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.
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.