Green beans–also called snap beans–for fresh eating are a tender annual best planted early in the season as soon as the frost has passed.
Sow green beans in the garden just after the average date of the last frost in spring.
To get an early start on the season, sow beans indoors as early as 3 or 4 weeks before the average last frost date in spring for transplanting into the garden a week or two after the last frost.
For continuous fresh harvest through the growing season, sow succession crop bush beans every two weeks.
Beans can continue in the garden until the first frost in fall. However, beans will not set pods in temperatures above 80°F.
About beans. Green or snap beans are tender annuals grown for their edible immature pods. Green beans grow either as bushes or vines. The size and color of pods and seeds can vary. Pods can be 3 or 4 inches to 6 to 8 inches or more long and vary in color: green, yellow, purple, and speckled. Yellow beans are often called wax beans. Pods can be round or flat. Leaves are commonly composed of three leaflets and flowers are yellow, lavender, or white. Bush bean varieties are ready for harvest in 45 to 60 days; pole bean varieties are ready for harvest in 60 to 85 days. Bush beans grow to 2 or 3 feet tall and mature earlier than pole beans. Pole beans can grow to 8 feet tall and require a stake or trellis for support. Pole beans produce more beans per plant than bush beans.
Beans Yield. Grow 4 to 8 bean plants per each household member.
Site. Grow beans in full sun. Beans will grow in partial shade but the harvest will not be full. Beans grow best in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Beans prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Prepare planting beds in advance by working in plenty of aged compost. Avoid planting beans where soil nitrogen is high or where green manure crops have just grown; these beans will produce green foliage but few beans.
Bean prep for planting: Preparing to Plant Beans.
Beans Planting Time. Beans are a tender annual that grow best in temperatures between 50° and 85°F. Sow green beans in the garden just after the average date of the last frost in spring when the soil temperature has warmed. The optimal growing soil temperature for beans is 60° to 85°F. Start beans indoors as early as 3 or 4 weeks before the average last frost date in spring for transplanting into the garden a week or two after the last frost. Start beans indoors in a biodegradable peat or paper pot that can be set whole into the garden so as not to disturb plant roots.
For continuous harvest through the growing season, sow succession crop bush beans every two weeks or follow bush beans with longer-maturing pole beans. Beans can continue in the garden until the first frost in fall. However, beans will not set pods in temperatures above 80°F. Time your plantings to avoid hot weather. In mild-winter regions, beans can be sown in autumn for winter harvest.
More tips: Beans Seed Starting Tips.
Beans Planting and Spacing. Sow beans 1 to 1½ inch deep. Plant bush beans 3 to 4 inches apart; set rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant pole beans 4 to 6 inches apart; set rows 30 to 36 inches apart. Set poles, stakes, or supports in place at planting time. Pole beans also can be planted in inverted hills–5 or 6 seeds to a hill; space hills 40 inches apart. Thin strong seedlings from 4 to 6 inches apart. Remove weaker seedlings by cutting them off at soil level with a scissors being careful not to disturb the roots of other seedlings. Bean can be crowded; they will use each other for support.
Beans Water and Feeding. Grow beans in soil that is evenly moist. Bean seeds may crack and germinate poorly if the soil moisture is too high at sowing. Do not soak seeds in advance of planting and do not over-water after sowing. Keep the soil evenly moist during flowering and pod formation. Rain or overhead irrigation during flowering can cause flowers and small pods to fall off. Once the soil temperature averages greater than 60°F, mulch to conserve moisture.
Beans are best fertilized with aged garden compost; they do not require extra nitrogen. Beans set up a mutual exchange with soil microorganisms called nitrogen-fixing bacteria which produces the soil nitrogen beans require. Avoid using green manures or nitrogen-rich fertilizers in advance of planting beans.
More tips: Bean Growing Tips.
Companion plants. Bush beans: celery, corn, cucumbers, potatoes, rosemary, strawberries, summer savory. Pole beans: corn, rosemary, summer savory, scarlet runner beans, sunflowers. Do not plant beans with onions, beets, or kohlrabi.
Care of Beans. Cultivate around beans carefully to avoid disturbing the shallow root system. Do not handle beans when they are wet; this may spread fungus spores. Set poles, stakes, or trellises in place before planting pole beans. Select supports that are tall enough for the variety being grown. Rotate beans to plots where lettuce, squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, or collards have grown in the past year or two.
Container Growing Beans. Bush beans can be grown in containers, but you may need several containers for a practical harvest. Beans will grow in 8-inch containers.
Bean Pests. Beans can be attacked by aphids, bean beetles, flea beetles, leafhoppers and mites. Aphids, leafhoppers, and mites can be sprayed away with a blast of water from the hose or controlled with insecticidal soap. Look for eggs and infestations and crush them between your finger and thumb. Pinch out and remove large infestations. Aphids can spread bean mosaic virus. Keep the garden clean and free of debris so that pests can not harbor or over-winter in the garden.
More tips: Bean Growing Problems: Troubleshooting.
Bean Diseases. Beans are susceptible to blight, mosaic, and anthracnose. Plant disease-resistant varieties. Keep the garden clean and free of debris. Avoid handling plants when they are wet so as not to spread fungal spores. Removed diseased plants; put them in a paper bag and throw them away. Beans are susceptible to many soil-borne diseases; rotating beans so that they do not grow in the same location more than every three years will reduce soil-borne diseases.
Bean Harvest. Bush beans will be ready for harvest 50 to 60 after sowing; pole beans will be ready for harvest 60 to 90 days after harvest. Pick green or snap beans when pods are still immature, about 3 inches long or just before they begin to bulge and grow plump. Continue to pick pods before they become mature so that the plant will continue flowering and producing new pods. When seeds mature, the plant will die. Avoid harvesting beans when the weather is very hot or very cold.
Harvest tips: How to Harvest and Store Beans.
Bean Varieties. The most commonly grown beans are the green or snap bean and the yellow or wax variety. Most green or snap beans have been stringless since 1894 when Burpee introduced the Stringless Green Pod bean. Here are several suggested varieties:
- Green or snap bush beans: Astro (53 days); Blue Lake (56 days); Contender (53 day); Derby (55 days); Gator Green (55 days); Greensleeves (56 days); Provider (53 days); Slenderette (53 days); Tendercrop (53 days); Tendergreen (57 days); Tendercrop (53 days); Triumph (52 days); White-Seeded Provider (50 days).
- Yellow wax bush beans: Brittle Was (55 days); Cherokee (55 days); Earlywax Golden Yellow Bean (50 days); Goldcrop (50 days); Gold Mine (47 days); Gold Rush (54 days); Kinghorn (50 days); Pencil Rod (52 days); Sunrae (55 days); Wax Romano (59 days).
- Purple bush beans: Purple Queen (55 days).
- Green pole green or snap beans: Blue Lake Pole (65 days); Kentucky Wonder (60 days); McCaslan (65 days); Northeaster (60 days); Scarlet Emperor (100 days); Scarlett Runner (65 days); Yard Long Beans (80 days).
- Yellow and purple pole snap beans: Cascade Giant (60 days); Kentucky Wonder Wax (65 days); Purple Pole (65 days) Yellow Annelino (60 days).
Beans you can plant: Bean Varieties: Best Bets and Easy-to-Grow.
Storing and Preserving Beans. Unshelled green beans can be kept up to one week in the refrigerator. Shelled beans can be blanched and frozen for up to 3 months.
Common name. Bean, green bean, snap bean, string bean, French bean, wax bean, pole bean, bush bean, stringless bean
Botanical name. Phaseolus vulgaris
Origin. South Mexico, Central America
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