|Wigwams of canesor thin poles|
|Picking runner bean|
The runner bean Phaseolus coccineus originated in south America and is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant or for food. In the UK we grow the plant against wigwams of canes or thin poles at least 2 metres high. The seeds are planted in early summer in soil that has had compost, or well rotted manure added and is well watered. They can also be grown in large pots of compost.The young plants coil around the supports and soon produce clusters of red flowers. The fleshy green pods are picked when young (when they are about as thick as your little finger). Regular picking and watering of the plants ensures that the plants continue to produce beans until mid to late autumn. Several kilos can be harvested from 4 – 6 plants in one season.
The pods are sliced and are boiled in salted water until tender when they are drained and served with a knob of butter added to them. They are excellent when used to make “fasooliah” or “istanbuli” rice. If the pods are left too long they become stringy but the beans can be removed from the pod and cooked fresh or dried. Young pods can be washed, sliced and blanched for 3-5 minutes in boiling water then drained, allowed to cool then placed in plastic bags and frozen.
These versatile plants could be grown under irrigation in Kurdistan. They can be grown throughout Europe and are often grown in the USA as ornamental plants because of their bright red flowers and climbing ability.
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