Growing beans planting, growing, and harvesting beans

With our Green Bean Guide, find information on growing green beans in your garden . We’ll show you how to plant, care for, and harvest both bush beans and pole beans. They’re a staple of every vegetable garden because they’re easy to grow in a limited space and versatile in the kitchen.

Green beans (also called string beans) are a tender annual that can grow anywhere with 6 to 8 hours of sun.

The main difference between bush and pole beans is the plants’ growing styles.

  • Bush beans tend to grow more compactly (about two-feet tall) and do not require support. Pole beans will vine (a good ten feet) and need to be grown up stakes or trellises.
  • Bush beans generally require less maintenance and are easier to grow, but pole beans typically yield more beans and are very disease-resistant.
  • Bush beans produce before pole beans in about 50 to 55 days; pole beans will take 55 to 65 days.
  • Bush beans often come in all at once, so stagger your planting every two weeks. Pole beans need their vines to grow and will produce for a month or two if you keep harvesting.

Though most green beans are indeed green, they also come in purple, red, yellow and streaked varieties.

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PLANTING

  • Pole beans will grow as a climbing vine that will grow 10 to 15 feet tall. Therefore, pole beans require a trellis or staking. Bush beans will spread up to 2 feet, but do not require support.
  • Do not start seeds indoors; they may not survive transplanting.
  • Normal, moderately-rich soil is fine for beans. Beans don’t need supplemental fertilizer as they fix their own nitrogen, but you should still amend the soil with organic matter.
  • Seeds can be sown outdoors anytime after the last spring frost; minimum soil temperature is 48 degrees F. Don’t plant too early or the seeds can rot.
  • Plant all bean seeds 1 to 2 inches deep in normal soil, and a little deeper for sandier soils. Cover soil to warm if necessary.
  • Bush beans: Plant about 4 inches apart.
  • Pole beans: Set up trellises or teepees first for support. Then plant seeds about 6 to 8 seeds per teepee or every 6 inches apart.
  • If you like pole beans, an easy support for them is a “cattle panel”—a portable section of wire fence—16 feet long and 5 feet tall. The beans will climb with ease and you won’t have to get into contorted positions to pick them.
  • For a harvest that lasts all summer, sow beans every 2 weeks. If you’re going to be away, skip a planting. Beans do not wait for anyone.
  • Rotate crops each year.

CARE

  • 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. If you do not keep beans well watered, they will stop flowering. Water on sunny days so foliage will not remain soaked.
  • Avoid a high-nitrogen fertilizer or you will get lush foliage and few beans. Just add a side dressing of compost or composted mature halfway through their growing season.
  • Weed diligently and use shallow cultivation to prevent disturbing the root systems.

PESTS/DISEASES

  • Mexican Bean Beetles (These beetles eat the flowers, beans and especially leaves of beans.)
  • Japanese Beetles
  • Aphids
  • Slugs(These pests are attracted to damp conditions.)
  • Cucumber Beetles
  • White Mold(Avoid damp conditions)
  • Mosaic Viruses (Try to keep vines dry by not crowding plants and providing ample air circulation)
  • Woodchucks
  • Cutworms
  • Bean blossoms will drop from the plant if the weather is too hot, and too much nitrogen in the soil will prevent pods from setting.

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HARVEST/STORAGE

  • Green beans are picked young and tender before the seeds inside have fully developed.
  • 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.
  • Pick green beans every day; the more you pick, the more beans grow.
  • 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].

RECOMMENDED VARIETIES

  • ‘Kentucky Wonder’ (pole): Will produce a bountiful harvest.
  • ‘Bountiful’ (bush): Early producer. Stringless heirloom.
  • ‘Bush Blue Lake’ (bush): Keeps flavor well after harvest.
  • ‘Bean Mascotte’ (bush): Compact, ideal for [container gardens].
  • ‘Fortex’ (pole): French variety, large beans.
  • ‘Royal Burgundy’ (bush): Purple pods that turn green when cooked. Early producing.Not popular with the bean beetle.

Source: Farmer’s Almanac