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Red Runner Beans

I can never forget the taste of the large flat green beans that are so common in England but so rare in the US. We called them runner beans - I guess because they run up the strings or poles that support them. Unlike pole beans that are shaped like small cylinders, the hearty runner bean (or red runner in the US) is long and flat. They have to be prepared with a paring knife by stripping the two sides of the rather stringy tough exterior, and then slice them before boiling or steaming. They taste remarkable and are really worth the trouble.

I learned a lot about growing these beans last year - it being the first time I had tried to grow them outside the UK. I waited all Summer and alas was disappointed with a distinct lack or beans. There were not many flowers either - and hence no beans. I read up on reasons why this may have happened and figured out that I planted them in an area that was a/ too hot and b/ at times they dried out. This is enough to stop all flower production and where there are no flowers - no beans. It was too late to save the situation with extra watering. I also learned that this plant has a tropical history and will keep on vining away until there is a frost! Interesting huh?

This year I have planted them again in hopes of those delicious beans! and this time I situated them where they may even get a little shade in the afternoon and no relflected heat from the side of the house and of course I have been very careful to keep them moist. Right now they are a riot of red flowers - absolutely gorgeous to look at and if you look at the photo below - small beans are forming! Already there are more beans forming than I got to eat the whole of last season! I can't wait!

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Little red runner beans forming amidst a riot of red flowers

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They make such pretty vines and flowers.

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