Who doesn’t like to eat a fresh off the vine bean? Growing your own means you can grow and taste different varieties of beans throughout the spring and summer, and even into early fall, instead of the one variety you usually find frozen or canned in the grocery store.
What types of beans are there?
What type of beans do you want to grow? Bush beans are compact, growing 15-20″ tall, and are suitable for container gardens or small space gardens. Pole beans require a trellis to grow on and require a longer growing and harvest season. Lima Beans, or Butter Beans are a good crop for Zone 9 gardens, as they enjoy long hot summers, when night temperatures are above 50 degrees.
Bush Beans that are recommended for Zone 9 gardens are: Early Contender, Goldencrop Wax, Greencrop, Jumbo, Long Tendergreen or Roma II
Pole Bean varieties are Blue Lake, Dade, Kentucky Wonder or Romano Gold. Pole beans can grow to 15 feet, but 6 feet is best for harvesting.
How to I best plant beans?
Plant seeds indoors 2-3 weeks before the last frost. In the Houston area, the last frost is around February 10, so you should plant indoors around January 20 or 27. Direct sow seeds outdoors when the soil temperature is 60 degrees or more, sometime around March 1. Plant the seeds about 1″ deep and with a spacing of 8-10″ for bush beans and 4-6″ for pole beans. Mulch after sprouting to hold moisture at the roots.
Beans are a warm-season vegetable, so they will last through the summer.
You can stagger plant bush beans every two weeks to prolong the harvest. They generally die back after putting on a harvest. You can plant in the fall also, up to about August or September, but the first frost will halt bean production.
Pole beans require a longer growing season, so plant them once in the spring. They will produce beans until late in the season. This year, ours produced until well into October. They will need a trellis to climb on.
Companion plants to help your bean crop thrive
Plant beans in the same spot that you planted Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower earlier. These are heavy feeders, and the beans will replenish the nitrogen used by these previous plants. You can plant beans with corn or radishes. Do not plant them with Kale, Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Scallions, Basil or Fennel, as these will stunt the growth of the bean plants. To increase plot yields, you can plant in the same plot as peas or early spinach after they are done producing.
What about insects eating my harvest?
Insect pests that attack beans are Cucumber Beetles, Spider Mites, Aphids and Mexican Bean Beetles. Companion plant with Potatoes and Marigolds to repel Aphids and Mexican Bean Beetles.
Plant Yarrow to attract Ladybugs to eat the aphids. Yarrow also attracts hoverflies, parasitic wasps and lacewings, all of which are good for the garden and other vegetables. You can read about companion planting in an earlier post.
Successful care and feeding of bean plants
Water deeply at the roots-not on the leaves. There is no need to add nitrogen; beans take nitrogen from the air with the aid of Rhizobium bacteria and put it into their roots, and eventually into the soil. The bacteria are found in the inoculants that cover bean seeds. If you are using your own seeds from the previous harvest, you will have to inoculate yourself; store-bought seeds should be inoculated in the package, or will have a package of inoculant inside the seed package.
Stay out of the garden when the plants are wet from rain or dew; this can help stop the spread of disease. Hoe gently when weeding to avoid disturbing the bean roots. If you have mulched heavily after the beans sprouted, your weed problems will be greatly diminished.
Snap beans are harvested before the beans begin to swell in the pods. Shell beans are left on the plant until the beans are seen in the pod, but before they begin to dry. If you want to dry them, they can be left on the plant, or the plants can be cut and stacked to dry, then the beans can be picked off them. Don’t pull the beans from the plant; this can damage the plant. Instead, use a scissor or a pruning shears to cut the bean pod cleanly from the plant. Continuous harvesting will signal the plant to produce more beans.
Tell me in the comments section, which type of beans do you grow? Do you have any other tips to growing beans?