Growing Beans in the Garden
Green Beans are an excellent choice for teaching young gardeners how to grow vegetable and plants for that matter. Even in a limited space they are incredibly productive. Bush beans generally require less maintenance and are easier to grow, but pole beans typically yield more beans and are mostly disease-resistant. All green beans are tender annuals. The main difference between bush and pole beans are their growing habits. Bush beans are more compact, growing to about 2 ft tall and as such do not require support. Pole beans will grow as a climbing vine that will grow 10 to 15 feet tall. Therefore, pole beans require a trellis or staking. Both require approximately 55 to 60 days to produce beans. Since their produce comes in all at once, it is best to stagger your planting to about every two weeks to maintain a constant supply of the freshest beans Mother Nature can provide.
Beans are best grow in soil with normal fertility. Beans don’t need supplemental fertilizer as they fix their own nitrogen. However, poor soil should still be amended with aged manure or compost prior to planting. Seeds are best down directly in the ground anytime after the last spring frost; minimum soil temperature is 48 degrees F. Don’t plant too early or the cool soil will delay germination and the seeds could also rot. Sow bush bean seeds 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart in rows 18 inches apart. Plant a little deeper in sandy soils (but not too deep).
For pole beans, set up trellises or tepees first for support. For a tepee: Tie 3 or 4 7-foot-long bamboo poles or long, straight branches together at the top and splay the legs in a circle. Then plant 3 or 4 seeds around each pole. As vines appear, train them to wind up the poles. For more stability, wrap string/wire around the poles about halfway up, encircling the tepee; this gives the vines something to grab. Plant pole seeds 3 inches apart.
Mulch soil to retain moisture; make sure that it is well-drained. Beans have shallow roots so mulch keep them cool. Water regularly, from start of pod to set, about 2 inches per week. If you do not keep beans well watered, they will stop flowering. Water on sunny days so foliage will dry as you don’t want the leaves damp or wet. Weed diligently and use shallow cultivation to prevent disturbing the root systems. Pinch the tops of pole beans when they reach the top of the support to force them to put energy into producing more pods.
- Harvest beans in the morning when their sugar level is highest.
- Green beans are picked young and tender before the seeds inside have fully developed.
- Pick green beans every day; the more you pick, the more beans grow.
- Look for firm, sizable that are firm and can be snapped, generally as thick as a pencil.
- Snap or cut off the plant, do not tear the plant. Fresh beans should snap easily when broken.
- Once you see the seeds inside bulging, green beans are past their peak and will taste tough.
- Store beans in a moisture-proof, airtight container in the refrigerator. Beans will toughen over time even when stored properly.
- Beans can be kept fresh for about 4 days, or blanched and frozen immediately after harvesting.
- Beans can also be canned or pickled.