Green Beans: How-to Plant, Grow & Harvest

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Grow Your Own Green Beans

Green Beans are a staple here at our place.  They are on the dinner table at least 3 times a week.  The kids even ask for green beans, so that’s saying a lot about the green bean for sure!

So are you wondering how in the world to grow you own green beans and then what to do with them after they have grown?  You’ve came to the right place.  Today we’re gonna talk about planting, growing and then the best part – harvesting green beans.

Lets get started…

Green Bean Varieties

There are several varieties of green beans that can be grown on the homestead or in the backyard garden. I’m not sure of the exact number of varieties, I do know there are over 50.  They can be stringless, as well as come in different sizes, textures and colors.  But for the most part, they can be divided into 2 main categories – Bush and Pole Beans.  

I’m often ask what our favorite variety green bean is and I must say I tend to stick with the bush bean Mountaineer White Half Runner.  It’s grows to about 6 inches long and has this wonderful white bean inside the green shell. The White Half Runner is NOT a stringless bean though.

Green Beans on Vine
Green Beans on Vine

The other favorite choice is the Blue Lake Bush bean, it is a stringless.  Jarrett, my husband, prefers the Blue Lake over the White Half Runner.  He is not much on the little white bean that is inside the White Half Runner.   Blue Lakes can be found in both the bush and pole variety.  I grow the bush.

Bush beans grow in a compact habit and tend to mature quickly. They do not necessarily need trellised.

Some Common Bush Bean Varieties Include

  • Blue Lake 274 – Ready to harvest in 60 days, a dark green heavy yield plant.  The pod grows to about 6 inches long
  • Cantare – Harvest in about 50-55 days.  Superior producer of a very straight slim 4-5 inch pod.
  • Contender – Ready to harvest in approximately 50 days.  Produces high yields of beans.
  • Empress – Ready to harvest in 55 days.  A snap bean for fresh eating, freezing and processing, 5-6 inch pods
  • Burpee’s Stringless – Harvest in 45-50 days.  A totally stringless bean that is about 5 inches long
  • Landreth Stringless – Ready to harvest in about 55 days.  Pods are medium size about 5 inches long, bean is a rich brown or chocolate color.
  • White Half Runner – Ready for harvest in 60 days average.  A heavy producer with pods about 4.5 inches long and a white seeds that have a sweet flavor.

The pole bean is just as its name implies. This variety will grow as long as the garden grows and will continue to produce.  The pole bean will need to be trellised and staked to give the bean adequate room to grow.  Trellising will also make harvesting a lot easier.

A Few Common Pole Bean Varieties

  • Kentucky Wonder – Grows in large clusters of 7-10 beans that are about 7 inches long.  Can be harvested in about 65 days.
  • Rattlesnake Snap -Dark green pods that are about 8 inches long and have a purple streak that grows in it.  They can be harvested in about 65-90 days.
  • Lazy Wife – Ready to harvest in 80-100 days.  Pods grow to about 7 inches long and are completely stringless.

This is only a FEW of the green bean varieties.  If you want to learn more varieties I would recommend you ordering the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog or the Seed Savers Exchange Catalog.  Both are great companies and very helpful if you have questions.

How to Grow Green Beans

Green beans are not difficult to grow.  They can be planted directly into the garden soil and before you know, you’ll be having fresh green beans from your garden. Make sure the location gets a minimum of 6 hours sunlight per day.

If you don’t have a garden already, you can learn all about how to start a garden in this article.  Once you have your soil ready, the work will be easier using the simple tools needed for gardening, you’ll be all ready to put beans in the ground!

Since they are going into the soil, they need to be planted about 2 weeks AFTER your last frost date. (You can find that here)

Pole and Bush Beans are Planted Differently

Bush Beans: This is the easiest type to grow, in my opinion.   If you are gardening in a traditional “in ground” garden; using a hoe, lay off rows about 2 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep – 2 feet apart.  If in a raised bed, you can pretty much do the same except no need to be 2 feet apart.  Taking your bean seeds, drop them about 4 inches apart into the soil.  Cover them with 1.5 inches of soil and water well.

