Some years ago Chris was working on an organic farm in Rhydlewis in West Wales providing vegetables to farm shops. Each year they grew runner beans inside the tunnel, to provide an early supply at a top price, before anyone had them ready in their gardens. Since we have been growing vegetables at Five Star Polytunnels for our roadside shop we have always grown the runner beans outside, we have been unable to find the variety that did well in the tunnels in previous years.
Last year as an experiment we grew a few runner beans at Five Star Polytunnels inside, initially they did well, we were busy and we didn’t find time to pull the beans out, by chance they did a second flowering and we got a late crop of beans.
This year we have done more (variety Czar from Real Seeds) and I have more carefully monitored the proceedings
Seeds sown in pots in the polytunnel for inside 17th March
Seeds sown in pots in the polytunnel for outside 10th May
Planted out…. inside the tunnel 9th April
Planted out…. outside in veg patch 27th May
First beans inside the tunnel early June
First beans outside in the Veg patch late July
Our runner beans at Five Star Polytunnels inside, produced a good crop but then some plants succumbed to black fly in quite a bad way but they have pulled through and kept growing, in the pictures we can see how we now have a flourishing crop, the beans have gone on to produce lots of green growth, all along our crop bars, and right up into the height of the 24ft tunnel producing more beans than earlier in the year and far more than we have achieved outside. Our outside beans were definitely pollinated, I could see all my honey bees and the bumble bees enjoying themselves but the flowers didn’t set successfully, just when we thought they were getting going the whole lot blew over on the 19th August. We managed to rescue them and provided them with a steel hoop structure but since then, lots of flowers, lots of new green growth but no beans of any consequence.
As with all of our vegetable growing, it’s a lot of trial and error. What was successful one year can be a complete failure the next. The weather patterns are changing and we are challenged by high wind and lack of water at certain times of the year but we will definitely be growing more runner beans at Five Star Polytunnels under cover next year.