Champion show grower John Trim runs us through the details of pick and staging of exhibition runner beans for the show bench in this third article of three on show growing runner beans.
This is Part Two of Three Parts on Exhibition Runner Beans:
- Exhibition Runner Beans for Horticultural Show
- Cultivation of Exhibition Runner Beans for Horticultural Show
- Staging of Exhibition Runner Beans for Horticultural Show
Picking the Runner Beans to Show
The size your beans attain will be decided a couple of days before the show. Anything between 16”/40cm and 17”/44cm is ideal. If you find you have prominent beans showing and that bean does not pass the ‘pop test’ then select your beans at a shorter length, quality is what you are looking for, not the longest.
The Pop Test for Runner Beans
If you notice the beans just beginning to swell grasp a pod between finger and thumb and give it a gentle squeeze. If you hear a pop, nine times out of ten the bean will then snap clean with no strings. ‘No pop, discard the bean’. The beans should also be the same width over all their length. Try and avoid those with skinny necks.
Uniform Runner Beans for Show
Beans grow overnight and can put on in excess of an inch in length in 24 hours. Pick the beans leaving a long stalk with a heel . The first bean picked is the master. This is the one that is used as the template for picking all the other beans. Using a master bean means you will get a uniform matching set. Hopefully the same length, width and colour.
As the beans are picked they are rolled into a damp cotton towel. The towel will actually hold the beans straight. The towel of beans is given a good soak each morning as more beans are added to the roll.
Another method of storing the beans is to use a large paint rolling tray with a reservoir at one end. This is lined with a damp towel and the beans are arranged on the towel with the stalk end in the reservoir which is filled with water. Another damp towel is laid over the top of the beans. Stored in a cool dark shed or garage the beans will remain in perfect condition for several days, as long as the reservoir is kept topped up.
Benching or Staging of Exhibition Runner Beans
Put a 2”/50mm block under the top of the board to incline it towards the judge. Trim all the stalks to the same length. Arrange the beans with all the stalks at the top of the board and all facing in the same direction.
Cover with a damp cloth and don’t forget your entry and variety card.