Here’s a little tip to help encourage pollinators to your garden and especially to specific crops like runner beans.
Runner beans are generally easy to grow and will grow like crazy once they get going. However, they can seem to take forever to send up the first shoots and then even longer to get to something that looks like it might be capable of climbing the “pride-and-joy” that is your A-frame.
Because of this, when we sow or transplant runner beans we like to use the space between the rows to grow a quick crop like radishes. Depending on the variety and the weather, we can usually get two to three crops out before the beans have grown large enough to smother the radishes.
However, if you don’t get all the radishes up in time don’t worry. Just let them go to seed and they’ll produce beautiful little flowers that the bees just love. These flowers will poke out from between your bean plants and attract all sorts of pollinators well before the bean flowers appear, so that when they do flower the pollinators are already waiting for them.
The radishes don’t interfere with the runner beans and if anything they add to the soil structure, especially if you leave the roots in the ground when you finally lift them after the beans have finished. It’s also a really good idea to leave the runner bean roots in the ground as the little nodules on their roots help fix nitrogen into the soil.