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Growing runner beans in Portugal

 
Burra Maluca
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A fellow member recently posted this in another thread...

I've been discussing recently the prospects for growing runner beans (one of my favourite vegetables) in Portugal. Most people think this is hopeless, because high temperatures mean runner bean pods won't set. I wonder whether, with stronger sunlight, runner beans might grow well in annual beds in the dappled shade and lower temperatures of a forest garden, thus also providing another nitrogen fixer. Maybe we could breed a variety that might work.


Well that was like a red rag to a bull, so I consulted my other half and we started to pull a few ideas together. He is the one who loves 'green beans', and this is his green bean seed collection ready for planting this year.



The two on the right are described as 'runner beans' - one is a Phaseolus vulgaris and one is a Phaseolus coccineus. So straight away we have a little brainstorming to do. What, exactly, is a 'runner bean'? Does it refer only to Phaseolus coccineus or to any climbing bean that is eaten green and in the pod?

The two packets on the left are French beans, or green beans, and grow very well here. They are both Phaseolus vulgaris. The Saxa variety is the one we call 'Menna beans' in honour of the little girl who came to visit us the first year we were here and spent almost the whole time in the garden systematically devouring our entire crop, plant to mouth. They are both bush beans, not climbing beans. Neither of the two types described as 'runner beans', which are climbers or 'pole beans', have ever done any good for us, despite the fact that one of them is also a Phaseolus vulgaris. This leads me to suspect that it may be the habit of the plant which is the problem, not the temperature. Of course, in the case of the Phaseolus coccineus it could be both.

My other half suspects that the problem is that the taller stems are more susceptible to catching the sun. A bush plant is, literally, bushier, and shades the stem better. With longer stems they just don't seem to be able to get any growth. With the few stems that did survive, the bean set wasn't bad, it seems that the problem might be with the stems, not the set. But of course, that's just how he remembers it, and he's not sure which of the two possible species it was, and it obviously needs more experimentation.

Shade is a valuable and scarce commodity here in Portugal, and a forest garden might indeed be the way to go for growing runner beans. Or maybe it will turn out that only Phaseolus vulgaris is suitable and more breeding work will be needed for the coccineus species. I smell a project coming on...

 
Steve Farmer
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I grow dwarf French beans bought from ebay.co.uk for the UK market. My soil is clay in full sun and temps get to mid 40s C in the summer. Germination rates are just above 50% and I get maybe 20 beans from each plant. I replant the seeds and the results are indistinguishable from the bought seeds. These dwarf beans work all year round, we dont get frost and we get very little cloud.
Never tried pole climbers.
 
Neil Layton
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If you only have one variety, then you will probably get beans get beans indistinguishable from the parents, because that variety won't have enough genetic material to create a distinct new hybrid (unless you get an important random mutation, which happens).

Runner beans need two things: regular watering (which you won't get naturally in the Portuguese summer, so you will have to irrigate) and temperatures that are warm but not too hot. This is less the case with the thin, round beans, which I call French beans, in the same way that we call other items "French letters" because someone has to get the blame, and it's better that it's someone else.

I digress.

Most seed-saving manuals talk about how to retain the genetic line, but that's not what we are trying to do here. There are two keys to the problem.

The first is simple Mendelian hybridisation: do with your beans what Mendel did with his peas. This means you need as much diversity as possible (sorry Burra, but two varieties are not going to cut it*). Runner beans are bee pollinated, but you can do the job artificially using an artist's paintbrush and an isolation bag.

Then you need to work out what traits you need. In this case, we want a bean:

* Able to tolerate higher temperatures.
* Setting flowers earlier (when it's cooler)
* Perhaps able to tolerate lower watering
* Able to grow in dappled shade in otherwise relatively intense sunlight.

Are there heritage varieties already showing some of these traits? I don't know, but it might be worth looking. "White Lady" apparently sets well in hot weather, so this might make good breeding material, but I can't find out whether breeder's rights still apply (here it should fall under the breeder's exemption anyway, and I suspect there will be a similar law in Portugal, so you should be okay). "Judión de la Granja" is grown in Spain. There is also the "botil bean" (P. coccineus var darwinianus) grown in Mexico.

