Runner beans are grown throughout the United States for the delicious multicoloured beans they produce and for the added bonus of the brilliant scarlet flowers that light up any garden. Saving seeds from one season to the next saves money and provides a valuable way to preserve a favourite variety of runner bean and create heirloom seeds that are passed down from one generation to another. Runner bean seeds can be saved with little trouble so the gardener can develop seeds from runner bean plants that are selected for their most desirable characteristics and create cultivars that can be enjoyed for years to come.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Paper towel
- Sealed jar
Choose plants that are among the healthiest in the garden and exhibit the most desirable characteristics of the runner bean plant. Personal preferences may include the colour or flavour of the bean, the hardiness of the plant, or the way the flower petals form and the degree of colour they achieve.
Allow the seeds to fully mature on the vine until the petals start to fall and the pods are dry and turning a brownish colour with the seeds rattling inside. Maturation can take up to a month after the seeds are normally harvested for consumption. Immature seeds will not germinate.
Harvest the pods by pinching or pulling them off the vine at the stem.
Lay the harvested pods out in a single layer in a well-ventilated room in the house at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
Dry the pods for a minimum of two weeks and twice that long if desired.
Use your fingers to pull open the pods or to pull the string at the bottom of the pod that acts like a zipper. Deposit the seeds in a single layer on a flat surface covered with a paper towel and dry for at least one week in a well-ventilated room at room temperature.
Store the seeds in a sealed jar or envelope in a cool, dry place with all pertinent information written on the label with a marker. The information should include the type of seed, date it was saved, the colour and shape of the flower, and any specifics regarding why it was selected to be saved.
Tips and warnings
- Save some of the stored seeds back when planting to keep in reserve in case the first crop fails for any reason.
- As plants are identified that are to be saved, tie a ribbon around the stalk so they can be easily spotted at harvest.
- Use seeds the season after being saved or otherwise they will lose their vitality and not produce seeds good enough to continue saving.
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