Growing Green Beans

Green beans are a popular, warm-season, home garden vegetable crop. They grow well in most soils. Like most vegetables, green beans grow best in well drained soil and plenty of sunlight.

Soil Preparation

Work the soil 8 to 10 inches deep before planting. Rake it several times to break up large clods. Remove all weeds and trash. Work the garden soil only when it is dry enough not to stick to garden tools.

Fertilizing

Beans grow best when the garden soil is well fertilized. For an area that is 10 feet long and 10 feet wide, use 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer such as 10-20-10. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the area. Then mix it in with the top 3 to 4 inches of soil.

Varieties

Bush Beans stand erect without support. They yield well and require the least amount of work. Green bush beans were formerly called "string beans" because fiber developed along the seams of the pods. Plant breeders have reduced these fibers through selection and green beans are now referred to as "snap beans."

Pole Beans climb supports and are easily harvested.

Snap Beans Pinto Beans Lima Beans
Topcrop
Tendercrop
Tendergreen
Greencrop
Kentucky Wonder
UI-114
Luna
Dwarf Horticultural
Jackson Wonder
Florida Butter
Henderson Bush

Planting

Green Beans organically grown Beans are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost. They should be planted after all danger of frost is past in the spring. For a good fall crop, plant them 10 to 12 weeks before the first expected frost. Use 1/4 to 1/2 pound of seed for each 100 feet of row of green beans. If possible, use fungicide-treated seed to protect the seedling from disease until it is up and growing. Do not eat treated seed.

If the soil has warmed before the average last-frost date, an early planting may be made a week to 10 days before this date. You can assure yourself a continuous supply of snap beans by planting every 2 to 4 weeks until early August.

For bush beans, plant the seed about 1 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart in the row. The rows should be 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart. After the beans are up, thin the plants to 3 to 4 inches apart (Figures 1 and 2).

For pole beans, plant the seed in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Plant them in hills about 3 feet apart in the row. Place a 6- to 8-foot stake in the center of each hill. Plant three to four seeds around the stake, about 1 inch deep in the soil. As the bean vines mature, they will grow up the stake (Figure 3).

Try to plant when there is enough soil moisture to cause the seeds to germinate and emerge quickly.

Care and Watering

Water the pIants about once a week in dry weather. Do not let the soil get dry while the beans are blooming or the blooms will drop and yields will be decreased.

Seeds of most varieties tend to crack and germinate poorly if the soil's moisture content is too high. For this reason, never soak bean seed before planting. Instead water just after planting or plant right before a heavy rain.

Beans have shallow roots and frequent shallow cultivation and hoeing are necessary to control small weeds and grasses. Because bean plants have fairly weak root systems, deep, close cultivation injures the plant roots, delays harvest and reduces yields.

The roots of beans are near the soil surface. When hoeing and pulling weeds, do not dig too deeply or the plant's roots will be damaged. After the plants begin to flower and set beans, apply 1/2 Cup of fertilizer for every 10 feet of row. Scatter the fertilizer between the rows. This will help the plants produce more beans. Water the plants after fertilizing.

Green Bean Diseases

Diseases may be a problem during cool, wet weather.

The bean mosaic diseases cause plants to turn a yellowish green and produce few or no pods. The leaves on infected plants are a mottled yellow and are usually irregularly shaped. The only satisfactory control for these diseases is to use mosaic-resistant bean varieties.

Bright yellow or brown spots on the leaves or water-soaked spots on the pods are signs of bacterial bean blight. Bacterial blight is best controlled by planting disease-free seed; avoiding contact with wet bean plants; and removing all bean debris from the garden.

Harvesting Green Beans

Green beans are ready to pick when they are about the size of a small pencil. Pull them carefully to avoid damaging the plant. Beans that are overmature will be tough and stringy.

Harvest when the pods are firm, crisp and fully elongated, but before the seed within the pod has developed significantly. Pick beans after the dew is off the plants, and they are thoroughly dry. Picking beans from wet plants can spread bean bacterial blight, a disease that seriously damages the plants. Be careful not to break the stems or branches, which are brittle on most bean varieties. The bean plant continues to form new flowers and produces more beans if pods are continually removed before the seeds mature.

If beans are picked when they are ready, the plants will continue producing for several weeks.

Green Beans with Butter

Serving Green Beans

Fresh green beans add color and variety to meals. Green beans are a fair source of Vitamins A and C if cooked for a short time in a very small amount of boiling water. Cook them just until they are tender. Do not cook them too long or they will become mushy and lose their bright green color.

Storing Green Beans

Store fresh beans in the crisper, in plastic bags or in other containers in the refrigerator. They usually can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

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