The Year Of The Bean (yes, really…)

February 24th, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Dwarf runner bean 'Hestia'The Year of The Bean? The Bean?! Really, it’s The Year of The Bean? And what’s that got to do with Plant Talk, where we usually discuss only flowers and other ornamentals?

Well, just take a look at this dwarf runner bean. Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s called ‘Hestia’ and, as you can see, it has bright red-and-white bicoloured flowers on naturally bushy plants, ideal for containers.

Have to say, it’s my guess that there’s a block of oasis in that pot, not compost – specially set up for the picture. But that doesn’t prevent us seeing what a bright and colourful patio vegetable it is.

Also, in spite of being a dwarf plant that reaches no more than about 45cm/18in in height, it holds its tender, stringless beans off the soil so they don’t get muddy or diseased. What’s more, you’ll get the first crop about two weeks ahead of climbing varieties although through the season the crop will be smaller. Well, what do you expect? The plants are only about a quarter of the size of climbing runner beans.

And here’s another thought. In her classic book Creative Vegetable Gardening, the great Joy Larkcom says you can turn climbing runner beans into bushes!

What you do, she says, is… “pinch out the leading shoot when the plant is 20cm (8in) high, then nip out secondary shoots that develop beyond the second leaf”. Though of course if you go on holiday for fortnight you know what to expect when you get back.

Unfortunately, naturally dwarf runner beans in scarlet, in white and in pink are disappearing, leaving only the excellent bicoloured ‘Hestia’. But if you want to grow bushy runners in other colours then Joy Larkcom, Queen of Veggies, has explained how to do it.

Order seed of dwarf runner bean ‘Hestia’

Order seed of climbing runner bean varieties

Order young plants of runner beans

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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