Heavy crops of smooth textured, dark-green pods, each reaching 30-37cm (12-15″) in length. Red flowered Runner Bean ‘Scarlet Emperor’ is excellent for freezing and for exhibition. Runner beans are a good source of Vitamin C, folate and iron, and have a high fibre content. Height: 3m (10′). Spread: 30cm (12″). Companion planting: Try growing runner beans with sweet peas to attract pollinating insects to the flowers, and Nasturtiums to draw aphids away from your crop.
Sow runner bean seed indoors from mid April for transplanting later on, or direct sow outdoors from late May to July. Indoors, sow seed at a depth of 5cm (2″) in 7.5cm (3″) pots or trays of free-draining, seed sowing compost. Place in a propagator or seal container inside a plastic bag at a temperature of 18-20C (64-68F) until germination which takes 7-10 days. Once germinated, grow runner beans on in cooler conditions until all risk of frost has passed and runner bean plants are large enough to be transplanted. Gradually acclimatise them to outdoor conditions over 7 – 10 days before planting runner beans outdoors in rich fertile, well drained soil in full sun or semi shade with protection from strong winds. Avoid freshly manured soil which will promote lush foliage instead of beans. Alternatively direct sow runner beans outdoors at a depth of 5cm (2″) and a distance of 30cm (12″) apart. Plant runner beans in rows that are 1.5m (5′) apart, or where space is limited, grow beans onto a wigwam structure. Runner beans require support from garden canes, strings or netting which should be put in place at the time of planting.
When growing runner beans provide a thick mulch of organic matter around the base of the plants to help conserve moisture and reduce weed growth. Water runner beans regularly, particularly as the flowers develop, and provide a liquid feed every 14 days during mid-summer. Pinch out the tips of the beans when they reach the top of their supports. Beans can be harvested from July onwards. Pick the beans regularly and a little on the young side to ensure top quality and prolonged cropping. Culinary note: Suitable for freezing. Caution: Cook runner beans before eating to avoid discomfort.