Back into the swing of things – runner bean trench

We’re back home and had a lovely, much needed, relaxing holiday.  We were back in the UK Friday night, at home by 3am and back out on the smallholding to open up at 8, which is a bit late for a weekend but I think we were allowed! We felt fully refreshed and raring to go!  I noticed the drop in temperature overnight though, it was very chilly at 3am!!

So now autumn is well and truly here, many vegetable plots may be slowing down in terms of production, however there’s still plenty I want to be getting on with in anticipation of keeping food coming into the kitchen through the winter and to ensure we have a cracking year in 2018. Not to mention the repairs, pruning and more preserving that’s on the cards.

Kicking things off is my decision to make a traditional runner bean trench.  I first heard of this on the blog notjustgreenfingers which I love and was so sorry to see the lady close it down.  I hope she will be back one day. I made a trench for 2017 runners, but I didn’t start it early enough, so I am making sure I don’t make the same mistake for next year.  Runner beans do not have to be rotated like many crops do.  They’ll quite happily grow in a spot that is convenient for you.  They do prefer a warm, sunny spot though.  According to the RHS “This kind of position also benefits pollinating insects, which are essential for the beans to set pods”.

To ensure the soil is constantly moist, it is also advised that one way to achieve this is to plant them in a previously dug trench.  I.e. Dug the previous year, so that’s what I started on Saturday morning and boy was it a task.

Dig a spade depth down or 2, where the beans will be planted and start to fill it over the winter with veg peelings, spent tea bags, fruit etc. 

It was super hard work, but it is done now.  I’ll start filling it tonight.  I dug over and tillered the rest of the bed.  I must say, my Christmas present from last year came into its own when I was doing that.  Some people don’t tiller/rotivate but I’m all for anything that makes my hectic life easier.

Once the bed was finished, we covered it with ground membrane which will keep the weeds down and that last bit of heat in the soil I hope.

In January or February or whenever it is full, I’ll cover it back over with soil until mid-Spring when the peelings have rotted into a lovely compost ready for the beans to thrive in.  This does mean that part of the bed will be out of action until then however I can use it to plant quick crops such as lettuce and radish early in the year so that when they come out, the runner beans can go in.

Thinking ahead, I’ll start the beans off in April indoors and then plant a later crop outdoors in June.  Hopefully that will keep the store cupboards full and the preserves flowing.

This year’s runner beans are coming to an end and today I picked a trug full.  I am going to pod the biggest ones and use in stews, which I didn’t know you could do until I watched Monty Don on Friday.  We’re one of the only countries that eat the green outer, most places use the beans!  I didn’t know that.  I’ll keep you posted as to how I do this.

Today I also dug the Jerusalem artichokes up which is a bit early I think, however they’d all snapped in the wind.  They’re drying off a bit ready to be roasted or frozen.

Steven brought a pallet out to the veg patch and I didn’t know what he was doing until I saw this:

The tools will go away over winter, but this is a great interim solution.  I might turn them the other way so no one gets their eye poked out though!  I also dug up the potatoes which I cut the tops off a month or so ago as they had blight.  I’m pleased to say the ones I used to make today’s soup looked healthy enough, let’s hope it isn’t just a one off.

They made a lovely onion, pea and potato soup or witches broth as I called it today.
I also noticed the cranberries are coming through from the plant I bought this year – I’m so pleased.
Rodney is pleased to have us back.  He hasn’t left my side, even snoozing on Ste’s trainer whilst I pottered.

9 thoughts on “Back into the swing of things – runner bean trench

  1. Nice to see you back and glad you had a good rest.My mum used to use the beans in stews when I was a kid – I used to sit and pick them all out along with the swede and parsnip as at that time I didn't like them or come to think of it stew much. There is a runner bean recipe which because of the spices used does make a nice chutney – I would say probably more to a man's taste than a woman's. My OH likes it and apparently it is one of his favourites. Mum also used to shred them and store them in the freezer without blanching. They used to come up lovely and tasted really fresh I think better than being blanched. Supposed to be frosts here tonight the wind is a bit brutal so I can believe it. Bet you are feeling it. Do you have enough cranberries to make your own cranberry and apple jelly. This is something I make year in year out – I search for the reduced cranberries then buy a load. Think I put the recipe on my blog. Ideal for drying too or cranberry and apple gin…. Glad you are back. Take care.Pattypanxx


  2. Here in France, everyone grows beans, both to eat green (actually, yellow ie haricot beure, and others grown for the inner bean, not the fleshy outer. The beans are spread out, often in lofts, to dry for a couple of weeks, then stored to use in soup, cassoulet etc. My neighbour was amazed when I grew scarlet runner beans, he thought they looked very pretty.


  3. Hi chic. Great post on your return. Impressed you were back at it so soon after your return but as we always say it isn't work is it? Good \”hard\” work on the trench! Congrats on the harvest and I love the tool holder. So pleased your spuds are ok. Where did you get your cranberry bush and was it expensive? I use so many cranberries at Christmas, it would be lovely to have our own to use next year. Love Rodney!x


  4. That's good to know re beans Tricia. Thank you. I'm definitely going to try it and as I have the kids helping more and more these days, that's a job they can do. I remember you saying you had a recipe for runner beans when I made my last batch of chutney. I'm also going to freeze a bunch of them for throwing into stews over winter. We got he frosts the night before last when you posted but this morning (6am now) it's mild and 12c out!! Re he cranberries, I'm not sure how much in weight there is but even a small amount for Christmas dinner would be amazing. So many options! Xx


  5. That's interesting thank you. Some of my beans have dried on the plant so I've kept those for next year as a trial. I don't know if the seeds were f1 or not so they will be trialled separately in case. Ooh yes the scarlet ones are amazing!


  6. Hey Hun, well I couldn't wait to get going as you know, really enjoyed it. I highly recommend you getting a cranberry bush. This one is mountain cranberry and is £9 from victoriana nurseries which is a lot of money I think, but a worthwhile investment when you think what you'll save over time. Xx


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