After we finished our patio makeover, we started to work on Sophie’s play area and therefore we never got around to planting anything in our raised beds. It turned out to be for the best as we clearly didn’t do well with weeding them…
We used nap time today to weed them both and lay some weed membrane down. We ended up turning one of the sections into a bean teepee for Sophie.
We used some bamboo canes from Homebase, twine and runner beans. After reading about when to sow runner beans, we decided to use plants rather than beans because we were a little late for starting them off indoors and I was keen to get them growing as quickly as possible.
We bought some ‘Firestorm’ runner beans from our local garden centre but there are lots of different varieties to choose from. Just make sure that you choose climbing runner beans.
We started by tying three bamboo canes together and poking them through the weed membrane. Then we spaced the remaining canes in the gaps and added two more to the front to make the opening stronger in case Sophie grabbed it as she entered the teepee. We secured them with twine and they were surprisingly sturdy.
We wrapped twin around the bamboo canes, leaving the door open, to give the beans something to climb.
The Royal Horticultural Society recommends planting one pot raised bean plant per cane in late May and early June. I read this after planting ours, and we had already planted one plug on each side of the cane as we didn’t want to split the plants and damage the roots.
You don’t have to buy plants, you can plant the beans directly into the ground from mid-May until July. The RHS recommend that you sow the beans 5cm deep, two seeds to a bamboo cane, spaced 15cm apart then thin to one seedling per cane.
So we definitely have a lot more plants per cane than is recommended… we will see how they go and maybe thin them out!
Once we had planted all of the beans we covered the membrane with compost and placed an offcut of turf in the centre of the teepee.
We also added a stepping stone and some bedding plants around the edge. We have very little gardening experience so I am hoping that the beans thrive and do not get eaten by slugs! A top tip from the RHS is that once the shoots have reached the top of their supports, you should pinch them out to prevent plants from becoming top heavy.
We managed to complete this project in Sophie’s nap time so it was ready for her to play in when she woke up. I love the smile on her face when she saw it.
She headed straight in and it was just big enough. Let’s hope the beans grow quicker than she does though.
She spent a bit of time looking at it, then some time ‘helping’ us finish the raised bed next to the teepee before heading to her mud kitchen to get covered in mud!
I am looking forward to watching the runner beans grow and climb to create a covered teepee for Sophie to play in. I hope that we will be able to harvest the beans so that we can eat them. The RHS explains that the beans are ready when the pods are less than full length, snap easily and while the seeds are still small and pale in colour. This is usually at about 15-20cm long. They also suggest that you should pick the beans regularly to encourage further pod production; every two or three days is ideal. So our bean teepee should provide plenty of entertainment over the summer!
I am also planning on putting together a story sack for Jack and the Beanstalk and doing some sensory activities and messy play linked to the story so watch out for those posts.