Other instructions will tell you to plant them about 2 inches apart and then “thin them.”  I am not a fan of thinning, as I’ve said many times.  I can’t stand the thought of pulling up a perfectly healthy plant and tossing it into the compost because “I planted to close.”  If a bean does not germinate, (come up), simply place another bean in its place, it will catch up.

Pole beans takes a bit more work.  They need to be planted on mounds that are 8-10 inches tall, 2 feet across in size, and 3 feet apart.  Place your supports for the bean directly in the center of the mound and push 2-3 bean seeds into each mound about 6 inches apart.  They too, need to be planted 1.5 inches deep.  If you are planting in a single row, you will need to trellis each row.  Or you may choose to plant in double rows, if so, one trellis can be adequate support for 2 rows, put it in the middle.  Water each mound well.

Green Bean Trellis
White Half Runner Trellis using String

This is my raised bed garden and my trellis is twine that I string from one pole to the next.  It is compostable and when the beans are done producing, I don’t have to spend time pulling the plant off a trellis.  I simply cut the string from the support and toss everything into the compost pile.  Quick and easy.

Caring for your Green Beans

Green beans, thankfully, are not hard to care for.  They need pretty much 3 things done to keep them healthy.

Watering:

They need about 2 inches of water per week. When you water, focus on getting the water down onto the roots and keeping it off the leaves as much as possible.  This will help to keep the plants disease free and insure the roots are getting the most moisture possible they need on a regular basis.   If it rains on a regular basis where you live, watering may not be necessary.

Here in Tennessee, we tend to have very dry summers and watering is completely necessary.  If green bean plants don’t get adequate water, their blooms tend to fall off.  If blooms fall off, the plant will not produce beans.  They especially need to be watered consistently during blooming.

Weeding:

Hoeing the rows is not really necessary unless you have a real weed problem.  A quick way to control weeds it to put down a 2-3 inch layer of straw or mulch over your garden immediately after you plant your beans.  They will find their way up through it.

Also, not only does a layer of straw or mulch help to control weeds, it also acts a barrier to hold in moisture which is good for the beans.  If you don’t have access to straw, a layer of chopped leaves or grass clippings also works well as a moisture barrier and weed control.

Fertilizing:

If your soil is well prepared with organic amendments, then fertilizing is not be required.  Green beans are light feeders and fertilizing should be avoided.  Green beans are naturally nitrogen “fixers” and so adding extra nitrogen to them could result lots of veins and leaves with very few beans.

Working with organic amendments can help to make your soil healthy, so that fertilizers are not necessary.  I have a soil test done every-other year to keep a good check on our soil to make sure it continues to be healthy.  I would highly recommend a soil test.  You can go here to find your local extension office to help you with the process.

Harvesting – Yum! The Best Part

Both pole beans and bush beans are harvest in the same way.  They need to be harvested when they are small and tender.  Continue to harvest every few days to keep the plants flowering and producing.

Pods need to be picked before they become tough.  Unless of course, you are saving seed for next year, then allowing them to dry-out on the vine is best.

Using two hands, hold the plant vine and gently pull the bean from the vine with the other hand.  Being careful to not harm the plant.  Once you get the hang of picking beans, it can actually be done with one hand and the process will go much faster.

Green beans are self-pollinating so different varieties can be grown next to each other.  If you are trying to save seeds for next years planting, I would recommend you differing varieties in separate beds to prevent cross-pollination.

As I said earlier, growing green beans is not difficult.  It can actually be a fun activity for the entire family.  The seeds are large enough for little hands to plant them and the idea of building a “teepee” trellis is very exciting.  Once the beans are to full size the kids can actually play inside – how awesome would this be?

I hope this year in your garden you will be planting and enjoying green beans.  Please feel free to share images and comments below of your awesome green beans.

Enjoy your harvest!

Pin for LaterHow to Grow Green Beans

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