by Chris Burns
|Just like snow flakes, you'll never find two that look exactly alike, attesting to Nature's infinite variety of expression!|
I've grown them many times before, but up until recently I always considered them to be strictly 'ornamental'. Don't know why! Perhaps it's because they were described that way in the catalog from which I ordered my first seeds. As you can see in the pictures posted with this article, they add exquisite beauty to any garden patch. It wasn't until 2011 that I sampled them as cooked, dried beans and discovered their beauty is only rivaled by their delicious flavor!
|Scarlet Runners vining up the bamboo trellis. We grew a 70-foot row last year and are doubling it in the 2013 season.|
|Bean-trellis made with bamboo poles wired to a cable.|
|Scarlet Runner Beans will grow in a greenhouse too. Just be sure to leave enough vents open to allow pollinators to come and go.|
|Bean pod-loving teens!|
|Pods, any bigger than this and they're too tough to eat green.|
These beautiful beans are rather large --about the size of a fat Lima bean-- and therefore yield enough to make a pot of soup-beans in a short time. If you're serious about growing your own protein-source, Scarlet Runners make an excellent choice.
|Harvest beans once their pods are tan and dry. OSU-students shelling Scarlet Runner Beans.|
|Shelling beans from their pods is a fun activity for all! Jim and Adri shelling kidney beans.|
|A bamboo tipi provides a trellis for beans and beautifully frames our garden helpers.|
Be creative! Sometimes just a plain ole' bowl of beans with olive oil, soy sauce, finely chopped onions and grated cheese is all you need to get you in the mood to go outside and brave the winter elements.
Update June 2022: Since originally writing this post, we've discovered another bean we love that's also in the "runner" family: Giant Greek White Beans. They have a white flower and produce a white bean that's even larger than the Scarlet runners. Though each bean is typically larger, the plants themselves don't seem to be quite as productive. We didn't realize the varieties would cross so now, sometimes when we plant a purple, Scarlet runner seed, it produces white flowers and beans!
Here's a post on How to build a Bean Tipi/Teepee.