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Increase pollination by planting sweet peas with your runner beans

sweet peas and runner beansWe have had bumper crops of runner beans for three years now. I am sure that part of the reason for this is because I have planted sweet peas with my runner beans. The combination is beneficial for both. The scented sweet pea flowers attract insects and this increases the pollination and yield of the runner beans.

They are perfect companions. Both are greedy and flourish in a border rich in home made compost. They need quite a bit of watering so the automatic watering system is doubled in this section of the kitchen garden. They both need to be picked regularly to extend their harvests. I’ve also discovered that when I tend one I automatically check the development and needs of the other.

They also look great growing together. When I go down to the kitchen garden to pick some beans for supper I often return with a fragrant bunch of sweet peas as well.

Germinate the sweet pea seeds in small pots, starting them well before planting the runner beans seeds. By the time the sweet peas are ready to be planted out they should be reasonably strong plants.

I set a pot full of sweet peas (roughly 5-6 plants) in between each of the runner bean canes on the sunny side of the row.

It’s a bit late to plant sweet pea seeds now but small pots are still available from nursery gardens. If you are lucky you might find them for sale on a wayside stall.

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  1. I have not seen a single Bee in my Garden this year
    I was told Magpies are eating bees and we are plagued by lots of Magpies I have lots of flowers in my garden and I chose Marigolds inbetween the Beans as they also help keep greenfly away
    the flowers are in abundance on my beans but no beans appear to be forming

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kay

    Thank you so much. Danny always wonders why I keep cables. I didn’t know myself until I read this!

  3. Hi Jane – Fiona’s idea is a good one, but my dogs drink the milk, given half a chance!

    For cane crops you can try winding old copper wire round the lowest six inches of the cane, making sure it starts right at ground level and the spiral is about half an inch (so that a slug of average size would find it’s head and tail both touching copper) – they hate copper and usually give up after the first touch of it. If they are really horrible, try wrapping the bottom of your canes in tinfoil and binding it on with copper wire, that gives them two nasties to contend with! You can get copper wire at hardware stores our if you see old electrical equipment in skips, just snip off the flex, take it home, slit the rubber and find the copper inside!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Have you tried using milk? I discovered this by accident and wrote about it here

  5. Help! I planted out my runner bean plants and sweet peas together in the same row and woke up this morning to major snail damage to the runner bean plants despite using organic pellets. We have three dogs so have to be careful.Does anyone have any advice?

    • Yvonne Earl

      Try crushed egg shells. The slugs and snails won’t cross it as it dries up there slime

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat

    I can’t remember where I got the idea from but it does work!

    Hi Kay

    I’m going to try the Three Sisters planting this year. Got the idea from Magic Cochin at Purple Podded Peas

    It’s sunny this morning in East Anglia, hope that it’s the same for you on the coast!

    Hi Kate(uk)

    How interesting that the increase in pollinating insects increased your yield. I’ve put far more sweet peas in with the beans this year, fingers crossed for a bumper harvest of both.

    Hi nà

    Your father had great taste. Sweat peas are one of my favourite flowers and runner beans are definitely my favourite vegetable!

    Hope that the combination works well for you!

  7. nà

    ah fiona, you are wonderful, thank you for this post! i planted sweet peas in our flower bed this spring (they were my Dad’s faves) and then just yesterday i transplanted our growing runner beans (his fave veggies to grow) from their little pots into the new border we dug up which leads around the garden to the sweet pea flowerbed!!! what good fortune! i had no idea about this combination! thank you thank you thank you! now i feel all quite content!

    have a good weekend, bye for now

  8. Kate(uk)

    I grew my beans in a flowerbed last year surrounded by bee-friendly plants. Got loads of beans. The year before the beans were on their own in the veg bed. Very few beans. It works!

  9. Scary synchronicity again! I’ve just blogged about the Three Sisters planting system over at my allotment blog, and wondered whether it was actually practical in our cooler wetter climate. It’s a philosophy of planting developed by Native Americans and a friend of mine is trying it here, and it’s all about how one plant helps another to grow better …

    And I have sweet peas just ready to be planted out – if only the weather will cooperate!

  10. What a great idea!!! I will need to remember this for next years plantings. Thanks!

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