Green Beans, the Easiest Garden Vegetable
Green Bean Nutrition:
Green Beans (also called snap or string beans) are a great addition to most gardens, as they are easy to grow and delicious raw, stir-fried or steamed.
They are also rich in many beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals. These include:
Phytochemicals: Lutein, quercetin, kaemferol, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, neoxanthin and more!
Vitamins: B6, B2, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and more.
Important points and a few extra tips:
1. Wait for warm weather to plant (65 + degrees)
2. Water evenly.
3. Plant beans close together, but make sure the leaves have air to breath.
4. Rotate your crops.
5. Keep around the bean plants weeded and free of debris.
6. Keep your beans picked.
7. Stagger plantings (for green beans all season long.)
Green beans come in two growing variations:
Pole: Grows on a vine and needs a stake or “pole” to grow up.
Bush: Grows in a small bushy shape and does not need a pole or stake.
Although many varieties of string beans are green, they are also found in colors such as purple, red, yellow and variegated. They can also be found in a variety of lengths (4-8 inches long) and pod shapes such as round vs. flat. All varieties of string beans are commonly harvested before the beans reach maturity as they are prized for their crisp edible pods.
Where to plant:
String beans are annuals and like sun, space and slightly acid, well-draining soil.
They can be planted in a garden bed or in a container. For container growing, make up or buy or create a good veganic potting mix and follow the directions below, growing one plant per one gallon pot.
Sun: Full sun
Soil: Fertile, well-draining soil which is slightly acidic (about 6.0-6.2.)
If you’re a beginner, or if you don’t want to test your soil acidity, don’t worry too much about this aspect.
When: They can be planted throughout the year anytime after the danger of frost has passed and then up to 10-12 weeks before the next expected frost. They like warm soil above 65 degrees, although excessively high temperatures can weaken and damage plants.
Main differences between pole and bush:
Cons: Pole beans need a support for them to grow on, such a pole, fence or trellis. They also take longer to produce beans than the bush varieties.
Naturally, because pole beans grow up a vine, they must develop a vine before the plant begins to produce, meaning there is a longer duration between planting to harvest.
Pros: You can make creative structures for the pole beans to grow up. Once pole beans begin producing, they produce for longer than the bush varieties.
Cons: They will not produce beans for as long as the pole varieties.
Pros: They are free standing and need no support structure to grow on.
Spacing and How to Plant:
Don’t soak your beans overnight!
Although many sites recommend soaking your beans overnight to germinate, I will warn you against this. Soaking overnight can cause the beans to split in half or rot in the ground. If you’re having issues with getting your beans to germinate, you can soak them for 30 minutes or less before putting them in the ground or put them in between two wet paper towels the night before planting.
I’ve had great luck with just popping them in the ground and then watering the soil around where the beans are planted.
(If you are using starts instead of planting from seed follow the explanations below for row spacing and support structures.)
Direct sowing is recommended.
If you want to thin out your garden bed later on: Plant seeds 1-2 inches apart.
If you don’t want to thin later: Plant seeds approximately 6 inches apart.
Each seed (bean) should be sowed 1-2 inches deep in rows that are 1.5′-2′ feet apart. This ensures that the leaves have room to breathe, which is particularly important if you wish to avoid powdery mildew and other such issues beans are prone to.
Direct sowing is recommended.
Each seed (bean) should be sowed 1-2 inches deep near a stake, trellis, or fence that they can cling to and grow up.
If you want to thin out your garden bed later on: Plant seeds 1-2 inches apart at the base of your support structure.
If you don’t want to thin later: Plant seeds approximately 4-6 inches apart at the base of your support structure.
Tip: You can make a fun garden teepee for your kids using this variety of string bean. You can also allow your beans to grow up cornstalks that are already established to create a beneficial double planting.
Watering: Keep both bush and pole beans well watered, but be careful, as beans tend to rot in the ground if overwatered. To avoid this, allow the top layer of soil to dry in-between watering your starts. Once the plants emerge from the soil, knowing when and how much to water them becomes easy.
If the soil looks dry and your plants begin to droop then you know that the plant needs more water.
Fertilizing: Both bush and pole beans enjoy well-fertilized soil. If you have time before planting, dig some fertilizer into the beds you will be using, such as compost or spirulina (at least two weeks before planting). If you‘re not able to do this and or you would like to start planting right away, you can also side dress with fertilizer around your plants after they emerge from the soil. Because pole beans produce for longer they will also benefit from a side dressing of fertilizer part way through their growing period.
Days to Harvest:
This varies greatly from variety to variety, but it can range anywhere from 50-85 days. Simply check the seed packet or start tag for the duration from start to harvest of the variety of string bean you have chosen to grow.
Once your bean plants begin to produce pods it is best to pick them regularly. This signals the plants to keep producing and keeps the beans edible and tender. If you are using an heirloom variety that can be grown next year from the beans it produces, you can also leave a pod or two on the plant so that the beans will mature and can then be dried and saved.
I usually harvest my green beans when they are about the size of a pencil or thinner and I continue to do this every other day throughout their lifespan. If you let your beans get overgrown they will become tough and may develop strings.
To pick: Hold onto the plant or vine and simply snap the tip attached to the plant off (if you are using the beans right away.) If you are not using the beans right away, hold on to the plant or vine and snap or snip off the string that is holding the bean onto the plant.
Problems that may arise:
Although relatively easy to grow, bush and pole beans are prone to certain diseases such as powdery mildew, anthracnose, bacterial blight and rust mosaic.
There are some varieties that are more disease resistant than others, but I tend to focus on my favorite flavors and heirloom varieties rather than this factor.
Tips to keep your plants healthy:
– Use healthy seeds to start
– Rotate crops after each planting
– Keep around the plants clear of debris (rotting leaves, weeds etc.) *
*I have read that bean plants like mulch, which nourishes and protects the soil while keeping the moisture level in the soil even. I have not tested this though.
There are also a couple of types of bugs that like bean plants:
Mexican Bean Beetles: Mexican bean beetles are large brown/copper colored ladybug-like bug.
Japanese Beetles: Japanese Beetles are small and metallic-green.
Aphids: There are many different varieties of aphids. But if you see a bean leaf covered in tiny bugs, larger than a mite, but smaller than a ladybug, it’s probably an aphid.
Simply pick off the leaf that is infected or any of the adult beetles, larvae or eggs you discover. If you see aphids, give the leaves a good hosing to knock them off. Any leaves or beans low to the ground may attract slugs as well, so trim them if needed.