How To Grow Beans

Planting Beans

Beans are a warm weather crop that prefer full sun and well-drained soil. These easy to grow annuals need to be directly sown approximately 2 weeks after last frost. Just as the plants are tender, so are the seeds. Ripe soil temperature for planting is 65-95° F. Cool soils below 55° F. will rot the seeds. Beans prefer soils to be more acidic with a pH between 6.0 to 6.8. Seed Depth: 1 ½" Plant Spacing: (Bush) 3-6" (Pole) 6-8" Row Spacing: 24-36" Thin as needed. Allow seeds 5 to 10 days to germinate. White-seeded beans commonly do not germinate as well as dark-seeded beans. Plant in successions of 2-3 weeks until mid-summer for a continual harvest. Because of their shallow roots, cultivate around them carefully. Applying mulch will help retain moisture and prevent weeds. Note: Pole beans will require staking.

Harvesting Beans

Harvest the beans once they are firm and crisp. If you can see the developed seed through the pod, and the pod itself is tough, the bean is over-mature and will be hard to eat. Pick beans only when the plants are completely dry or bacterial blight may spread. The more you pick them, the more they'll produce, oftentimes until the first frosts of fall, so keep on picking to reap a bountiful harvest! Beans can be canned, frozen, or dried. Just be sure to not wash them before storing them in plastic bags. This can cause black spots and decay. Instead wash the beans right before cooking.

Saving Bean Seeds

Beans are self-pollinators and most varieties do not commonly cross-pollinate each other. Beans of similar color need only be separated far enough apart to keep vines from intertwining. If variety is rare and you want to guarantee the strain, plant 100 feet apart. Wait until pods are dry and papery-like before pulling the entire plant up. Then hang in a dry, airy place until seeds are fully dry. You shouldn't be able to make a dent on the dry seed with your fingernail. Shelled seed should last 2-4 years under proper, cool, dry storage conditions.

Common Problems

  • Root Rot
    This disease stems from different soil-borne fungi. It's not as common where the soil is warm and well-drained. It can be prevented by crop rotation and planting in soil temperatures above 60° F.

  • White Mold
    This disease causes blight to spread upon the pods and stem of the plant. Plants tend to fall prey to it under cool, damp conditions. Widen space between plants to allow more air in. Infected plants must be removed.

  • Bacterial Bean Blight
    Yellow or brown spots on the leaves and/or wet spots on the pods will occur when your plant is infected with this disease. The best way to avoid this is by not handling the plants when wet and keeping your garden clean of any infected plants.

  • Aphids
    These frustrating critters will quickly weaken your plants, bringing viruses upon them. Pear shaped, these insects are about 3/8 in. long and can be many different colors. Their damage will cause the leaves to curl and turn black with mold. In our gardens here, Diane likes to plant lots of marigolds which draw helpful insects to our aid, for example the lady bird and the hover fly, both of which prey on aphids. A plant sprayed with homemade garlic or a strong stream of water does the trick as well to rid your garden of the aphid plague.

  • Leafhoppers
    These insects are lime green and wedge-shaped. While the adults have wings and can fly, the nymphs are smaller and have no wings. They are normally found on the underside of the leaves. They earned their name from their tendency to jump when disturbed. Infested plants will reveal stunted, crinkled, and curling leaves. Methods of control include fertilizing in spring and fall, drawing helpful insects such as lady beetles and spiders, spraying plants with a strong stream of water, and putting row cover down when the plants are only a few inches tall.

Suggested Companions

  • Carrots
  • Marigolds
  • Cucumbers
  • Strawberries
  • Corn
  • Summer Savory
  • Tomatoes
  • Cowpeas

Poor Companions

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Kohlrabi
  • Sunflowers