Growing Runner Beans

RUNNER BEANS

Under normal garden cultivation, these beans provide prolonged and heavy pickings of green pods which are particularly useful. They require good soil and do best when grown where the soil was trenched with a good dressing of well rotted manure worked into the bottom spit.

Suitable varieties are Scarlet Emperor, Prize-winner, Best of All and Ne Plus Ultra.


Scarlet Emperor is still a popular runner bean, despite the number of varieties available nowadays. Both Prize-winner and Best of All can be easily sourced but I fear Runner Bean Ne Plus Ultra is lost to us.


The plants are very tender and seeds should not be sown in the open until May, although early crops may be secured by sowing in boxes in a frame or a greenhouse and transplanting later. In the open, sow the seed in double rows with 9 in. of space between the plants.

If double rows are used, it is considered an advantage from the point of view of staking to put the plants opposite each other. If single rows are used, the plants should stand 12 in. apart. It is a mistake to overcrowd runner beans. Seeds are best sown in a trench and should be placed 2 in. deep.

Runner beans produce best when supported by stakes or other facilities to enable them to climb, but they can also be grown as dwarf plants by pinching out the growing shoots as they appear. When this is done the yield of pods will not be so heavy. Stout, straight stakes 6-8 ft. long, without branches or twigs, are the best for runner beans. Stakes are inserted against each plant and slightly inclined so that they converge at the top.

During dry weather, runner beans derive great benefit from watering ; in fact, dryness at the roots is often responsible for the flowers dropping and failing to set. Keep the beans closely gathered as they mature, so as to prolong cropping.

Seed Requirements

One pint will sow a single row of 100 ft.

Issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hotel Lindum—St. Annes – on – Sea—Lancashire

Taken from the February 1943 edition