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Best ways to get runner bean tubers to overwinter and regrow quickly?  RSS feed

 
Brian White
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I grow "stringless" runner bean varieties. I love the productivity of these little beasts. If you keep the plant watered and you keep picking pods before the beans get big inside you can get months of production. Both in Ireland and in Canada, some of the runner bean "tubers" overwinter. But the success rate for me has been fairly low. I do now know why. Maybe only one in 5 survived the winter. Many tubers rotted or got devoured by woodlice. Why? Just up the road from me Barbara has beans from tubers that have already set flowers and have baby runner beans growing fast. Mine have just put up their first shoots. How are hers so much earlier? I have runner beans in flower from seed, I saw humming birds visit them today, but the other guys (from tuber) have barely moved. BUT there are 4 or 4 shoots coming from one tuber. Can we divide it to make 5 plants?
and here is the tuber , it only came out of hibernation last week but now it seems to be growing furiously. Anyone know how to wake them up much earlier, Like Barbara's beans?
 
André Troylilas
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I just don't know, but would really like to know.
My "Orteils de Prêcheurs" overwintered, but haven't started growing anything yet...
 
Galadriel Freden
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Mine look like yours, Brian. I've never done it, but I've heard you can dig them up and store them over winter in a frost free place, then start them into growth indoors. I've done this successfully with dahlia tubers--stored them in a dark cupboard then planted them in pots in my kitchen in February. Never tried with runner beans though.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I don't have anything to contribute to the discussion about overwintering runner bean tubers. However, something growing in a pot has radically different growing conditions than something growing in the ground.
 
Brian White
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That is a good contribution, Joseph! Barbara's are in the ground and these ones of mine are in a pot and they are the first to grow, but I do have other tubers that are still alive in the ground. Some rotted earlier in the year and the woodlice seem to be the main enemy. . I have had over wintering runner beans come back in Ireland in the ground, and here too, but never had any meaningful production from them. But I have seen barbs and they were still producing lots in late september, while now they already have baby beans on them! I would love to know what the trigger is for them to start growing again. Maybe heat or longer days, I don't know.
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I don't have anything to contribute to the discussion about overwintering runner bean tubers. However, something growing in a pot has radically different growing conditions than something growing in the ground.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I wonder if Barbara's runner beans have been selected to thrive when grown from tubers?

 
Gail Vance
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I left my scarlet runners in the ground, hoping to find out if they were indeed perennial. Reading through this thread makes me wonder if putting some plastic down after last frost might warm up the soil and get them started faster. Essentially, that is what you are doing when you start seeds inside, having warm soil etc.
 
jacque greenleaf
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I don't have anything to contribute to the discussion about overwintering runner bean tubers. However, something growing in a pot has radically different growing conditions than something growing in the ground.


True, and some plants think this is OK. Some don't.

I grow my dahlias in pots, to save them from whatever rodents find them tasty. (Yacon is basically a dahlia.) And since I'm lazy, I bring the pots inside at first frost and let them dry slowly, without digging them up. Pots go back outside when the tubers have woken up and sent up green sprouts.

I've decided to try treating Black and Blue Salvia the same way in the future. The smaller one I had in a pot from last year sprouted a good two weeks before the large one in the ground, undoubtedly because its roots noticed the warmer weather sooner.

So sure, I'd try doing this for runner beans. And it may be that warmer root temps will wake them up sooner. Then when I put the pots outside, I'd figure out a way to keep them a bit warmer than ambient. Prop up some old windows around them? They wouldn't need it for long.

Another thing I'm going to try this year - drilling holes in the sides of the pots that the dahlias are living in, and sinking them into the ground for the summer.
 
Tristan Vitali
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I wonder if Barbara's runner beans have been selected to thrive when grown from tubers?



Was going to reply to this yesterday but then my laptop battery went blewy on me! Decided to chance it and see if things go better this time

This is very possibly the case (selected for regrowth) as in most of the seed catalogs I've seen, runner beans aren't even advertised as being perennial. Brian - see if you can find out what cultivar she's growing and maybe grab some seed or a tuber to trial at your site.

Planning to do runner beans here next year - doubt they'll make it through our winters but with enough snow cover, you never know. If nothing else, they're supposed to be not nearly as picky with the warm soils and lots of sun requirements as the regular old pole beans we've been growing. Is anyone familiar with the different runner bean cultivars and their regrowth vigor? So far, I've been mainly looking at seed color for an indicator of sprouting temps (the darker the seed, the more tolerant of cool soils is what I've seen). Many have beautifully mottled black/red/purple seeds so that *must* be a good sign. Our kentucky wonders are medium-tan and wont sprout until soil temp's in the 70*F range (early to middle June) while the provider bush bean, with lightly purple seed, sprouts between 65*F and 68*F (middle to late May). I'd love to get that extra 2-4 weeks on the pole beans if we can, but reliably perennial trumps "sprouting temp" any day in my book

 
Michi Harper
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Location: Denton, TX
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Tristan Vitali wrote:
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Brian - see if you can find out what cultivar she's growing and maybe grab some seed or a tuber to trial at your site.

I would be happy to test them for heat tolerance, here, in North Central Texas.
Michi
 
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