It seems to be turning into one of those ‘funny’ years for growing vegetables. A lot of people have reported that their runner beans are very slow and not doing as well as expected, almost as many have been amazed at the height their potatoes have reached, me included, mine are just over waist high and still seem to be getting taller.
My plum tomatoes are really healthy and doing brilliantly yet the ‘Gardener’s Delight’ tomatoes in the pot right next to them are looking dreadful but they were planted several weeks before the plums so the compost could be a bit tired by now.
In the photo above, the runner beans on the left have an unhealthy touch of lime green about them, they should be the same colour as the ones on the right. They do have nice flowers though.
If any of your plant leaves are looking a bit yellow and you have ruled out pests, they could probably do with feeding. It is getting to the time particularly in you are growing things like runner beans, tomatoes or courgettes in containers or pots that your compost is starting to run out of steam. Start watering your plants with a basic seaweed or comfrey or organic liquid fertiliser, do not be tempted to mix it up stronger than recommended thinking that it will improve your plants quicker it could damage or kill them. Try and feed them once a week. I tend to mix my liquid feed up at half strength and feed everything twice a week. I reckon that as most of my veggies are in pots and where they have to be watered more than ones in the ground it washes nutrients out of the soil/compost quicker. So feeding them at a lower strength more often gives me the idea that they have a more consistent level of food. I hasten to add that I have not read this or heard it being recommended anywhere it is just my warped female logic.
Once I can see tiny courgettes, beans, tomatoes etc I use a liquid feed that is especially made for tomatoes. Generally you need a slightly different feed for when your vegetables are ‘fruiting’ to when they are developing leaves and flowers.
If you plants are looking really sad you can perk them up quite quickly with a foliar feed, I used a liquid seaweed feed that I spray on the leaves, do check the instructions to see if it is suitable on some feeds it states not to get it on the leaves.
If your runner beans are not growing as much as you expected them to or any other plant, especially if you are in pots or containers they might not be getting enough water. When you think about the leaf area on half a dozen runner beans it does add up to a lot of leaf. Even if it is not a hot day your plants will still be losing water all the time through their leaves which needs to be replaced. If it rains you will probably still need to water as not enough will get through to the roots, a lot of the rain will be deflected by the leaves on to the ground. Don’t forget the same will apply to fruit, if strawberries and raspberries have small fruit on them they need more water and possibly food.
This is my first courgette of the year which is destined to become part of a stir fry with home grown carrots, spinach, kale with the addition of some store bought cashews, ginger and lime juice tomorrow.
My big tubs that have eight runner beans growing in them get about ¾ gallon most days. If you are growing them in the ground, giving them a good soaking once or twice a week is the best way as it encourages the plants to grow longer deeper roots that will seek out any water lurking deep down and the roots will dry out less.