Growing runner beans: Growing runners is an easy and rewarding hobby. They are very hardy plants and will do well under most conditions. They are also known as "superfoods" because of their nutritional value and great taste. The beans of the chao type variety (which is the variety most commonly grown) are said to have the most nutritional value. They are rich in vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and a number of B vitamins.
Planting: If you live in an area that gets full sun, they will do nicely in the evening. They tend to flower in the late summer or early fall, so if you plant them in the fall, they may bloom as early as late September or October. When choosing where to plant, they will do best in full sunlight and well-drained, rich soil. Some folks will also make a hole in their yard where they plant and fill it with well rotted manure or compost. This is a good spot if you live in an area that has a lot of night shade during the winter months.
Planting intervals: You want to make sure that you are planting your runner beans in a healthy rotation so that new crops can come up in the spring with needed minerals. Your seeds should be planted every two or three months. You want to space them six to twelve inches apart. Be careful when you pull the weeds as you don't want any to get hit under the beans! Be sure that the sprouts have plenty of room to spread out before harvesting.
Planting methods: Most people love to grow kidney beans in raised beds or small gardens but there are many people who grow runners in containers. If you're growing them indoors, be sure that the containers have good drainage. The young pods that you see when you're cutting a bean at the stem are called powder beans. They're actually called ear of god beans. Once the pod matures it's called Lima bean and the young pods are called pinto beans.
So what you want to do is plant seeds in half bushels of young pods. Plant six to twelve inches apart so that there is lots of room for the seeds to spread out. You can choose to have flowers on the main plant or just have some on the edges. Flowers add color but they can also attract bees if you want them to be more visible.
It's important that if you plant your beans in the garden that you don't have red flowers blooming yet. When beans start to bloom the little red flowers come up and look very pretty. But there is no need for you to have red flowers because all the other seeds will still have black or purple flowers by the time they get to the topsoil layer. So plant your beans seeds before the flowers come up.
The reason why I tell you to keep the young pods moist until they are about the same size as they were when they were just beginning to flower is because you want to maximize your germination. Germination is important because if you can't get your beans to produce a crop then you aren't going to be able to eat them. Most heirloom seeds don't germinate for the first year. So don't expect to have fresh smelling beans for one year. Just be patient.
For most heirloom seeds, the best times to plant them are during the warm days of summer and early fall. This is when the soil is moister and you'll find the greatest chance for germination. In the cool months from late winter through early spring it's not as good. This is because the soil is drier and therefore not conducive to heirloom seeds germination. If you plant your seeds during the cold months of winter or spring, you will get better results because the soil is less likely to be frozen during that phase.