One of the nice things about growing a market garden is that we get to bring varieties to the market that are unusual and that you would never find at the grocery store. Runner beans are one of those vegetables. They are fabulous beans and similar in use to the familiar “snap bean”. Runner beans have that wonderful old-fashioned real bean flavour but because they are not suitable for shipping or for produce-case storage you will only find them fresh picked at the Farmer’s Market or in your own backyard garden.
We like to plant them to for the crop of lovely fresh green beans but Runners are also mighty handsome in the flower garden. Scarlet Runners have showy flowers on sturdy vines that continue to produce blooms from early Summer all the way till first frost. Look for red flowered, white flowered and even bi-coloured varieties. Sow bean seeds when the soil has fully warmed and give them something to climb and you will be picking lovely beans with great flavour all summer from a single sowing. There is the saying about beans – “Keep ’em picked and they’ll keep producing” and this is also very true for peas.
Most gardeners agree that Runner beans are best picked on the small side but as long as seeds have not started to develop they will still be great eating. Actually, I am a pretty lazy cook and I like to have large fully developed vegetables. Somewhat more mature beans results in less tops to snap and a handful of big beans becomes enough for an entire stir-fry.
We like to slice runner beans diagonally into long strips and saute them with chopped fresh garlic, a splash of Tamari and a few chopped chillies to make fabulous garlicky beans that are equally great on a rice bowl or as a simple side dish. Really good beans!
When we grow runner beans on teepees like this I always think they look like they are ready to up stakes and just walk away like beany “Day of the Triffids” creatures.
Runner beans. Very nice indeed.