Salford Black runner beans were one of the first heritage seeds I received after I joined the Heritage Seed Library, since then I have saved my own seeds. The long green pods are deeply textured and develope a sooty purple/black tinge as they mature (probably not a selling feature if you're auditioning veg for the supermarket shelf!) but they remain stringless until the seeds become large, and have a beautiful flavour - both key qualities if you're choosing a bean for the kitchen garden. Each year they outgrow their wigwam, my husband likes to give them room to reach for the sky - last year they were given a strong string from their wigwam to the high brick garden wall. This year they got a giant rustic archway, the jet black seeds were pushed hurriedly into the soil in mid-May, once they got started there was no stopping them and they have covered the archway in a cloak of huge green leaves, vivid orange-red flowers and long green pods.
One plant has some interesting patterned leaves which are very attractive - I wonder if I can continue this variegated variation?.
The name Salford Black conjured up images of scenes by L S Lowry, was the colouring on the pods reminiscent of the sooty industrial town? For some reason this annoyingly set off a memory of that irritating song which popped into my head everytime I neared the bean arch. Aaaaaaagh..... go away!!!!! But the other day I was leafing through the Heritage Seed Library catalogue and came across this:
"Salford Black Grown by Mrs P A Woodward's family for about 40 years, this variety is known to come from Salford, a village in the Cotswolds."
The Cotswolds!!! not Lancashire after all, I was immediately freed from the haunting song (please note: I have nothing against Salford, Lancashire or the paintings of L S Lowry, but I just don't like that song, you might, I don't).
This is the picking from the vegetable garden last night - lots of rather large courgettes and beautiful Salford Black runner beans. Surplus beans can easily be blanched and cooled then bagged for the freezer - lots of green beans for the winter months.