~ RUNNER BEAN SEED ~
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Runner beans are the classic UK summer crop - they will produce in cooler weather than French beans, and crop over a long period.
Can be sown direct, but best started in small pots or large modules under cover to avoid mice and get a good start to the season.
Beware, they don't set in very hot conditions, so not a good crop for a polytunnel/greenhouse unless you're in a colder part of the country
(French beans are in general a better choice under cover).
This UK variety of runner bean is hugely productive. It grows really tall and bears lots of white flowers that set long pods.
We particularly like Czar because as well as vast numbers of nice flat green pods for normal use fresh, it will also later make fat white seeds that are very easy to dry and shell out of their pods.
The dry beans can be stored and boiled just like butter beans - we always set aside a few plants for dry bean production as they are so delicious cooked that way.
But we eat lots of fresh beans each year too in the normal fashion. It makes so many!
50 seeds (approx) £
Here we have a very special and rare runner bean from the mountains of northern Greece, which has been bred over hundreds of years for the enormous buttery seeds, rather than being bred for the pods as we have done in the UK.
The seeds are alarmingly large, being about twice the size of the Czar above, which itself is a pretty big-seeded variety amongst normal runner beans.
They are fantastic in soups and stews, and the staple ingredient in delicious dishes such as:
- gigantes in savoury tomato sauce
- gigantes dressed with lemon juice, oregano, olive oil, & salt, in a salad
- gigantes paté (a bit like hummus) made with garlic and olive oil
You can find loads more mouth-watering recipes on the internet or in greek cookbooks by searching for 'gigantes beans'.
You grow them up canes just like a normal runner bean (so easy if you are used to that), but leave the pods to go brown and papery, then shell out and collect the seeds. They can be dried for storage or used fresh. They swell up even bigger when cooked.
Now you might think they look like lima beans - but this is a common misconception; they really are true runner beans, which of course are much easier to grow. And the mountainous areas in the far north of where they are from are quite wet and cold at night, so we think they should do well in many parts of the UK. They certainly grow well for us here in west Wales, and are extremely tasty.
Let us know how they do for you, we'd also love your favourite recipes / cooking suggestions.
Dry Gigantes seed (L)
versus normal runner beans (R)
18 to 22 huge seeds (approx) £