Whether used fresh or dried, beans make up one of the most important–and oldest–foods. The seeded pods of some types of legumes can be traced back as far as 7,000 years ago. Snap beans are the most familiar of bean types that gardeners grow and include green beans, yellow wax beans, filet beans, and Romano beans.

How to Grow Beans

 

Snap beans are an easy-to-grow, warm-season vegetable that can be planted as either bush beans or pole beans. Beans are also a good crop for improving soil fertility because of nitrogen fixing bacteria found in the nodules growing on plant roots.

Bush beans are determinate varieties that grow about 2’ tall and have a bushy habit, perfect for patio containers and small-space gardens. Bush beans produce all their beans at about the same time; about 45 days from planting.

Pole beans are indeterminate varieties that produce over a longer period of time. Pole beans take about twice as long to mature as bush beans, and they need some type of trellis to support their long vines.

Prepare

  • Locate a sunny spot to plant beans either in the garden or in containers.
  • Amend the soil by digging in compost or other organic, soil-enriching matter (while beans can grow well in almost any soil, amending the soil will only promote better growth)
  • If planting pole beans, be sure to include a way to support the vines, such as a teepee trellis.
  • Set up a drip irrigation system or soaker hose to ensure that plants will get deep, consistent watering through the season
  • Beans are susceptible to foliage problems, so you’ll want to ensure dry leaves by watering at the soil level

Plant

  • Wait until soil warms to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (the warmer the better) before planting bean seeds.
  • Plant seeds 1” to 1½” deep and 1” apart (if planting in rows, plant 24” or more apart).
  • Beans can be picky about germinating, so it pays to plant thickly and then thin to 2” to 4” apart once they’ve sprouted and started to grow.
  • If you’d like to have a continuous supply of fresh beans through the Summer, plant both bush beans and poles beans in successive plantings. To do this, plant bean seeds several weeks apart through mid-Summer.

Maintain

  • Keep up good watering practices, as beans need consistent water, especially when plants are flowering. Water stress or inconsistent watering will result in bean pods with odd shapes.
  • Mulch around bean plants with an organic mulch, like straw or shredded leaves this helps maintain soil moisture and keeps down weeds.
  • As pole beans start to grow taller, train the vines to grow up the trellis, tying them to the trellis if necessary.
  • Bush beans might not need a support unless they are planted in a particularly windy spot and are at risk of falling over during gusty periods.
  • Don’t over-fertilize! Beans don’t need much fertilizer to grow, so if the garden was amended at the beginning of the season, you probably won’t need to add more fertilizer. If there’s too much nitrogen fertilizer, the plants will grow, but the bean yield may be reduced.

Harvest

  • Watch the bean crop and harvest when pods are young and the seeds are still tender. During the peak of the season, you may need to harvest pods every day, when they reach 4” to 5” long.
  • Use pointed pruners or scissors to carefully cut pods from the plant (don’t pull). Avoid cutting pods from the plant while leaves are wet to prevent spreading foliar diseases.

Companion Plants

Plant beans with these companions:

  • Cabbage family members
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplants
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Rosemary
  • Strawberries

Avoid planting with:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Shallots

Materials for Success

  • Soil thermometer
  • Soaker hose or drip irrigation
  • High-quality compost or well-aged manure
  • Trellis system for pole beans
  • Organic mulch

To learn more about growing beans or about growing your own edible vegetable garden, contact the pros at Nick’s Garden Center. 

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