/hard it was to untangle them. If not I'll just dispose of the netting and replace it next year.

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  8. I missed not having any last year but have really made up for it this year with more than enough, and plenty still to come by the look of it. Like you I think that they're definitely a must-have crop. Flighty xx

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    1. I have grown beans every year since I started growing veg but last year was the worst I have had mainly due to the slugs eating the plants before they had really got established.

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  9. Runner Beans are a Must-Have crop for me too, and they are reliably prolific. Mine have done well this year, but not as well as last year, whch was really exceptional because of the rain during the Summer. Runners like sunshine, that's for sure, but they also like LOTS of moisture. We froze lots of them last year, but we actually still have some of them left in the freezer! Frozen beans are OK, but nowhere near as good as fresh ones. BTW I have also read that you can preserve them by salting, though whether that would be an economical venture is debateable.

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    1. Before I had a freezer I always used to salt them - you can buy huge bags of salt quite cheaply from Sainsbury's. The idea is that you use about a pound of salt to three pounds of beans, layering as you go and ramming them down firmly. It forms a pickle that will drown the beans. You just pull out the amount of beans you require rinse them well in cold water for five minutes, soak them for a couple of hours before boiling. They actually taste better by this method than frozen. There - I've convinced myself to preserve them in salt again this year. Lucky I didn't throw the earthenware crocks out after all.

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  10. Unfortunately I don't have any beans this year. The first batch of seedlings was eaten my slugs and the second batch didn't even germinate. I should have given them another go. Last year I had lots and I still have some left (frozen and preserved in vinegar). I was growing them on the chain-link fence just outside the back door which I can access from boths sides. That was pretty handy. I'll try again next year.
    Good luck with the preservation of yours!

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    1. Oh that's a shame about your beans this year - I would hate not to have any at all. I would quite like to grow them in a decorative way - after all when they were first introduced people only grew them for their flowers - growing along a fence sounds like a good idea to me.

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  11. I love runner beans too and have them when I can (from the farm shops) as I don't grow veggies. Wish I lived nearer!!
    Patricia x

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    1. Me too Patricia, then I could give you the odd carrier bag full to ease my burden.

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  12. I had one! Yes just one, solitary, lonely, billy no mates one! However I moved my tub near to where the bees were swamping the lavender and I now have loads - so runner bean pickle is going to be on my Christmas table this year once again. Have a great week x

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    1. Oh dear - I hope my post hasn't rubbed salt into the wounds. If it makes you feel better my container beans haven't done nearly as well as those in the ground.

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  13. Your Runner beans are looking far better than mine. There's a lot to be said for regularly watering them and good feeding underneath. Mine will be back in their normal trench next season which still has plenty of water retaining moss in it.

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    1. I moved mine back to their old site which has had many barrowloads of muck entrenched over the years - seems to have paid off.

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  14. Wonderful crop of beans! I tried this year the dwarf beans and have been picking few here and there for a salad or as a side, but next year I will grow runner beans as they seem to be producing much more greens:)

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    1. I didn't plant as many dwarf beans this year, which is a good job in hindsight as I really would have been overpowered by the bean glut.

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  15. It's a great year for beans here too! It's also the first year that my Purple French Beans have actually produced. Enjoy your bounty :)

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    1. Purple beans look lovely when they are growing don't they - but they certainly haven't been as prolific as runners this year.

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  16. Sorry for the late comment... I've been without a laptop and am only just catching up. Your nylon netting idea sounds brilliant, one to remember for next year. Of the five varieties that you grow, do you have a favourite?

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    1. That's the problem with growing up netting you can't trace the beans back to the source as they wander everywhere along the net. But one of the varieties produces long, straight beans that are very tender - it will be like playing snakes and ladders trying to find which plant they belong to.

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  17. For years I could not stand the sight of a bean but since last year I've been growing my own and my tune has changed completely! nothing like fresh beans. Wish I had read your tutorial before I planted this spring though. I have just discovered the problems of trying to find and pick beans that want to hide in my trellising.

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    1. You can't beat home-grown beans - just think what you've been missing all these years.

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