The weather is on our minds again. This time, the drought. And it reminds us that drought always seems to disrupt the pollination of runner beans. Some say that we should spray the flowers with water – but I think this is a waste of time. I’m sure the only benefit they get is when the water runs off and soaks into the soil. But growing one of the new self fertile runner beans is certainly a help.
Most runners beans need pollination from another plant to produce beans. They need bees to carry the pollen from flower to flower and they also need moisture at the roots. But with fewer bees and drier summers, crops have been unpredictable.
‘Firestorm’ is the first scarlet runner that is completely self fertile, it crops well when fertilised with its own pollen and without a visit from the bees. In fact it’s altogether less fussy about setting pods. The beans themselves are stringless and slightly thicker, slightly sweeter and more tender than other runner beans. And the flowers make quite a show too.
‘Moonlight’, introduced a couple of years ago, is also self fertile but has the less popular white flowers.
The other thing that helps ensure a good set for all runner beans is moist soil. So the bath water and the washing up water should go along the bean trench.
You can order seeds or plants of runner bean ‘Firestorm’ from Marshalls Seeds.