Next to tomatoes, growing bush beans is the second most popular plant found in most vegetable gardens. Depending on your preference, they are easy to grow and an excellent choice for beginner gardeners.
Bush Beans - Are also known as string beans, pole beans, or snap beans.
If you are a lover of beans, and just can't wait to get enough of this vegetable, then this may be your plant of choice. This bean plant acts like it is on steroids producing most of its pods within the first two months after planting then they quickly die off. Because of this short life span, you can dig up the dead stalks and re-plant again ensuring another batch of beans for your kitchen table.
As a bonus because of their speed of producing, bush beans rarely have problems with vegetable pests or disease because they are not in the garden long enough to be bothered by these pesky critters.
If growing bush beans is your plant of choice, beginner gardeners would do well to remember they will need more garden space than pole beans.
If you have a small garden, then pole beans should be your bean plant of choice. Pole beans are like indeterminate tomatoes. They are climbing or vining plants and make great use of vertical space by climbing or entwining around a support like a tomato cage or other plant support.
Because pole beans climb so high, plant them on the north side of your vegetable garden so that they do not block the sun from reaching other vegetable plants you have in your garden.
Pole beans grow at a much slower rate than bush beans but continue to produce pods throughout the summer until the first frost. Be sure to remove the bean pods on a regular basis to encourage the plant to continue producing new pods.
For vegetable gardeners who enjoy using containers to grow vertical vegetables, both bush beans and pole beans adapt quite well to this method of
If you are growing pole bean whether in the ground or container, use a support for the beans to grow upward. The plant in the picture is not a bean plant, but you can see how well it adapted to the lattice frame work. So will pole beans.
Other options for pole is a wire or teepee cage or telescopic cage support.
Choose a container 12 to 24 inches in diameter; my preference is a container between 18 to 24 inches. You can also be imaginative and choose a half-barrel or other decorative landscape item.
Bush Beans 50 to 55 days. Pole Beans 50 to 60 days.
As recently mentioned, bush beans must be picked two times a week to ensure a continuous harvest. If pods are allowed to mature, the plant will stop blooming.
Picking beans can be somewhat of an art. The trick is to harvest them before they become tough and stringy. That is to say, they should be picked as immature pods before the seeds are well developed. If you can see the bulge of a developing bean then the bean is probably over-mature and should be shelled. Pole beans are the exception. Go by taste, if the pod is too tough and stringy then shell the bean from the pod.
Depending on the variety, beans germinate in approximately six to ten days. For best results, follow the directions on the seed package.
gardeners say that inoculating the seeds with a nitrogen fixing bacteria
will increase bean pod yield, especially in a vegetable garden when
growing beans for the first time. Most seed manufactures package bean
seeds treated with a fungicide to protect seedlings from disease. My
preference is the purchase of quality seeds already inoculated. You can
order seeds from most garden manufactures and my recommendation is Burpee Seeds.
They have been around serving gardeners since 1878 and have the highest
quality seeds at a reasonable price. Remember the success of your
vegetables depends a great deal on your choice of quality seeds.
When to Plant
After last frost or when daytime temperature reaches 55-60F/ 13-15C. Planting beans in cold soil will likely cause poor germination and make the plant rot.
As mentioned earlier and worth repeating, growing bush beans full sun and well-drained soil will yield the best results. Plant pole beans on the north side of your vegetable garden so that they do not block the sun from reaching other vegetable plants in your garden.
Leave sufficient space between each plant to avoid overcrowding. For pole beans, make sure plants are spaced far enough apart to accommodate a climbing support such as a teepee structure, trellis, or wire cage.
Beans prefer a fertilizer that has high phosphate content and lower nitrogen content. A 1-1-1 or 1-2-1 ratio generally works well for most beans. Other vegetable gardeners say they prefer a ratio of 5-10-10. You can also check at your local nursery for the correct fertilizer ratio for your area. If your're not sure, as a nursery expert.
For more information on fertilizer, read our article vegetable fertilizer
Most beans are to a large degree drought resistant in most areas of the country and they require little water. However, do keep in mind they do need some water on a regular basis. No life can exist without water, so keep this in mind if your watering habit begins to slip. How much water your beans will need depends on the climate in your area. I suggest you water thoroughly after planting and then again each two to four days thereafter if there is no rain. Water early in the morning to allow your bean plants to dry, doing so will reduce disease infection.
And finally, too much or too little soil moisture will play havoc on any vegetable plant and in the case of beans; it will cause blossom and pod drop as well as malformed pods.
For any beginner gardener growing bush beans, take the guess work out of how much soil moisture there is in your soil by using a water soil moisture meter. They are reasonably cheap and can be picked up at most garden centers.
Ah! These pesky critters visit your vegetable garden every year you plant your vegetables. Different vegetable plants usually attract a variety of garden pests who are attracted or favor specific vegetables. Beans are no exception and attract Cutworms, Mexican bean beetle and Japanese beetle.
For more information on these and other pesky garden critters, read our article vegetable garden pests.
I hope you found this article on growing bush beans informative. As an added resource on growing bush beans, I have included information from Cornell University for your interest.
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