Every allotment across the country will have plots studded with elongated wigwams. If, back in early spring, you were wondering what they were, July offers the answer: they are supports for runner beans.
A late starter, the bean needs warm soil. The legume lives up to its name by shooting up bamboo poles quickly through May and June before throwing out a host of red flowers. These are pollinated by bees and soon long pods develop. The beans need to be picked young – not more than 8-9 inches long – and steamed or boiled and then tossed in butter. Old runner beans can be stringy and the husks around the growing seeds can feel like a mouthful of sandpaper, so is best avoided.