This will be a matter of daily inspection. You need to hand-pollinate individuals showing any of these traits with other individuals showing any of these traits, then keep the ripe beans. Simple evidence of hybridisation will come from beans that are a slightly different shape or colour, but many traits will be hidden until you plant the beans next year, so you need to keep any likely hybrid, even ones without obvious changes.

You can keep particularly good parent material by digging up the tuber and overwintering it away from frost.

Another important thing to note is that runner beans and French beans will cross so, depending on what you are after, this might also be worth pursuing, because French beans do better in higher temperatures. There is at least one runner bean-French bean hybrid available commercially which will apparently set flowers in any weather, according to the marketing. There is nothing stopping you doing the same. It is also worth pointing out that the French bean is botanically the same species as most other commercially available podded beans (except broad beans - Vicia faba). At some point you are going to drift away from the idea of the runner bean, but this is about controlled breeding.

Secondly, it's also possible that the extreme, for runner beans, conditions may trip an epigenetic switch enabling one plant to produce pods better in those conditions: again, using this as controlled parent material is probably a good idea. This should show up in the growth habit and flower production of the parent, but the changed gene expression should be passed on to the offspring.


* One, in your case. In answer to your question, Burra, what I think you have there is a mislabeled pack. I might have wondered if you had a P. coccineus with a more French bean (P. vulgaris) type, but what I see is P. vulgaris bean with a P. vulgaris label being called a runner bean. It may be that they are distinguishing between growth habits. Maybe what they call French beans have a dwarf habit and what they call runner beans have a climbing habit, but I would make the distinction by species. I think you have a mislabeled French bean there. Indeed, I've had a look at other retailers, and they are all calling that variety French beans.
 
Burra Maluca
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OK, so just to be absolutely clear, what you are interested in growing is flat podded Phaseolus coccineus, with very little interest in tall versions of French beans, unless they happen to hybridise with a round-podded type.

I'm gonna go read up a bit more on the coccineus species, and maybe bribe Joseph Lofthouse to come and offer any advice he can spare us.
 
Neil Layton
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Burra Maluca wrote:OK, so just to be absolutely clear, what you are interested in growing is flat podded Phaseolus coccineus, with very little interest in tall versions of French beans, unless they happen to hybridise with a round-podded type.

I'm gonna go read up a bit more on the coccineus species, and maybe bribe Joseph Lofthouse to come and offer any advice he can spare us.


Um. Kind of, for two reasons. One is that, while I will eat French beans (the round ones) if put in front of me I prefer runner beans (the flat ones). That's just a matter of personal preference.

The second is that French beans will generally grow reasonably well in warm temperatures, and would probably already be reasonably successful in Portugal). Runner beans won't do that. It's about extending the growing range of the runner bean, among other things into forest garden habitats, rather than the open ground of a conventional garden: it's a challenge with a purpose. One of those purposes is the awareness that climate change means we need more resistant crops.

French beans may well have desirable traits we can breed in to runner beans, and this has already been done commercially. If they can do it, then we can.
 
Burra Maluca
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OK, a little rummaging on the internet and I found this - Feijao de espanha or Spanish Bean, aka feijoca, which is a coccineus species if wikkipedia is to be believed.

As it happens, I bought some beans labelled feijoca a few weeks ago. I even took photos as it was for the Beans of Portugal thread that I still haven't updated.





Unfortunately the ones I bought were infested with weevils and I soaked them in water to drown the weevils, forgot about them, let them turn mouldy and gave them to my other half yesterday to give to the chickens. I just asked him about them and he said they were too far gone for the chickens so he put them on the compost heap, but he's categorically forbidden me to go and dig them out again. Maybe I'll sneakily buy a few more...

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I planted runner beans 5 years in a row before I harvested my first seeds. I replanted those seeds, and was lucky to get any harvest at all because of farmer error. But I replanted the fresh seeds and the archive from the previous year, and finally was able to harvest an abundant crop.

