BEANS, SCARLET RUNNER (Phaseolus multiflorus)
The scarlet runner is possibly more important in the amateur’s garden than any other crop. It is grown for a double purpose, for it makes a decorative and very effective screen between oneand another, or between one part of the garden and another.
Well-grown plants may reach to 10 ft. in height, and if supported on strong wire or netting stretched between tall posts, or on a framework of beansticks sufficiently strong to stand up to summer gales, a few plants will produce an enormous crop.
Two things must be guarded against, they are frost and drought. Runner beans are heavy feeders. They like deep rich, well supplied with plant food and moisture. Given this, with an open situation fully exposed to the sun, they will bear prolifically for 2 or 3 months.
In southern gardens, seed can be sown in early May, but in cold northern districts they should not be sown until the end of the month. Seeds can be 3 in. deep in single rows 4 in. apart, with 6 ft. between the rows, or in double rows with 9 in. between each seed and the rows 8 ft. apart.
An easy way to ensure satisfactory soil conditions is to dig a trench 1 ft. deep. A 3 in. layer of well-decayed manure should be thrown into the bottom and covered with a 6 in. layer of soil. If the seeds are sown in this, they will be less likely to lack moisture and food than if sown in ordinary soil on level ground.
Sudden changes of temperature, such as a sudden drop in the temperature at night, will sometimes cause runner beans to drop their flower buds before they mature. A check in the water supply will have the same effect.
Runner Bean pods should be selected for the show table when perfectly fresh and young. They should be of even size and appearance, and as a rule should be rich deep green in colour, long and straight. Some of the best varieties for cultivation in the amateur’s garden are: Scarlet Exhibition, Best of All, Czar.
Certain of the Dwarf French Beans are suitable for growing on to maturity instead of being gathered when they are green and the beans are stored dry for winter use. They are cultivated in exactly the same way as the ordinary dwarf beans, but the pods are allowed to ripen on the plants and are harvested just before the winter frosts.
The best variety for this purpose is the Brown Dutch Bean.