Gardening TipsWhat you Need to Know When You Don't Have a Green Thumb
Scarlet Runner Beans
Scarlet Runner Beans, are one of those vegetables that can be grown in different areas of the yard and not look out of place. They are a vegetable, so planting them in the vegetable garden would be the first consideration. They also produce very attractive flowers, so they would look great in a flower bed. Their vining growth habit would also make them an attractive and productive plant for a small space garden as they take up very little garden space. All they need is a pole or trellis to climb up on. If you only have a patio or deck, they grow well in containers, making them a plant that really can be grown anywhere!
Scarlet Runner Beans are easy to grow. The seeds are large, making them ideal for children as they are easy to handle. They are also fast growing, another plus for a children’s garden. They require a long growing season (75-80 days), which is where the challenge comes, as they can not tolerate any frost, and Prince George has a short growing season of 90 frost free days. To get a head start, seeds can be started in peat pots indoors, in late April/early May and then the young transplants can be planted outdoors in mid/late May after all risk of frost has passed. Another option would be to sow the seeds directly into the garden in May when the soil has warmed up, then cover them with a frost protection blanket such as ‘Reemay’, which will keep a few degrees of frost out as well as warm up soil. Plant beans in a sheltered sunny location, in a fertile, well drained soil. During dry spells, give them moisture. Before sowing the seeds or transplanting seedlings, place poles, arbour etc., in the soil so that the plants will have something to grow up on.
Keep in mind that Scarlet Runners are a twining plant and can grow 3 meters tall. There are different ways of supporting the vines. A fun project for a children’s garden is to create a teepee. Press 6-8 long poles into the soil forming a circle. Poles need to be on a slight angle facing the centre, so that the top of the poles all touch each other. When placing the poles, leave a space for a door. Secure the top of the poles with twine. Plant 2-3 seeds around each pole, and soon the plants will twine around the poles creating a fun, playhouse. A similar option would be to create a ‘Maypole’ by placing one large pole in the centre and securing 6-8 strings to the top of the pole and staking them in a circle around the pole. Scarlet Runner plants also make an attractive fence by pressing a row of poles into the soil and having the beans climb up each pole. You can also use the plants to cover a building, pergola, arbour or fence. There are lots of options available.
Scarlet Runner flowers are red and grow in clusters and are also edible. The more beans you pick, the more flowers (and beans)you will get. The flowers attract bees and hummingbirds which is good as they require pollination to set seed. Beans can be picked at any stage. When beans are 10-15 cm long they can be harvested and eaten as fresh young beans. Later in the season the beans can be left to mature on the plant. These can then be harvested and the bean inside the pod can be eaten, or dried for later.
Scarlet Runner Beans are the perfect choice for those wanting to create an edible landscape. They are a multi functional plant that can be grown in any landscape!