When to sow runner beans: Why June could be your last chance for an autumn harvest

Alan Titchmarsh shares tip for growing vegetables

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Runner beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but if you want a thriving patch to satisfy your bean needs over summer, you’ll have to sow your seeds fast. According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), June is the final optimum month to plant runner beans for a September or October harvest.

Despite being particularly easy crops to grow, runner beans are fussier than most to begin with, making timing crucial for optimum growth.

The seeds need to be planted just enough after the early seasonal frost has cleared, but timed perfectly for the warmer soil and weather conditions to spread.

This makes April, May and June the perfect time to sow runner beans for optimum returns, making the months from July through to October the best time to harvest them, according to the RHS.

You won’t have to wait long as after a week or so in a warm place, the seeds will germinate, presenting new fresh shoots through the soil and reassurance of successful sowing.

Not only will the plants knock a few quid off your shopping list, but they also produce beautiful red, white or bi-coloured flowers, depending on the variety.

As one of the easier crops to grow, runner beans are a perfect option for gardeners of all experiences.

How to grow runner beans

Marcus Eyles, horticultural director at Dobbies told Express.co.uk: “Due to the nature of runner beans, they need to be protected from frost at all times, which is why just now is the perfect time to plant them as the weather heats up.”

Using peat-free compost, create a hole for your seed approximately two inches deep.

Next, space each bean seed out at least six inches apart, planting one seed per hole.

Cover the hole with compost and water the seeds frequently when it looks like they are drying out.

Mr Eyles recommended training the plant with a wigwam support made out of four bamboo canes placed in a circle and tied at the top.

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Using this same planting method, place one seed at the base of each cane and loosely tie each plant to it as it grows around the cane.

For outdoor seeds, it’s important to ensure the area you plant the seeds is in a warm position, out of the way of direct wind and cold conditions.

Runner beans are particularly thirsty plants so to ensure optimum growth and harvest success rate, you should check them daily to ensure they haven’t dried out.

Your runner beans will be ready for harvest when they reach around 15cm long. Mr Eyles advised gardeners to pick them every two to three days for the best results.

He said: “This will allow them to keep flowering and producing beans throughout their season.”

The gardening expert added: “An extra tip to help maximise your crop is to let a few of your beans get slightly bigger at the end of summer.”

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