If like me you can’t always get to water your plot you need as many tricks as you can find to stop your plants from losing too much moisture, so this post is called how to stop runner beans drying out but this technique works equally well for squashes, tomatoes etc.For more information on Growing squashes click the link. It’s important that runner beans don’t dry out because when runner beans do get dry they get stringy.
Step one – How to stop runner beans drying out
The first thing to do is to dig a trench roughly a spade or a spade and a half deep and a spade wide.
Step two – Newspaper
Take six sheets of newspaper fold them length ways to fit your trench and continue all along the trench. Soak with water until newspaper is sopping wet. Or you can use well rotted manure if you can get hold of some.
Step three – Pipe
Back fill the trench with soil and as you fill with soil place a pipe about eighteen inches long in the soil so just the top is above ground. I place one length of pipe approximately every three foot along the trench so a twelve foot trench would have four pipes.
leave for three to four weeks to settle down then plant up with your runner beans. Don’t worry too much if the beans aren’t directly above the buried newspaper as the bean roots will search for water. You need to water regularly but the buried newspaper will absorb a high percentage of water and not let it drain away as it would ordinarily.
Using the pipes means that the water goes straight to the roots / paper and doesn’t evaporate. It also saves from leaf burn, which is where the water that’s spilled on the leaves magnifies the suns rays and burns the leaves.
Step 4 – Mulch
To slow down the evaporation process I then mulch around my plants with dried grass cuttings or straw / hay. If I can get the mulch to a thickness of eight inches it will also impede all but the most determined of weeds.
If you don’t have access to any pipe, I was fortunate to lay my hands on some drainage pipe which is ideal and easy to cut with a small hacksaw, you can use plastic bottles.
Plastic bottles like two litre pop bottles or four pint milk cartons aren’t as long as is ideal but they are better than nothing.
Just cut the base off the bottle and insert into the ground neck end down. this is so there is plenty of area to aim your watering can at.
When planting beans I make wigwams out of six canes and I plant two beans per cane. I then plant one squash plant in the middle of the circle thus as the beans add nitrogen to the soil the greedy squashes will benefit from the nitrogen boost.
If you decide to plant the squashes in the middle I usually plant a summer squash then a winter squash and so on. This is because summer squash plants are smaler than winter squash plants thus giving the winter squashes room to grow.