Runner beans do not set seed well during hot weather. I suspect also not during times of low humidity. I typically have both during the summer. My first successful harvest was from a genetically-diverse landrace grown by a collaborator in the Central Valley of California, who is able to overwinter tubers, so her plants get a stronger/faster start in the spring and are able to beat the heat. Perhaps 15% of the plants from that landrace produced seed for me. It was enough to start selecting for traits that work in my garden.

The second year that I successfully grew runner bean seed, I had planted the seeds next to sunflowers so that they could grow up the sunflowers. That was a very bad choice, because the sunflowers way out-competed the runner beans. I harvested less seed than went into the ground. But what did produce was the most vigorous growing and the best at competing with sunflowers.

The third year, I planted my saved seed, and also some new varieties like I had in previous years. Some plants flowered like crazy, and didn't make any seed pods. Some plants didn't flower much at all, and some plants flowered and set lots of pods. I grow in full sun, so the plants that produce well for me have to do well in full sun. In different gardens, different genetics might favor growing in partial shade. The beauty of developing my own varieties from genetically-diverse starting materials is that I get to choose my growing methods, and the crops can adjust to my habits. Eventually, I expect to select for genetics that lead to better production of beans in hot/dry weather.

As a cultural technique, I think that growing in the shade might favor higher fruit set compared to growing in full sun. Getting the plants into the field as early as spring frosts are finished might help to avoid the summer heat. Higher soil moisture might favor setting fruit if temperatures are higher. Perhaps transplants can be put into the field right after the average last frost date to get more of a head-start to try to beat the weather. Perhaps a late summer planting would have time to mature seed in cooler fall weather.

Runner beans have cross pollination rates of around 20% to 60% or more depending on climate, so I let them cross-pollinate at will.

Crossing common beans with runner beans works best if runner beans are the pollen donor. My slow and steady approach to crossing runner beans and common beans, is to grow runner beans and bush beans right next to each other. (I did that last year.) If a cross occurred, the offspring are likely to have scarlet flowers and be pole beans. Then I can re-select for bush beans among the next generation. Or I could re-select for plants that resemble runner beans. Some of my runner beans have white flowers, and I grew some common pole beans. But none of my common beans have scarlet flowers, so if scarlet flowers show up in the common beans, that's a pretty good indication that the plant is a hybrid with runner beans.

How large are the feijoca beans? Runner Bean seeds tend to be much larger than common beans.

My experience with plant breeding for species that are way out of their native ecosystem, is that the more variety I can introduce, the more likely I am to find something that will work. The third generation seems like the magical generation to me, when the genetics are finally becoming locally adapted enough that they can thrive.

The following three photos were taken on the same day to demonstrate the huge differences between different plants. The beans were grown in the same row in full sun.

Plenty of flowers, but no fruits. Ha! I even caught a bumblebee pollinator in the photo. And some of my amaranth weeds.


Plenty of leaves, but few flowers.


An abundance of fruits.


If I would have wanted to make faster progress towards finding a variety that works really well in my garden, I could have culled the plants that were not making seeds. That would prevent them from shedding so much pollen into the patch. I didn't cull, because I am still at the point of mixing up the genetics. There might be something in those poor producers that may prove useful later on. My most generous definition of a successful plant is that it must produce at least one seed. It's hard to know if those plants produced pollen that ended up in a successful seed. But in general, plants that don't produce seed tend to self-eliminate. Plants that produce an abundance of seed tend to become the progenitors of new locally-adapted varieties. By locally-adapted I also mean adapted to the farmer and her habits.

Runner Bean Seeds:


My favorite runner bean flower last summer: Bi-colored.



Photo from original post... The smooth round pods of the packet labeled "Runner Beans -- Neckarkönigin" are archetypal of common beans. P. vulgaris. Definitely not P. coccineus.
 
Burra Maluca
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Wow, thanks for all that Joseph. I think I'm starting to form a plan. I also bought some more feijoca beans to start experimenting with and to answer your question -

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:How large are the feijoca beans? Runner Bean seeds tend to be much larger than common beans.


I photographed them next to my thumb.



