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Gardening: Ensuring a swell crop of runner beans and keeping an eye on sweet corn and carrot harvests

© ShutterstockPick runner beans before they begin to swell
Pick runner beans before they begin to swell

Runner beans are cropping now and the plants themselves should have the tips removed once they reach the top of their supports. Pick the beans before they begin to swell and the plants should continue producing a harvest for up to two months.

Meanwhile, keep checking on sweet corn, pressing kernels to check that the liquid inside has taken on a creamy consistency. Once this happens, use the sweet corn quickly before they become over-ripe and tough. For the best results, pick heads just before you are ready to cook them as this way the flavour will be sweetest.

If you want more herbs then take cuttings now from rosemary and sage and if you buy basil from the supermarket, then split the clumps between several pots filled with good-quality compost and it should grow stronger and last longer.

Vegetables growing in containers need lots of water, but if your containers stand in saucers then tip the water out of these during spells of really wet weather to prevent the plants from rotting and take extra slug precautions, placing copper bands around the rim of the pots and making sure that slugs can’t gain access from overhanging plants.

Harvesting carrots will release their scent, which could attract carrot fly, so keep the rows surrounded by fleece and replace it as quickly as possible after removing the amount of carrots you need.

As crops are removed from the vegetable patch, clear away the debris and use the space to grow autumn vegetables and salads. You might even want to try growing Luz do Otono, which is a unique autumn-cropping broad bean. Plants of this are available or, if you plant the seeds now and protect them over the winter, then you should have an earlier crop next year.

If you are raising beans under glass, then it’s best to use root trainers so that the roots can grow straight into the extra depth of compost that these provide. Peas and sweetpeas should be treated this way as well to prevent them from becoming pot-bound.

Self-blanching forms of celery are starting to ripen but take care when lifting them so you don’t damage the neighbouring plants. Start at the end of a row and work inwards and replace the soil to protect those plants that remain.