How to Grow Beans
Beans are one of the easiest and most rewarding garden vegetables to grow, and are great for plots both big and small. Most beans will need a structure to climb, or a trellis, while a few varieties, like the Bush Bean, will grow without one. Pole Beans, and other climbing bean varieties need vertical space to climb and can climb up to three meters or more if allowed to. Other varieties, like the Bush Bean, grow on small shrub like plants that stay closer to the soil, and do not trail or climb, but instead stay fairly compact and low.
When to Sow
Growing beans from seed is easy and fun. You can plant your beans directly into soil outside on the last day of frost, or any day after, and they will quickly germinate, showing small leaves in as little as 2-3 weeks.
Beans enjoy a soil mixture that drains well, but also contains organic matter. Loamy soils, or soils that have compost mixed in are perfect for your beans to grow, because it allows them to feed off of the nutrients stored within. If your soil drains too fast, or is too sandy, add some compost to the soil to help it to retain more moisture. Similarly, if the soil is too dense, and muddy, mix in more loamy soil, or potting soil, to help it drain quicker and allow for better aeration.
Once you have prepared your soils, and the frost has passed, you can begin to plant your beans. Depending on the variety, the depth of the seeds and the spacing of your bean plants will differ:
- Bush Beans: Plant at least 2-3 inches apart. Rows 18-24 inches apart.
- Pole Beans: Grows vertically and requires a trellis. Space 3 inches apart.
It is important to have the right structures in place for your beans to climb if they need to. Overhead runners or trellises are the best and easiest structures to erect, and should be ready before sowing so that your plants have something to train on as soon as they are ready. Once your beans are planted, make sure to water them thoroughly and to keep an eye on them to ensure that they do not dry out. Once they have germinated and are showing leaves, make sure to water them regularly when needed.
Maintenance and Fertilizer
Bean plants can benefit from occasional fertilization, but do not require it. If you choose to fertilize, select a fertilizer that has a NPK ratio of 5-10-10, or something similar to that. Most vegetable fertilizers are safe to use on beans, but make sure to not over fertilize.
To encourage growth and healthy bean plants, companion planting is also another option. Planting beans in close proximity to Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Peas, Radishes, and Tomatoes helps to encourage growth and helps to protect from some common diseases and insects that can affect your bean plants.
When it is time to harvest, you want to look for bean pods that are firm and fleshy looking, and pick them gently from the plant to ensure that the plant is left intact to produce more pods. The pods are picked before they have matured so that the beans inside are still fleshy and soft. Once harvested, the bean pods can be stored fresh for 4-5 days in an airtight container, or can be canned or preserved for year-round enjoyment.
Recommended Bean Varieties