At our seed selection meeting in January, Alan suggested growing runner beans on the garden’s entry arbor. Though we’ve grown many types of beans, runners were something new.
Alan chose an heirloom Scarlet Runner that he remembered seeing at Michelle Obama’s Kitchen Garden on the White House grounds in 2012. A section of that garden was dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, with plants grown from seed saved each year since Jefferson’s time at the Monticello gardens.
The seed was sown at the same time as our bush beans in mid-May. Germination was excellent, and by mid-June the plants were scrambling up the trellised sides of the arbor. Flowers and the first snap beans appeared by mid-July, and we had the first dried beans in late August.
The dried bean pods are a boring dead leaf brown, but the beans themselves are positively stunning. Over the course of the season, the vines have nearly covered the arbor, and the prolific flowers are pollinator magnets (we also discovered that the flowers have a yummy bean flavor).
It looks like we will be harvesting lots of these beauties before the season ends. And it’s fair to say that the Scarlet Runner beans have been a real highlight of this year’s garden. Well done Alan!