Find more garden information
I've been gardening and writing about gardening for more than 20 years, yet I find I'm always learning new things about the plants, insects and other critters that call my backyard home. That's the great thing about gardening — it's never boring! I've worked as a landscaper, on an organic farm, as a research technician in a plant pathology lab and ran a small cut-flower business, all of which inform my garden writing. Someone once asked me when I'll be finished with my gardens, to which I replied, "Never!" For me, gardening is a process, not a goal.
Beans are one of the easiest crops to grow in a home garden. Plant a bean seed, and it will almost certainly grow and produce a generous crop with little effort on the part of the gardener. However, if you want the biggest and best harvest possible, there are a few things you should know. Most important: understand the difference between pole beans and bush beans.
Pole beans need a tall, sturdy support to climb. We recommend the Bean Tower, an economical way to grow bushels of beans in just 1-1/2 square feet. It provides sturdy support for several plants, with 10″ legs that hold it securely in the ground.
Many popular varieties are available in both forms; for example, there are both pole and bush varieties of Blue Lake beans. The beans themselves taste similar; just the growth habit varies.
Beans are warm-season crops that grow quickly from seeds planted directly into the garden. There's no need to start them indoors. Wait to sow until all danger of frost has passed; if you have a soil thermometer, let the soil to warm to about 60 degrees F. Select a site in full sun for the biggest harvest.
Diseases: To prevent seed rot, don't plant seeds in cold, wet soil. And avoid working in the bean patch when the leaves are wet (to prevent spreading foliar diseases).
Insects: Bean leaf beetles attack bean seedlings; protect young plants with garden fabric and/or hand-pick to keep small populations under control.
Harvesting: Once beans begin maturing, harvest them frequently and remove any overripe beans to help prolong production. When bush beans stop producing, pull out the plants and put them in the compost pile. Pole beans may continue producing until frost kills the plant.
Yes, beans have a reputation for causing certain gastric conditions. This is due to the presence of a particular type of sugar that the enzymes in the human digestive tract can't break down, so the sugar ferments. Young beans ("green" ones) have less of this sugar than mature ones (such as kidney beans and pinto beans). Beano is an enzyme supplement that helps break down this sugar, minimizing the "magic."
When most gardeners think of beans, they think of the green beans found in the produce or freezer sections of their supermarkets. But there are many other types based on pod color.
Most types of beans can be eaten at three stages of growth; different varieties have been developed for different uses, however. Some shell bean varieties, for example, may have tough, stringy pods even when they're immature.
Last updated: 3/26/19
Stay up to date on new articles and advice.