Just some of the beans from Richard Wright’s garden and, inset, the ‘bootlace’ bean from seed brought back by a colleague.
GARDENING CRIKEY! I, like most vegetable growers, am full of beans at this time of year.
I cannot pick the runners quickly enough and have been feasting until the family — almost — craves a tin of mushy peas instead.
Those first eagerly awaited beans of the season were a good few weeks ago and, very soon as the nights start to chill, beans will become fewer and those that do remain will get tough and stringy.
One interesting addition I tried this year was a real bootlace of a bean, courtesy of a colleague who gave me some seed brought back from her holidays.
I only had room for a couple of plants in a corner rather too shady for this bean, which is used to a blazing sun, but it produced a few, which were without string — which is just as well because it’s not possible to shave this bean — had a firm texture and, unsurprisingly given its emaciated twig-like look, a French bean flavour.
One bean that has been and gone is Fagioli. I grew that a few years ago when it was only known about in Italian chef circles in this country, and it featured in a stew on one of those weekend cookery programmes.
This dappled red and white podded bean is well worth a go, if you have the space, because it is grown for its large seed, which can be dried and stored.
It is well worth growing different bean varieties which can be stored because, as far as I am aware, no-one has yet come up with a successful method of keeping the king of beans, the runner.
Freezing takes out the texture and salting… well, need I say more? My mother tried it once and I still have the frown lines to prove it.
All beans, whether grown to be eaten whole or for their seed, have at their genetic root Phaseolus vulgaris, which came originally from Central and South America.
It developed into the variously named, green pole, dwarf, runner, climbing, kidney, cannellini and haricot bean, pea-beans, cranberry or black-turtle beans — the list goes on.
Runner beans are, of course, one of the most commonly cultivated crops. They are easy, attractive and extremely productive. One 'wigwam’ in a sunny spot can produce enough beans for most.