Not the harvest I wanted ...

flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)August 20, 2012

This year has been incredibly wet and our gastropod plague has been even worse than usual. The picture shows Painted Lady Runner Beans and the other harvest I picked in the time it took to get the beans. They like to climb up the bean poles during the day but don't damage the beans too much once they are a decent height. However they destroy the greens growing near the beans. (ps if you haven't grown runners be aware that the ones in the picture are well past their best because I've been away. The beans should not be bulging like that.)

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sweetquietplace(6 WNC Mtn.)

It's strange how one's mind immediately jumps to butter and garlic.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 9:55PM
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Actually, I always eat runner beans as shelly beans. I didn't grow any this year. We also have had more snails than usual despite the dry july.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 8:06AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

pn - I had never heard of runners as shellies until I came to these forums, in fact I'd never heard the term 'shellies' at all. I tried them twice and did not enjoy them either in flavour or texture. We only ever eat them as green beans. I feel bad composting them but I really can't eat them like that. And this is a person who never wastes anything (except snails - I've tried cooking them too - not a success). Have you got a runner shelly recipe that will convert me?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 8:24AM
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I just boil them up and eat with butter and salt, or they might be incorporated in a stir-fry after parboiling. Same as with any shellies.

It's true they have a strong flavor, not my favorite by any means, much prefer lima which is sort of a similar flavor and texture (except just better) but I can't grow lima very successfully here in MA nor can you in southern england. Pole beans and lately various Vigna cultivars have been doing so well for me here that I have abandoned runners. They don't do that well except when we have one of our cool wet summers, for which reason I had been barely keeping them going but just lost track of them this year.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 4:55PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Thanks pn. I might give them one more chance.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 2:27PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Hi again pnbrown - last night I gave runners as shellies another try. I steamed them and then sauteed with garlic and lots of chopped parsley. I think we have an acceptable recipe at last. Unsolicited expression of enjoyment from SO.

They are annoying to shell and not a very attractive colour but the parsley disguises that. However, we still prefer them as green beans by many miles and shellies will be an occasional thrifty menu addition to save the oldies ending up on the compost heap.

They are still cropping thick and fast but beginning to slow down a bit at last.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:15AM
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Do you not grow pole beans (phaseolus vulgaris types) for shelly and dry?

Since I posted here mexican bean beetle really come on massively and totally defoliated all the legumes and destroyed the snap-stage pods. All I have now are the dry beans (which fortunately had heavily set before the MBB got going) and a few shelly cowpeas.

I hope this beast does not exist in England (I suspect it does not), it's a huge problem for anyone trying to grow significant amounts of legumes, at least in the Phaseolus and to a lesser extent in the Vigna families. I will probably go more heavily on Pisum and Fava next year.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:33AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

No, no MBBs here.

I do not grow P vulgaris much at all since my plot is fairly heavy clay and it is not very sunny. The average MAXIMUM August temperature where I live is 69f with about 3 inches of rain. I grow bush beans sometimes but since runners are so easy and so successful there is little point struggling to grow P vulgaris in our wet gloomy summers. I've tried pole P vulgaris too, but again the yield is so low that I don't bother any more.

There is no tradition here of growing beans for shellies, except of course, favas, and very few people grow beans for drying either, and certainly not commercially. All the dried beans in the shops are imported. I imagine that the weather is just too fickle for reliable crops of beans for drying. I once grew some Borlottis but ended up up with just handful of dried beans. Even if they did produce good crops I don't have the space to grow worthwhile quantities.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 12:00PM
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"I imagine that the weather is just too fickle for reliable crops of beans for drying"

Hence good old pea-soup in the old days, aye? Peas must grow like gang-busters there. They also produce pretty well in southern new england, luckily for the Puritans, since that is all they had for legumes at first. I think they acquired P. vulgaris from the locals eventually but not as quickly as they did maize. I wonder if P.coccinus didn't reach england before it did new england?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 9:49PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Ironically, there is an article in this month's Garden (Journal of the RHS) all about a woman who specialises in collecting beans, and she dries hers. But she is a real, dedicated bean enthusiast. Sadly the article is not in the online issue. But I just flipped through to the RHS advice on growing P vulgaris (known as French beans here) and there is no mention at all of growing them to dry. It is tacitly assumed you'll be eating them as pods. They are said to need 'a warm, sunny spot in well-drained soil', precisely what I don't have on my allotment.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 4:23AM
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There just isn't any substitute for the right climate for a crop, is there? Nor for the right soil type.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 8:07PM
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I wasnt sure how to eat runner beans and so I waited till they bulged and then shelled the beans and then used them. Earlier in the summer my regular green beans had grown so much when I came back from a 3 week trip that the pods were over ripe and the beanseeds were sticking out. I just shelled the beans and used them in a stew-like soup similar to how we cook lima. They were tasty.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 5:15PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Purnima - strangely, thanks to pnbrown, I have persevered with eating runners as shellies and have got used to them now. Still not mad about them but better than wasting them. I cannot imagine how many tons of fat runner beans are thrown on compost heaps throughout the UK every year. We just don't consider them edible like that. One important point is that if you do not pick them young they will stop producing. Keep picking and they will crop continually for 4 months. Here's our old discussion.

Here is a link that might be useful: Runner Beans as Shellies

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 1:07PM
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