Best Buy runner beans
Runner beans are one of the most popular vegetables in the UK as they're easy to grow and plants produce huge crops. Many newer varieties have been crossed with French beans to make them reliably produce beans even in poor weather, but do these taste as good?
Choosing the best varieties will make a big difference to how big a yield you'll get and how tasty and tender the beans are. Which? Gardening has grown and tasted 18 varieties of runner beans to see how they compare. The best-performing varieties are in the table below.
How we trialled runner beans
We grew 18 varieties of runner beans in our trial. We started off our seeds in a greenhouse in modular trays containing in early May. They were ready to plant out at the beginning of June, after all danger of frost had passed. We grew each variety up its own wigwam of six canes, planting two plants per cane. We watered regularly and controlled weeds by hoeing.
Our experts assess the emergence of the seedlings, the vigour of the plants and the characteristics of each variety, such as height and bushiness, flower colour and length, and colour and shape of pods. The pods were picked weekly from the beginning of August into early October. Three times during the season we rated the skin quality and stringiness of typical pods.