This Year’s Runner Bean Frame Goes In

Constructing the climbing frame for the runner beans is always one of my favourite garden mini-projects.

In the past I’ve tried a couple of configurations in an attempt to maximise light and air access, but realised last year that there’s a reason that the triangular wigwam style is the traditional one: it just works. The key is the addition of the diagonal canes, which prevents movement and keeps everything rock-solid.

Here a shot this year’s finished frame, and another showing a close-up of the joints. I’ve bound the canes together with plastic plant ties rather than string: they don’t snap (well, not quite as easily), they don’t rot and they’re re-usable. Plus, no knots to fiddle with. Click the pics for larger versions.

Runner bean frame June 2013   Runner Bean Frame plastic ties

I’ve put two runner bean Scarlet Emperor in so far, and there are another two in the cold frame that will go in sometime this week. Then I have another eight plants that I’ve just potted on to larger plastic pots in the greenhouse – the first batch I sowed didn’t germinate too well (just two from twelve seeds) so I had to sow another dozen.

As you can see, I’m growing my runner beans in the bed that currently holds last year’s over-wintered kale. It’s still putting out plenty of fresh leaf, so I’ll leave it in there until the rest of the beans are ready to go in. Hopefully it will have fixed plenty of nitrogen in the soil that the beans will thrive on. Oh, and those sprays of delicate yellow flowers are what you get if you let scarlet curly kale bolt and go to seed. Rather lovely, no?

That section of the raised bed also contains a catch-crop of spring onions, which won’t do any harm if I leave them in until they’re ready, and an attempted sowing of bull’s blood leaf beet. That hasn’t done so well, so I’m just digging the seedlings back in.

Another few weeks and Jo and I should be feasting on fresh runner beans until they’re coming out of our ears, if past years’ harvests are anything to go by.

6 comments to This Year’s Runner Bean Frame Goes In

  • Craig

    For the first time in 10 years I’m not growing Runner Beans this summer!

  • If it is ‘cos Craig gets too many ………..They are the best of anything I ever grow – love ‘em to bits – always get piles too many but just stick them in the freezer – actually was eating them when we came home at Christmas last year. To tell the truth I don’t even blanch them any more I just wash, slice, chuck in two portion size lots in polythene bags them bundle all those in one big bag. When I use them from frozen I don’t steam them in case they need ‘sterilizing’ (???) so I bring water to the boil first then lob in what I want – haven’t died from anything yet and they come back just fine. I used to spend ages with boiling water and ice water doing the blanch thing – that’s enough to put you off bothering. Here’s a nice pickle recipe – basically runner bean and onion piccalilli: next day are even good cold with a little really nice (flavoured) oil.

    • That Piccalilli recipe looks like a good one. I’ll bear that in mind, in case we get a glut this year (please, please, please…)

      I froze a batch of runners a couple of years back and they generally tasted fine after a light steaming straight from the freezer. Can’t remember if I blanched them first or not – I think I might have tried to. But hey, I’m still here too, so it can’t have gone too badly wrong, eh? :)

  • Meant to say – love the construction – looks like that withstands wind – worried about my ‘bean wall’ this year.

    • Aye, it should do. I gave it a good shake and rattle to test it and it didn’t seem to be budging at all, so fingers crossed.

      A bean wall should be fine, as long as it’s anchored. A couple of well-attached diagonals is probably the key – make sure it’s proof against lateral movement, otherwise it could just fold up on itself (which is what happened to one or two of my earlier attempts, three or four seasons ago…)

Thoughts, Suggestions or Comments?