There are several reasons why I grow runner beans.
I love the red flowers and the ease with which the plants climb the supports, all with very little attention from me. They offer vertical interest in a low-growing patch and they are good mixers sitting comfortably surrounded by lettuces and cut flowers. They add a sense of cottage garden to the allotment giving it a more homely feel. I also enjoy the actual beans but it’s a challenge to pick them when they are really young and slender.
On the allotment today the plants were still producing but the beans were very large and I know they’ll be really stringy. So I picked the largest and podded them. These pretty black and pink beans take about 15 minutes of steaming after which I drizzle them with butter melted with a crushed clove of garlic and lots of black pepper. They are great with pasta and they make the most delicious vegetarian chilli con carne, the beans being more substantial than the traditional red kidney bean.