Green beans are one of the most popular plants grown in vegetable gardens today. They are fairly easy to grow and are extremely prolific producers in most cases. Green beans are grown for their delicious pods and beans which are used in many dishes such as soups, stews, casseroles, or just cooked by themselves.
There are generally two different types of green beans grown in vegetable gardens – pole beans and bush beans.
Pole beans are a vining green bean that is commonly grown up a trellis or pole, and will grow many runners. Bush beans typically grow as a relatively small bush and do not produce any runners. Both types of green beans will continually produce pods throughout the season.
How To Plant Green Beans
Green beans are fairly adaptable to most conditions, but need to be planted in an area that receives at least six to eight hours of full sunlight each day. The soil should be fertile, well-drained, and slightly acidic to neutral. Plant seeds after the danger of frost has passed.
In cooler zones with shorter growing seasons, warm the soil using black plastic or some type of mulch.
Both types of green beans perform best when sowed directly into the vegetable garden once the soil has reached a temperature of 65°F.
Bush beans seeds should be sowed about one inch deep and spaced apart about two – four inches apart. If using rows, make sure the rows are spaced apart at least 24 inches.
Pole beans seeds should be planted one and a half to two inches deep with six inches of spacing per plant. Pole beans perform best when allowed to grow up a trellis, fence, or pole. This will allow the pole beans to grow vertically, saving space in the vegetable garden.
Green bean seeds can be dampened and dusted with a rhizobial inoculant just before planting to help fix nitrogen in the soil.
Green beans can be interplanted with corn, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
How To Care for Green Beans
Green beans do best when daytime temperatures are between 70°F and 85°F. When temperatures get above 85°F the green bean blossoms may begin to drop. Try to provide some shade, or floating row covers when temperatures become too warm to prevent blossom drop.
Green beans are also very sensitive to cold temperatures. Temperatures below 35°F will kill any blossoms and pods, resulting in the death of the plant. Extreme fluctuations in soil temperature can lead to malformed pods. Mulching around plants can help keep soil temperatures consistent.
Pole beans should be allowed to grow up a trellis, or fence. You can easily create a tripod-type trellis using bamboo poles, tree saplings, or wooden stakes. For more information on building a teepee trellis for pole beans, check out our article – Build a TeePee Trellis for Pole Beans.
Cut off the terminal end of each plant once it reaches the top of the trellis to encourage branching.
Green bean plants are very tender and easily damaged when weeding with tools. It is much better to pull weeds by hand to avoid plant and root damage. Use mulch around plant to help suppress weeds and conserve soil moisture.
Keep soil consistently moist, but only water plants in the morning hours. This will give the plant leaves a chance to completely dry before dusk and reduce the risk of disease. Avoid working around, and harvesting green beans when they are damp, or wet to prevent the spread of fungal spores.
Since green beans are legumes, they supply their own nitrogen, but can benefit from a monthly application of soluble plant food that is high in potassium and phosphorus.
How To Harvest Green Beans
Carefully pinch or snip green bean pods from the plant to avoid uprooting or disturbing the plant if it is still producing. Be sure to consult the seed packet or plant tag for proper harvest times for your specific green bean variety. Pick pods frequently to promote optimum production and tenderness.
Harvest dry beans when the pods are fully mature and have changed color. Dry pods may shatter and the beans could easily come out. Place a sheet below the plants to capture loose beans.
Immature pods of snap and pole beans can be harvested usually six to nine weeks after planting.They can be eaten fresh raw, steamed, boiled, sauteed, or in stir-fry. Make sure to blanche green beans when freezing or pressure canning.
Common Pests and Diseases of Green Beans
It is a good idea to choose varieties that are bred with some disease resistance to bacteria and viruses. Practice crop rotation to help avoid diseases that may persist in the soil.
There are many insects that can be damaging to green beans such as aphids, thrips, Japanese beetles, stinkbugs, mites, and weevils. Mexican bean beetle is the main pest of green beans in most home vegetable gardens. It lays its eggs on the underside of bean leaves. Handpick and destroy any eggs that are found, or use neem oil for heavy infestations.
Contact your local extension office for information for common green bean pests in your area. Avoid using pesticides if possible, because green beans flowers attract beneficial ladybugs and are pollinated by bees.