As you can see, they are about the size of my thumbnail, but I guess men might have bigger thumbnails. You get the idea, anyway - they are pretty big. The first time I bought these I thought they might be a variety of butter-bean/lima-bean Phaseolus lunatus. Even with the scientific naming system in place, it's not always possible to be certain what you're buying with all the regional and language variations. Let's hope these really are coccineus! I have one more shop to search for local varieties, and then it's to the internet to find any varieties that might be suited to hot weather. Then to figure out where to plant them all...

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Burra: Those feijoca beans look like coccineus to me.
 
Neil Layton
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Burra: Those feijoca beans look like coccineus to me.


I concur. P. vulgaris beans would tend to be more ovoid and less flattened.
 
Burra Maluca
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Burra: Those feijoca beans look like coccineus to me.


Awesome! I might put a few on to soak and get them started early, just in case the frosts finish early this year.

Here's a few links about feijoca being grown in Portugal

http://www.feijocademanteigas.pt

http://canteirodamimi.blogspot.pt/2010/09/phaseolus-coccineus.html

The links above include photos of the flowers, which seem to be white, which might make identifying the crosses a bit more tricky.

Also this photo of them growing, almost creating a forest of their own!


photo from https://confrariafeijocamanteigas.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/187/
 
hans muster
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The white beans also look like P. coccineus to me.

The difference between P. vulgaris and P. coccineus can be seen with the cotyledons: in P. vulgaris they are above ground, in P. coccineus they are below ground. (Yes, I know species are a human construct, and that borders are arbitrary. But it helps sometimes.)
 
Neil Layton
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hans muster wrote:The white beans also look like P. coccineus to me.

The difference between P. vulgaris and P. coccineus can be seen with the cotyledons: in P. vulgaris they are above ground, in P. coccineus they are below ground. (Yes, I know species are a human construct, and that borders are arbitrary. But it helps sometimes.)


This is true, but we don't have images of the cotyledons (I suspect many readers wouldn't recognise one to begin with) - all we have to go on is images of the beans themselves.

The concept of "species" is a mess, but it gives us a useful point of reference. P. vulgaris and P. coccineus will hybridise, but not as readily as crosses within the respective groupings so, for our purposes, this makes them separate species.
 
Burra Maluca
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Neil Layton wrote:This is true, but we don't have images of the cotyledons (I suspect many readers wouldn't recognise one to begin with) - all we have to go on is images of the beans themselves.


Well I have some soaking. I'll plant a couple of them in pots and photograph what happens when they start to grow to see if they let their secrets out.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Burra Maluca wrote:Well I have some soaking. I'll plant a couple of them in pots and photograph what happens when they start to grow to see if they let their secrets out.


Too funny. I just finished planting 6 species of beans into pots. I'm intending to photograph them to make a poster of what the different kinds look like as seedlings. So in 3 days to a week, we could have photos of cotyledons.
 
Su Ba
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Burra & Joseph....sounds like fun. I never thought to pay much attention to the cotyledons. Now I'm gonna have to go out and take a closer look at my beans.

I'm actually trying runner beans for the first time here. I don't know if it's too warm, but we shall see. I planted some in full sun, then another section in semi-shade where it stays a few degrees cooler. My night temperature is running 52-58° F, and days are 74-78° F. I know that I should have sown them back in October or November, but I was just given the seeds this past week. But I figure it was worth experimenting anyway, so I planted them. I'll let you know what happens.
 
Joel Nisly
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Burra Maluca wrote:A fellow member recently posted this in another thread...

I've been discussing recently the prospects for growing runner beans (one of my favourite vegetables) in Portugal. Most people think this is hopeless, because high temperatures mean runner bean pods won't set. I wonder whether, with stronger sunlight, runner beans might grow well in annual beds in the dappled shade and lower temperatures of a forest garden, thus also providing another nitrogen fixer. Maybe we could breed a variety that might work.


Well that was like a red rag to a bull, so I consulted my other half and we started to pull a few ideas together. He is the one who loves 'green beans', and this is his green bean seed collection ready for planting this year.


