About Beans: Beans are one of the favorite vegetables to grow for home gardeners. Garden beans belong to the legume family. There are many types of bean varieties to choose from for home gardeners. Beans come in different colors, there are green beans, yellow wax beans, and purple colored beans. Growing habit wise, some are bush beans and some are pole beans. The advantage of growing bush beans is you do not need to set up trellis to support them, the disadvantage is bush beans tend to produce in a short, concentrated period of time. For this reason, most commercially produced beans are bush beans. Pole beans on the other hand, need to be supported by trellising or grown next to a fence where they can clime. They have a much longer harvesting period comparing to the bush varieties. As the plants will continue to grow, flower and produce beans throughout the growing season.
Beans love heat, are are not tolerate to cold. Beans should be grown during the frost free period of the year. The minimum germination temperature is 59°F , below which germination is poor. The ideal growing temperature for beans is between 68-86°F. Although beans have the ability to fix nitrogen, extra fertilizers are needed in the early stage of development. These conditions need to be met in order to grow beans successfully.
Directions for Growing Beans in the Home Garden:
1. Soil and Planting Bed Preparation: Select location where beans were not planted in the previous year. Till the garden or turn the soil over with a spade. Add 3" of compost and mix it into the soil. Lightly scatter a small amount of all-purpose fertilizer and work the it into the soil. Form the soil into 3'x6' beds by lifting the soil from the sides and piling it onto the center, leaving a path 16" wide between beds for walking.
2. Direct Sowing: Sow beans when the soil temperature is at least 59°F. For bush beans, plant two rows in each above mentioned bed, drop 2-3 seeds every 12". For pole beans, plant one row, drop 2-3 seeds every 16". Cover the sowing sites, and water well and keep the soil moist until beans germinate. If you wish to sow before the soil temperature reaches 59°F, cover the sowing site with a 6 mil clear plastic sheet. This can raise the soil temperature to 10 degrees, allowing the seeds to germinate. After the seeds germinate, remove the cover. And the weather should be warmed up sufficiently when removing the plastic sheet.
3. Caring for the Plants: Water deeply once all the seeds have germinated. Remove weeds as the plants grow, loosen the soil around the base while weeding, this will facilitate the development of a healthy root system. Because beans have large extensive root system, they should be watered deeply and infrequently, rather than shallow and frequent watering. For pole beans, start the trellising when the plants are 6" tall. Avoid over watering when the plants are flowering. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet. Increase the watering when the beans are forming pods. This will help the bean pods to expand and grow tender.
4. Fertilizing: Besides the initial fertilizer and compost, more fertilizers can be added by side dressing (apply the fertilizers on the side of the plants). If plants appear yellowing apply extra nitrogen fertilizer. Apply phosphorus fertilizer in the later stage to increase yield.
5. Harvesting: For most home gardeners, fresh beans are the main harvest. Fresh beans are usually ready to harvest 10-15 days after flowering. Bush beans can be harvested 2-3 times in a 20-30 day period, where pole beans can be harvesting up to two month by picking every 3-4 days.
6. Seed Saving: Most garden beans are self pollenating, which makes them good candidates for seed saving. If harvesting for seeds, allow beans to fully mature on the plants. Harvest and remove the shells. Allow the beans to dry and store them in a dark cool place until ready to use. Bean seeds will stay viable for 4-5 years.