This will be the fourth year we have grown runner beans in our garden. It is great to eat vegetables you have grown yourself and runner beans are a great choice for the idle gardener. Once they are established they produce a crop of beans over a long period of time. Last year we were picking beans until the first frost stopped the plants in their tracks.
Last year we tried Suttons Best of All runner bean and it produced delicious beans. There are still some left in last year’s packet so that is what I am using this year. I started them off in pots on the kitchen windowsill. They take about a week to germinate. Once the first shoot appears it seems to grow while you watch. They go from nothing to 2 inches in a day. Within a few days they have large leaves.
I planted mine in the garden this morning and now I have my fingers crossed that the slugs do not eat them. I like to be a green gardener and avoid pesticides wherever possible. Over the years I have tried various remedies to keep the slugs a bay including spraying the leaves with a garlic solution, putting broken eggshells and grit around the plant and surrounding the plants with copper pipe. All this has been to no avail. My theory is that tiny baby slugs come out of the soil next to the bean plant stems. It was heartbreaking to find the young plants stripped of their leaves and most of their roots. So last year I invested in some slug pellets. There is a warning on the packet that they can be harmful to pets if eaten in quantity and to scatter them thinly. They are blue in colour so hopefully birds will not mistake them for food but I wonder what happens if a bird eats a slug that has eaten a pellet? If anyone has a proven slug remedy that is not harmful to other wildlife I would be please to hear about it. Let me know in a comment to this post.
I have left the bean plants in their pots long enough to develop an extensive root system. Hopefully this will withstand a bit of nibbling from the wildlife for long enough for the bean plants to get established. The thing I can’t understand is that there are lots of plants with fresh green leaves that the slugs ignore. What is it about a young runner bean plant that attracts slugs?