My other half suspects that the problem is that the taller stems are more susceptible to catching the sun. A bush plant is, literally, bushier, and shades the stem better. With longer stems they just don't seem to be able to get any growth. With the few stems that did survive, the bean set wasn't bad, it seems that the problem might be with the stems, not the set. But of course, that's just how he remembers it, and he's not sure which of the two possible species it was, and it obviously needs more experimentation.

Shade is a valuable and scarce commodity here in Portugal, and a forest garden might indeed be the way to go for growing runner beans. Or maybe it will turn out that only Phaseolus vulgaris is suitable and more breeding work will be needed for the coccineus species. I smell a project coming on...


The problem with runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) for those of us in Medditeranean climate is that they won't set pods when temperatures are above 90°F since they are native to the mountains of Central America. Two years ago I tried to different varieties of Phaseolus coccineus with limited success. (I am in USDA Zone 9b in the Sacramento Valley of California.) I planted Scarlet runner and Sunset Runner, which is peach colored. The Sunset Runners did the best and set beans at temperatures a degree or two warmer than the Scarlet runners. The vines and foliage thrived all summer and they produced plenty of blooms. Bumblebees loved them, but they only set pods at the very beginning of summer before temperatures reached the 90's and then again when temperatures dropped in the fall. Phaseolus coccineus is a perennial with tubers that can overwinter in mild climates even after the tops have been destroyed by frost. Unfortunately, not one of mine grew back the next spring, even though the tubers were still in the ground and looked quite healthy. Runner beans can be used as cooked green beans or as dried beans when mature.

Last year, I found an excellent green bean that worked much better in the heat: yardlong bean (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis) This is a pole bean like the runner bean, but didn't produce much foliage and it is an annual. Instead, it puts its energy into producing beans and doesn't seem to care how hot the temperatures are. The green beans should be picked when they are about the thickness of a pencil and can be eaten fresh or cooked.
 
Hal Hurst
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I have had good luck growing Scarlet Runner beans in the winter in a cool garden in coastal Southern California, and I also experienced lack of fruiting when growing in the warmer season.

But I too have found yardlong beans (asparagus beans, chinese long beans, yardlong beans) a useful bean for a very hot summer microclimate I used to have- a half-enclosed greenhouse. Lots of beans in midsummer. Vines growing large enough I thought Jack would be showing up any day to climb them. Pick the beans at bout 18" though: if you try to make it to 36 inches they will be getting tough.

When saving seed, nothing could be simpler- just leave pods on the vine until they get dry, and pick the whole pods and coil them up together like a sheaf. When you plant, uncoil a pod (about 18" long) and bury it whole in a furrow for an intensive planting, spaced out as Nature apparently intended, about 1/2 to 1 inches. I let down strings from a series of screws driven into the eaves of the building and staked them to the ground near each seedling. These were raised planters in front of South facing windows, and the strings angled up and to the South where the plants wanted to grow anyway. The beans climbed the strings and when they leafed out they shaded my window from the hot summer sun. Altogether a happy experience, which I plan to repeat if possible in years to come. The stalks left in place will dry and offer support for a winter growing of snap peas, or next year's crop.

There are at least a few varieties that I have tried, and they would probably swap genetics to make a land race with a little nudge from the farmer through culling and the like, as you have been trying in Portugal. The pods are just slightly asparagus-y in taste, a bit sweeter than the Blue Lake, or that may be the power of suggestion.

anyway, abundant gardening adventures!
your bud,

Hal Hurst
 
Hans Quistorff
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Here in maritime climate When I heard about this thread I thought 'what problems growing scarlet runners they will endure anything.' But last year was the first time we had stretches of 90F weather in a long time.
I planted them along the fence at the chiropractors office for the decorative blossoms and some came up from tubers the next year. I remember being surprised some 30 years ago when lima beans came up from tubers. I had not heard of that before then.

Su Ba should have good success in her climate; they may prove to be perennial there or at least come back from the tubers.

To eat them as green beans pick them small when they look like bush beans. once they start to fill they develop a tough envelope that protects the developing seed.

Bean leaves suffer here if they get disturbed when wet. So perhaps planting where they get morning sun to dry any dew but get afternoon shade to avoid overheating is a good plan.
 
