The runner beans have finished for another year

I think I have written in previous articles that runner beans are probably my favourite vegetable. I always find it a sad time of year when I pull them up for another season.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 4:40 pm

Despite having a good crop and being able to have beans with most meals for the last couple of months we have managed to freeze quite a few pounds and make half a dozen jars of runner bean chutney. It is delicious with cold ham and other cold meats during the winter months and so easy to make.

Slice two lbs (900g) of runner beans, one and a half pounds (675g) sliced onions, one heaped tablespoon of cornflower, one tablespoon of turmeric, one heaped tablespoon of mustard powder, one pound (450g) soft brown sugar, one pound (450g) demerara sugar and one and a half pints of vinegar.

Cook the beans in boiling salted water until tender, drain well. Cook the onions in half a pint of the vinegar until soft. Mix the sugar, cornflower, turmeric, mustard with the rest of the vinegar until it becomes a smooth paste.

Add to the onion mixture with the beans and boil for about half an hour until thickened. Let it cool, then pack the chutney into sterilised jars. Leave to mature for a couple of months.

Having pulled the beans up and stacked the poles away for next year, I have started digging the ground over.

Although I am a firm advocate of crop rotation, runner beans are one of the few crops that seem to benefit from being grown in the same position each year.

I mentioned last week that we have had our annual delivery of manure on the allotment. Runner beans put on a lot of growth and produce so many pods, it is very important that you put plenty of organic matter into the ground ready for next year’s crop.

After getting out a good trench I am now digging in the manure. I always like to get this job done as soon as the beans have been removed, as I think it gives the worms a chance to mix the manure with the soil over the winter.

Talking of worms, always reminds me of the lovely story that the late Dave Allen told.

Patrick was digging his allotment one Sunday morning, when the local priest came along. “Hello Patrick, would there be any chance you could dig me up a couple of worms/”

“Are you going fishing?” asked Patrick. “No,” said the priest, “I only had six people in my congregation at church this morning, yet when I came past the pub it was full.

“I have been asked to take the local school assembly in the morning and I want to show the children why they should come to church rather than the pub when they grow up.”

Patrick dug up two worms and the priest put them in his match box. Next morning the priest stood up on the stage and all the children were sitting on the floor in front of him.

“Now children, I have two glasses here. One has whisky in it and the other is full of water. Now I have two worms. The first I drop into the water and look, the worm is swimming about quite happily.

“Now the second worm I drop into the whisky and look it has died instantly. What does that prove to you?”

Little Johnny put his hand up. “Please sir, If you drink whisky you will never get worms.”