Growing runner beans is very simple if you know the basics. This type of bean is resistant to most kinds of blight and has a very high tolerance to chemical fertilizer. It's a perennial and should be dug up and divided every year. If you plan on planting them in the garden, they would need protection from wind, cold and hailstorms. They are an evergreen hardy crop that prefers full sunlight but can tolerate some shade.
Planting runner beans seeds: To begin planting, dig a hole about twice the width and length of the pod and add compost in the bottom. Once the hole is dug, plant two or three runners and keep them in the hole until the flowers bloom. After the flowers bloom the pods should be removed and the seeds placed in the hole to germinate. If you want to avoid a hothouse effect, keep the seeds moistened until they sprout.
Planting conditions: It's important to the success of your runner beans seeds that they are planted in rich, fertile soil. They need a good amount of sun to grow, but once they sprout, they don't do well in shade. They prefer full sun but will do well if kept out of the shade for part of the day. Be careful to not over-water them.
To get the best results, plant the seeds just after spring rains in full sun and you will have a successful crop. There will be less moisture when the young pods open because they are protected from the rain. If you plant runner beans seeds during a drought or rain drought period, the young pods may dry out, causing the plant to fail.
Once your plants have sprouted, keep them watered regularly and remove the weeds that grow around the edges. Mowing is often also necessary to keep the tall stems from bending and damaging the flowers. Keep the young stems high so they can receive plenty of sunlight. When harvesting the young pods, make sure you have cut them neatly about one-half to three times the height of the pod.
Harvesting: Once your runners have finished blooming and you are ready to harvest your seeds, carefully remove the dark green pods from the center of the foot long stems. Cut the flowers diagonally about half way down the stem. Do this cutting about one inch below the seed pod. Now, stand the stems on your work area and pick the beans up gently with a pair of garden shears. You can eat the seeds or leave the beans to dry and enjoy the beautiful reddish flowers that will continue to bloom as long as they are in your garden.
Germination: If you are lucky enough to be able to harvest your seeds at the correct time, your germination chances are very high. If the pod is dry from being stored in the shade for too long before you replant, it will take several weeks before it is ready to be planted again. If you are not that lucky, your best bet is to replant your young pods after about a month if they are in good condition, and after about three weeks if they are rather wet.
Runner bean flowers can be eaten fresh or dried and sold as a snack or a spice. Dried beans can be stored for a few months in airtight containers in the freezer or left to dry at room temperature in a well drained small bowl. They can also be used in chili, stews, soups, and salads. Runners are an excellent choice for a wide variety of foods because of their versatility and because of the natural taste they have that people love, even those who hate beans.