Wendy Howard
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Going back to the original question, where in Portugal are these runner beans to be grown? The climate varies quite a bit north to south. Most of the country is either CSa or CSb according to the Köppen classifications with a small area of BSk further south; USDA zones 9a to 12a. Average annual rainfall can range from less than 0.6m (24") in the southeast to over 2.8m (110") in the northwest. Mean annual temperatures (excluding the mountaintops) can range from 10°C (50°F) to 18°C (64°F).

I'm in Central Portugal in the Serra do Açor, part of the main northeast-southwest running mountain range which includes the Serra da Estrela, containing mainland Portugal's highest peak at 2000m (6500'). Few people seem to have any problems growing Phaseolus coccineus here, and I'm guessing the same applies for anywhere north of here and further south to the northern boundaries of the Alentejo. Locals generally grow them on stick tipis which provide shading for the stems and they're everywhere in June. They can die back in July/August which are the hottest months, but I've kept them going with successional planting through these months in beds partially shaded by fruit trees and with the root zone well protected by mulch and other plants, so a forest garden situation should work. At least in the Centre and North. They need irrigation - pretty much everything does with next to no rain for 4-5 months in summer - but with the improvements I'm seeing in my soils after 5 years of compost-making and heavy mulching to build up organic matter, they do fine with watering every 4-5 days.
 
Dave Smythe
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I have tried growing runner beans from the UK in the mediterranean climate in San Jose, CA and they don't do well.
I have had better success with "Romano Pole Beans" a flat podded variety, the well known Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans,
and lately some "Spanish Musica Pole Beans".

Dave
 
Burra Maluca
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Wendy Howard wrote:Going back to the original question, where in Portugal are these runner beans to be grown?


I'm about 100km south of you, where the summers are more brutal, the winters milder, and the soil really, really thin! I don't think I've seen anyone growing runner beans around here. But, if they grow where you are, I guess it shouldn't be too difficult to develop a strain that does. I'm still gathering seed from various sources.

I'm also thinking of doing an experiment here.



Apparently wild coccineus grow in pine/oak woodlands, so I'm going to stick a few feicoja seed in that bit, which is on a north facing slope, and just stand back and watch what happens. I'm not hopeful that any will survive unless I water them, which would be difficult, but it might prove an interesting experiment regardless.
 
Wendy Howard
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Burra Maluca wrote:I'm about 100km south of you, where the summers are more brutal, the winters milder, and the soil really, really thin! I don't think I've seen anyone growing runner beans around here. But, if they grow where you are, I guess it shouldn't be too difficult to develop a strain that does. I'm still gathering seed from various sources.


Soils are very thin here too, especially on the steeper slopes. Are you on schist or granite? (Or possibly limestone? sand?) I've seen 45°C in summer, but my quinta is predominantly north-facing and in a stream valley so never as hardcore as the south-facing slopes. The stream runs all year except in exceptional summers like 2012, so it stays relatively lush. Have you checked the local markets for feijão starts? If they're selling them, chances are they'll grow in the area. I know they're not organic or heirloom or anything like that, but they're selected for the climate. These are the ones I started with.

Apparently wild coccineus grow in pine/oak woodlands, so I'm going to stick a few feicoja seed in that bit, which is on a north facing slope, and just stand back and watch what happens. I'm not hopeful that any will survive unless I water them, which would be difficult, but it might prove an interesting experiment regardless.


VERY interesting! Please report on success or otherwise! I might even try the same. It would be good to get more nitrogen fixers into the pine/oak/chestnut. I haven't had much time to devote to the woodland areas, apart from thinning and clearing windblow and planting a few N-fixing trees and some medronheiro, but may well use my turn for our local permablitz next month to put in a series of small check logs for soil building and water slowing. If we get rain into April it might be worth a try.

BTW, love your forum name!
 
Liz Green
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Hi Burra,

Good luck with your bean project!

While I am far from an expert, I looked up runner beans a while back and found that some retailers are a bit confused about what to call the various beans as they do not always understand the distinctions. Both common beans (french beans or whatever) and scarlet runner bean types (which of course do not always have scarlet flowers) can come in dwarf or climbing varieties. (leaving out the other varieties such as snake beans just to simplify things.)

