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Runner beans Phaseolus coccineus, were first grown in the highland of Central America at least 2,000 years ago. Evidence of the bean has been found in archaeological digs in cave deposits of the Tehuacan valley. In South America the beans are eaten and the tuberous roots are used medicinally. Here we mostly eat the immature green pods. Runner beans were probably introduced to Europe in the 16th century. They are hardier than French beans and produce much bigger crops in Ireland. The tuberous roots can over-winter if protected from frost and behave as a perennial plant. The flowers must be pollinated for the pods to form, if there are not enough insects around to do this there will be no crop.

Sow Beans outdoors in May and June 20cm apart in rows 30cm apart. If beans are sown in cold wet soil they will not grow fast enough to get ahead of the slugs. The first warm week in May is best, and sowing can continue into the beginning of June. Keep well weeded. A 2m climbing frame must be provided as Runner beans grow very tall. The pods can be harvested as soon as they are big enough and before the beans have begun to swell. If the beans are being kept to dry or to be eaten at a more mature stage, they need to be left longer.

For Seed, the pods should be harvested when they have turned brown. The beans can be shelled when the pods are crisp. Before storing check the beans are really dry by hitting with a hammer. They should shatter, not squash.

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Greek Gigante
Greek Gigante
Our Price: €2.80

Phaseolus coccineus. This greek variety is grown for its huge white beans, rather than the pods. These are buttery and delicious, cooked in a tomato sauce or dressed with salt and olive oil. Plant under cover in April or outdoors in May or June. Provide at least 2m of support, Harvest October/November. 10 seeds

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