Runner Bean Trench

Today I dug my runner bean trench.  That’s when I know that the vegetable season has really taken off.  The only problem was that the raised bed still had purple sprouting broccoli and red onions growing in it.  The broccoli has been sweet and tasty but has not produced many heads. I was holding out for a few more before I cut it down but I needed the space so out it had to come.  I harvested a good armful of broccoli leaves though. They make a rather good cabbage substitute.  The onions were more difficult – they aren’t mature yet but I needed the space so I pulled them up to eat in salads.  I left a few in the middle to grow a bit bigger, along with some self-seeded nigella which is just too lovely to dig out.

Then on with the fun.  Here is my recipe for success.  First dig a trench along one edge of the bed:


Then fill it with damp newspaper:



Make sure you do the sudoku first. Then add a layer of rotted compost:

Then a sprinkling of dried seaweed meal. Pile the earth back on and do the same on the other three sides.


Finished product with an island of onions and nigella in the middle, and my grandmother’s border spade.

The beans themselves are sitting in pots in the seedhouse to give them a bit of protection from cold nights.  DSCN5257

I’ll plant them out in a couple of weeks time with a wigwam of poles to hold them up.  I’ve done it this way for years and it seems to work.  Here’s last year’s bean flowers with self-seeded borage:


This year they have a little educational material to help them on. My boys have been clearing out their bedroooms after exams. Some of their history jotters, maths homework and some music went in the trench along with the newspaper. (It was all in the paper recycling bin so I hope it was finished with).

music compost

6 thoughts on “Runner Bean Trench

  1. You’ve done well to keep the broccoli for so long… I guess it would start flowering soon, so you probably won’t get much more anyway but the juggle to move from one season’s crop to another….

  2. You have given me a great idea, thank you. I have lots of paper that I cannot burn as not allowed, but cannot put in recycle as private stuff. So now I will just compost it, they are old bank statements etc… and I love beans so it will be a winner on both counts. Great photos and info!

  3. I do like the idea of using all the old school work in such a productive way – what could be better than converting it into something nourishing and delicious!
    I don’t bother with a trench for my beans as I go for the no-dig approach, but I do plant the beans into a hole with plenty of good muck in the bottom, which probably achieves the same thing (but with less work – I’m all for that idea!).

    1. It’s really the only thing that I dig – it has a certain symbolic quality of getting the season started. Everything else gets put in holes in raised beds – good luck with your beans

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