I had problems getting scarlet runner climbing bean plants to produce pods in hot weather when i lived in Sydney; hosing the plants daily helped, as did growing them on a fence which shaded them from the hottest afternoon sunlight. When i returned to NZ, in my first summer here my scarlet runners flowered but then the flowers fell off; it was too hot and dry and i was short of water (tank water) so they seldom got watered. This summer I grew four different varieties of climbing green beans - common and "scarlet" - i grew the "scarlets" up through raspberry bushes which helped to shade their roots, kept them well mulched, gave them dolomite (for calcium) and kelp, and kept them well watered. they were slow to produce in our hot summer here in the top of the south, and some flowers fell, but they have produced steadily and reasonably well for some weeks now. the trellis they are growing on also shades them a little, which does seem to help.

Your summers are probably hotter than ours.

A few years ago in Sydney when we were consistently getting several days over 40 degrees C in summer, my most reliable, heavy producers of tasty pods were snake beans, which hardly grew at all until the hot weather struck, then they would suddenly grow incredibly fast and produce well. they had to be picked often and were very heavy croppers. the other reliable producer was a climbing "french" (common) bean called Purple King, which is known by other names in other countries; it was unusually hardy in both hot and cold weather on a heavy clay soil as long as it got a bit of water fairly often. Very tasty, tender pods but the colour is offputting to some - the purple colour of the pods fades a bit on cooking but is still perceptibly purplish green rather than plain green. I plan to grow it again here.

Hope this helps.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I also grow them, especially because they are perenial for me.
Remember that they are subtropical from highland, so cool weather.
-> may be just start them earlier, they stand more coolness than p.vulgaris.

If you grow them as annual: the bulb is edible.
I do not know how much freeze they can stand and how to protect them...

Nature does not grow naked poles, so I conclude that climbing plants prefer part shade: they grow their way up where it is best for them.
I had problems with other plants clmbing in sunflower, and discovered that sunflower inhibitate other plants....
They become better poles after diying!

I would try a mix with basella, as tthey help to shade. I grow them on canarian tagasate or on cajanus cajan. This year I try to mix the runner bean in this companion panting I did (pigeon pea, air potatoe and basella)

I am surprise if vulgaris and coccineus could cross...!?

coccineus cross more than vulgaris, in its own species. p.coccineus does not need hand polination, but if you bag them, you need to shake them gently, as would do wind or humming insects.

I also grow lima, which is really great here, also perenial, and for hot weather, snake bean are a must = vigna, it is NOT a phaseolus.
 
Wendy Howard
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Burra Maluca wrote:I'm about 100km south of you, where the summers are more brutal, the winters milder, and the soil really, really thin! I don't think I've seen anyone growing runner beans around here.


I just checked with friends the other side of the mountains between Idanha a Nova and Monsanto. I don't know how close that is to you but they're quite a bit warmer than here in the summer and they can grow them without difficulty.
 
Neil Layton
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:
I am surprise if vulgaris and coccineus could cross...!?


So was I, and I've just been back to have a look at what the breeder and retailers actually say, rather than just imply.

What they say is that it "combines the best attributes" of runner beans and French beans, but botanically it's still being classed as P. coccineus, not as a hybrid. It may just be an impressive breeding job with P. coccineus alone.
 
leila hamaya
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i have seen crosses of the french beans and runners, so it must be possible.

those white ones...well i could be wrong here, but i think they are different than most other runners. here they are usually called "sweet white runners" and also called "half runners". i think the "half runner" part refers to the vines not getting as long? but it could be thats something else, not sure.

they are considered the tastiest of all the runners...anyway. i ve read that they come from greece? or are popular in greece and surrounding areas? again not totally sure but that sticks in my mind...cause when i read it i was confused as i thought all runners came from south/central america?
 
Hal Hurst
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Shooting from the hip- maybe "half-runner" means a hybrid between a runner and something else.
 
Burra Maluca
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

My favorite runner bean flower last summer: Bi-colored.




My favourite so far has scarlet and pink!



 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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