Hands up I didn’t think I was going to like this bean. I’m used to French/Pole beans being shaped like a pencil and runner beans to be flat and looking at this it was a French bean pretending to be a runner. Not only that but it is wiggly, which means it does not fit in to my runner bean slicer (a little like this which strings and slices beans in to long thin noodle like shapes). The photo below show why you will never see it on your supermarket shelf, some are straight, some are curved, some have a bigger bottom like a partially inflated ballon, others are flat all the way down, all have a wavy edge around where the seeds will develop. Therefore by the time I got to eat it I was, rather amusingly, in a bit of a grump.
However I have to say that I suspect this is hands down the best French bean I have ever tasted. The 2008 RHS trials describe it as sweet and fresh and I have to agree with them. Therefore I will have to throw out the runner bean slicer, for these at least, and embrace its confused wiggles and curls and love it for its flavour and unusual colour instead.
In the kitchen
The best time to harvest these are when the pod is yellow but still young and has not started to form beans inside. Cook as you would a runner bean, sliced in to chunks no longer than you little finger, smaller if you like and steam or simmer for a few minutes until tender. Try slicing finely in to a risotto or soup towards the end of cooking. They also make a fabulous pickle, chutney or try finely slicing and salting lightly with a little chilli or lemon zest and serve after a couple of hours later as a zesty pickle/chutney with grilled meat or fish.
Yield and plant health
As long as the weather is warm 2-4 plants will provide a meal for two every week (about 700g per plant overall in total) from July but cold weather after planting can seriously knock them back and it may be worth sowing again if you experience this. It isn’t the highest yielding French bean you can grow but worth it for the flavour and I’m not so keen on frozen beans so had to give plenty away. There are very few serious pests and diseases that affect French and runner beans in the UK but Golden Gate holds an RHS award of garden merit at the time of publication which suggests it is one of the best in class.
Climbing beans are not frost hardy and will sulk if they get to cold and wet. You will need to sow these indoors no more than two weeks before the last frost date.
Sow 2 inches deep in root trainers or a 9cm pot. Keep compost lightly damp whilst germinating. Once all risk of frost has past, harden off the beans by placing outside during the day and bringing in at night or placing in a cold frame and lifting the lid during the day. Plant out after a week.
Give climbing beans a soil rich in organic matter and in full sun, making sure that they do not shade out other plants.
They will need a trellis or other support up to two meters high. You will need to tie them to the support at first but after that they should climb up themselves.
Remove the tips once the beans have reached the top of the support. Keep well watered and in July mulch with compost. Plants can be prolific so 8 plants will feed two happily with some for the freezer. Pick regularly to ensure a constant supply.
Wisley Magic (runner)
White Lady (runner)
Blauhild (French Climber)
Golden Teepee (French dwarf)
Purple Teepee (French dwarf)