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Over the past few weeks we haven’t had a great deal of sun and neither have we had much rain so an in-between mid spring cloudiness has been around most days. If you haven’t had any rain, I expect you will be wishing for it by now as many gardeners have been waiting for it as the ground is so dry. My allotment is holding up well, as it’s no dig, the layer of mulch each year really helps to retain the moisture and I’ve barely touched a watering can apart from to moisten the containers.
The Rhino Greenhouse is full to the brim, most definitely at that stage when I am wondering if I should have gone bigger! It looks so fabulous with trays of seedlings growing in all kinds of shapes and sizes. It’s such a pleasure to open the door and feel that excitement for the growing season. One legume I said I wasn’t going to sow again this year but did is the Runner Bean.
Runner Bean poles are perhaps the most well known staple of the allotment plot, with the tall vines, pretty flowers and abundance of beans. Unless you’ve been unfortunate, they are extremely easy to grow and you soon find yourself overrun with beans to eat fresh, freeze or give to friends and family. No matter how much I protest every year that I am not going to grow them the following year, I always end up planting some. This year however, I have minimised the amount to just eight plants which are now growing strong in pots in my rhino greenhouse. I opted for Runner Bean ‘white lady’ this year for the white flowers which are love by the bees. They are very ready to be hardened off before planting out soon.
You can sow bean seeds from April to June and I tend to start mine in the greenhouse from April, later hardening them off ready to plant out when the risk of any surprise late frost has passed. When the soil is warmer, they can be sown directly into the soil which is a great and very easy way of growing if you have little space. They will need full sun and well prepared soil so dig in some well rotted organic matter before planting out. Sow 5cm deep and about 20cm apart so they have plenty of room to grow. Put your plant supports in at this stage or before they get too big to minimise root disturbance and also just because it’s easier! Water as needed and you’ll be harvesting from summer into autumn. Pick regularly so more continue to grow, I prefer the little and often harvest rather than coming home with trugs full that need to be prepared and stored all at once. My absolute favourite way to eat them is with shallots and garlic. Delicious!