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Green beans are my favorite summer crop. I remember being young, and my parents had a huge garden with rows of beans. My mother would take me outside with her, and I picked beans alongside her for hours. Growing green beans came naturally to me as I became older.
Now, I pick green beans along with my kids. The plants grow vigorously throughout the summer, and I typically grow two plantings before my growing season ends. That’s a lot of frozen and canned beans for the upcoming fall and winter.
The Types of Green Beans
There are four types of green beans, and each type has different varieties that you can pick. Some “green” beans aren’t green at all. One of my favorite green beans is purple – seriously!
1. Bush Beans
The first and most common type of green beans is bush beans. Bush beans are shorter, growing on compact plants only about two feet tall. These plants don’t require any trellises or support systems, and they grow vigorously for a short period.
Bush beans produce faster than pole beans, but their harvest comes all at one time. However, they don’t produce as much as pole beans.
On average, it takes 50 to 60 days for these plants to mature and produce a harvest. Depending on the length of your growing season, you might be able to grow two plantings of bush beans.
The harvest arrives all at one time, so you feel as if you’re drowning in green beans all at one time. You can use succession planting and plant a row every two weeks to stagger the harvest and keep your bush beans going for a longer time.
2. Pole Beans
Pole beans reach heights of 8-10 feet tall. Due to their height, they do need a trellis or other support system. They continue to grow and produce pods until the growing season is over, so they have a lengthy harvest.
Most gardeners find it easier to harvest pole beans because they grow so tall. If you don’t have a lot of space to grow bush beans, pole beans are a great alternative.
3. Runner Beans
Runner beans are often considered ornamental as well as edible because they produce brightly colored flowers along with their pods. As their name suggests, runner beans need something to grow up, such as a trellis or a vertical arch.
These beans produce heavily but require work after harvesting. The pods are large, but you have to remove the strings first.
4. Yardlong Beans
Yardlong beans are a variety most commonly found in Chinese markets, so they might not be one that you’re familiar with at all. The beans are incredibly long, looking lovely on whatever support system they grow up.
These beans do need a long, hot growing season, so they aren’t ideal for everyone.
How to Grow Green Beans
Green Beans are one of my favorite plants because they’re so darn easy. Unlike plants like tomatoes, beans don’t have as many issues. Plant the seeds, wait for them to grow, and harvest quickly!
The Right Location
Beans will give you the highest yield if you plant in full sun. The production slows down in extreme heat during the summer, so partial shade can be a good idea.
Picking a location that has full sun also helps the soil dry out, which reduces the likelihood that your plants will be affected by a disease.
Preparing the Soil
I told you that green beans are easy; they aren’t picky. Beans like moderately rich soil, so I mix in some organic matter. Compost is a good choice!
Planting Green Beans
Most gardeners directly sow the beans into the garden, but you could transplant small bean plants. However, you do risk disturbing the plants’ delicate root system by transplanting them.
Most importantly, you have to pick the right time to plant the beans. Don’t plant the seeds too early! They’ll rot in cool, damp soil. If you want to plant earlier, you can lay down black plastic for a few days to warm up the soil or use a pea and bean inoculant for fast root growth. Make sure any dangers of frost has passed.
Start by soaking your bean seeds overnight or, at least, for a few hours before you intend to plant them. Then, plant the seeds 1-2 inches deep, and make sure to water deeply right after you plant them.
If you planted bush beans, you can plant in single rows or broadcast the seeds with 4-6 inches between plants.
Don’t Forget The Support
If you’re growing pole beans, you can’t forget to install some sort of support for them to grow. You can try a pre-made trellis system or use support stakes with a trellis netting over top. I like vertical arches made with cattle panels, but anything works! You can even plant along a fence or use a makeshift teepee.
How to Take Care of Growing Green Beans
You have a bed full of growing green beans, but what do you do to take care of those plants? Luckily, beans are considered low maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about extensive care. I don’t know about you, but low maintenance makes my heart happy.
Watering Green Beans
Green beans need around 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week. To help prevent diseases, beans do better with an in-ground or drip irrigation system. If you don’t have those, try to water at the base of the plant.
Fertilizing Green Beans
Beans are legumes, so they fix their own nitrogen and a fertilizer isn’t a requirement. Many gardeners find that adding compost to the soil in the spring is sufficient.
Pole beans produce for a long time, so they can benefit from a feeding or a side dressing of compost. You could even side dress with composted manure halfway through the growing season.
Pull Weeds and Mulch
Green Beans aren’t a fan of weeds, but who really is? Pull weeds before they become established. Weeds with deep roots might harm your green bean plants if you try to uproot them because green beans have shallow roots.
Once your plants are large enough, add 1-2 inches of mulch. Mulch helps retain soil moisture and protects the bean’s shallow roots.
Watch for Pests and Diseases
You always need to be watchful of pests and diseases. I haven’t had too many issues with diseases, but rabbits and deer do love to eat these plants. If deer and rabbits are an issue in your area, consider a garden fence! Some gardeners grow their green beans up floating row covers until harvest.
Floating row covers can make the temperature around your plants too high. Another choice is just to use an insect netting over your plants that allows for maximum airflow.
Companion Plants for Green Beans
Just like all legumes, green beans increase the nitrogen in the soil, so they make an amazing companion plant for several crops, especially those that are heavy nitrogen feeders.
Did you know that corn is one of the heaviest nitrogen feeders? it makes sense that the Native Americans called corn, beans, and squash the “Three Sisters.” They grew the beans up the corn stalks, which offered support, while the beans fed the corn with nitrogen.
Some of the best companion plants for green beans are:
Harvesting and Storing Green Beans
Harvesting green beans is a busy ask. Pole beans produce for the entire season, so you’ll find yourself harvesting often. Bush beans harvest within 1-2 weeks, and those weeks are busy.
You can harvest anytime after the beans form, but usually, you want them to firm up a bit. You don’t want to see the seeds inside bulging. A good comparison is that you should pick green beans when they’re as thick as a pencil.
Whatever you do, don’t wait too long to harvest! Beans can become overgrown and tough overnight! Pull each bean from the plant and then snap them off at the ends. Snapping green beans is a favorite chore for little kids.
Bush beans are ready to harvest in 50-55 days, and pole beans take 55-65 days. Check your packet to determine the dates to maturity.
Once you have all those yummy green beans, what are you going to do with them? Fry them, cook them with potatoes and bacon, boil, make a soup, or try one of the thousands of green bean recipes you can find online.
If you don’t want to cook them immediately, you can freeze or can green beans. Check out these past posts for help doing both!
Useful Resources for Growing Green Beans
- Berry Plastics Film-Gard Plastic Polyethylene Sheeting
- Wildroot Organic Inoculant Powder for Explosive Plant Root Growth
- Dura-Trel Winchester Trellis
- Hydrofarm Natural Bamboo Stakes – Pack of 25
- TCamp Heavy Duty Polyester Plan Trellis Netting
- AGFabric Floating Row Cover
- AGFabric Standard Insect Screen & Garden Netting