S is for Scarlet runner beans.
The scarlet runner beans, Phaseolus coccineus, are a vigorous vine that grows really well up a trellis or a teepee of bamboo poles. Each vine will grow upwards of 2 meters. These are popular beans to grow in Britain.
A favourite memory of my late uncle (who lived in England) is going to his house to visit when our girls were young and going out to pick his beans. He gave me lots of seeds to bring back to Canada and I grew my beans from his seeds. As I’m a seed saver perhaps some of the seeds I plant this year will be decendents of the original seeds he gave me.
The seeds were planted into 4 large pots and germinated in 7 to 14 days depending on weather and soil conditions.
About a week later the true leaves appeared. A trellis was added to one end of the plant table as these plants are vigorous climbers.
The vines quickly covered the trellis. Once the vines reach the top I twist them so they twine back down and around another part of the trellis. You can see the lovely red blooms appearing.
This is a great annual vine to grow for both the flowers and the beans. The flowers are wonderful for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. I’ve seen the hummers checking out the red blooms many times but haven’t been quick enough to snap a photo.
The beans are edible before they gets too tough or fibrous and once you remove the long stringly bit along the edges. The beans inside are big and can be cooked and eaten like lima beans. I have found that many people that grow these beans in Canada only grow them for the pretty flowers.
The little beans develop where the bloom was. Don’t pick the bloom off else you might also pick off the little bean shoot. Just let the bloom fall off on its own.
And there will soon be lots to pick. Pick them before the seed inside starts to get big and fat.
The green pod can be cut like french beans. They taste best when they are younger and the bean inside hasn’t developed really big. But be sure to leave some beans on the vine so the seed inside develops big and juicy and then save them for planting next year. Leave the last beans on for as long as possible so the seed inside develops big and fat. You can see when the seed is ready for picking as the outer part of the bean goes brown and the seeds start to bulge out.