Runner Bean Tenderstar is the fantastic result of 15 years of British breeding; a real breakthrough. Although Tenderstar is a runner bean, this cross has many of the desirable qualities of French beans, with pods being smooth, fleshy and especially stringless.
The pods are exceptionally tender and flavoursome. It is also virtually self-setting meaning it is a prolific cropper and can be grown in isolation if need be. Pods are an impressive 20cm (8in) long and are sweet enough to eat raw straight off the plant as a great snack.
The flowers are a unique bicolour of red and pink too, so make an attractive climber.
Sow individual seeds in 8cm (3in) pots filled with seed compost and keep pots in a frost-free greenhouse while frosts are likely. Keep compost moist but not saturated at all times. Accustom the young plants to outside conditions by day for 2-3 weeks before planting them to their permanent position outdoors. Ensure supports are in place before planting outdoors. Allow 46cm (18 ½ in) between rows and 20-30cm (8-12in) between plants.
Runner bean seeds are sensitive to cold, wet soils and will not germinate in unfavourable conditions. We recommend that you do not sow seeds outdoors until mid May.
Direct sow in mid May outdoors to a depth of 5cm (2in). Allow 46cm (18 ½ in) between rows and 20-30cm (8-12in) between plants. Ensure wig-wam or other supports are in place before direct sowing.
Water at the base of the plants generously mornings or evening from seedling stage. Water both mornings and evenings in particularly dry spells.
When in flower provide a mist spray of water to the leaves and flowers, in addition to watering at the base of the plants, to encourage flower and bean production.
If growing in an exposed site provide a windbreak to reduce wind-damage.
Harvest and freezing
Pick the beans when they are young and tender to encourage plants to remain productive longer. Runner beans freeze well. Simply slice and blanche them in boiling water for up to two minutes. Then drain and cool before bagging them up for freezing.
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