How to Grow Green Beans

Michelle RobertsGardening, Planting Tips


According to the National Academy of Sciences the common bean is one of the most important sources of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates on the planet today.

The bean plant originated in Mexico some 10,000 years ago and made its way southward to Peru adjusting to the lowland climates as well as the cooler climate of the Andes.  They are grown in over 150 countries and to date the global harvest is about 18 million tons per year.  There are  over 4000 varieties in the Seed Savers Exchange, and that is not all of them. For economical and highly nutritious food storage – they are unbeatable.

Most home gardeners don’t grow any of the beans pictured above in their garden, however, they do grow green beans, the #8 top ten favorite vegetable to eat and to grow. 

The health benefits of green beans include:

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  • low calorie
  • high fiber
  • good sources of vitamins A, B, and C
  • provides protection against age related macular disease
  • good source of folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, manganese, potassium, carotenoids, chlorophyll, silicon
  • essential for regulating body metabolism
  • [/ul] [spacer height=”15″ mobile_hide=”true”] [outerOneHalf] Bush Beans

    Bush Beans

    [/outerOneHalf] [outerOneHalfLast] Pole Beans

    Pole Beans

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    Bean Planting Tips

    Whether you are planting bush beans or pole beans, you need to choose a location that has full sun.  Beans – like most vegetables – do best when there is a lot of organic matter in the soil.  Compost is a great way to add the organic matter. You can make it yourself or pick some up at your local garden center or city compost pile.  Apply calcium and trace minerals to the soil as well.  

    Beans can be directly seeded in the garden and do best if you wait until the soil is above 65 degrees.

    Dig a shallow trench with a hoe and place seeds about 2 inches apart in rows that are about 2 feet apart.  Cover seed and water. Keep soil moist during germination.  Water about 1 inch per week during growng season.  I water about 15 minutes a day.  If it is extremely hot, I will increase the water time a bit.  

    Beans will mature in 45 – 75 days depending on the variety.  If you keep harvesting the beans, not allowing any to remain on the vine, the beans will take a short break after the first big harvest and produce again before the winter frost hits them.

    Often times beans will not set a pod in the heat of the summer.  That is fairly normal.  They don’t like intense heat.  Just keep caring for them and they will have a resurgence when the temperature cools a bit.

    Another way to enjoy beans for the entire summer is to plant them in succession every two weeks until the middle of July.

    Bush beans mature earlier than pole beans and they tend to come on all at once. The harvest can last for 2 – 3 weeks and then it is over.  You can get a second harvest out of them if you continue to care for them and feed them again with some compost or mineral supplements, but its usually a much smaller harvest.

    Pole beans will continuously produce all season long.  The beans will ripen at the bottom first and then move up the vine.  Often times new beans will appear again at the bottom.  It is a good idea to have one pole support 2 vines.  More than that can become chaotic.

    When deciding which you should plant, consider the following:

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  • is it difficult to bend over for long periods of time?  With bush beans that is what you will be doing to harvest them
  • Do you want to can your beans?  If so, you might want to consider planting bush beans because they  tend to ripen all at once.
  • If you live in a windy area,  your pole bean trellis or stand can easily become a kite.  We no longer plant pole beans outside the hoop house because of that very reason.
  • Usually there is a higher yield with pole beans than with bush beans.
  • [/ul] [spacer height=”15″ mobile_hide=”true”] One of our favorite recipes for beans calls for lightly steamed green beans, fresh dill from the garden, and feta cheese. Drizzle a little butter over the steamed beans, add remaining ingredients, salt and pepper to taste.

    Give it a try  —  It’s just divine!!

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