When to plant runner beans – Sow this weekend for early summer harvest

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Runner beans are “one of the easiest tops to grow” according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). If you are hoping for an abundance of vegetables in the early summer, this weekend is a great time to sow your seeds.

For an early crop, the RHS advises sowing your seeds indoors and allowing them to sit in a greenhouse or on a warm, sunny windowsill.

If you want to sow your plants directly outdoors, though, it is best to hang on a little bit longer until the early summer months.

However, this will mean your harvest won’t arrive until a bit later.

How to sow runner beans in April

Mid-April to May is a great time to sow runner beans inside and means you will get a harvest as early as June.

You can start runner beans off indoors, preferably on a windowsill that gets lots of sunshine.

The seeds will also be content at this time of year if grown in a greenhouse or a heated propagator.

Sow your seeds into pots that are seven or eight centimetres wide, and fill with moist multi-purpose compost.

Sow one bean into the centre, around five centimetres deep, and be sure to water well.

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Seeds will thrive in temperatures 12C or above.

If the conditions are right, your seedlings should grow at a rapid paste and will need regular water.

The young plants can then be transplanted outside, usually in late May or early June, once the risk of frost has passed.

Before moving your plants outside, make sure to harden them off to acclimatise them to outdoor conditions.

This can be done by putting them in a cold frame or playing them in a warm, sheltered spot and covering with fleece.

The hardening off process usually lasts around two weeks.

Ahead of planting in the ground, you should enrich the soil with manure or garden compost, ideally two weeks before planting.

The RHS says this gives the ground time to “settle”.

When growing in rows, the traditional method for preparing the soil is to dig a bean trench.

The RHS states: “Mark out a line, then dig a trench 90cm (3ft) wide and 60cm (2ft) deep. Loosen the soil in the base by forking it over.

“Scatter well-rotted manure or homemade garden compost in the base of the trench and mix with the soil from the trench. Return the improved soil to the trench.

“Add pelleted poultry manure at the manufacturer’s recommended rate .”

For climbing varieties, gardeners should put the supports in place before planting.

Then, once the bean plants are hardened off, it’s time to plant them in their final growing position. This should be a sunny and sheltered spot.

Runner bean plants should be regularly watered, especially once they start flowering and forming pods.

The RHS explains: “You will typically need to apply five to nine litres (one to two gallons) of water per square metre/yard every three to four days.”

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