Pole and bush beans (more commonly called green beans) are a tender vegetable and a great addition to any garden! Green beans are delicious when incorporated into any recipe.The main difference between bush and pole beans is the plants’ growing styles: bush beans tend to grow more compactly and do not require support, while pole beans will vine and need to be grown up stakes or trellises. Bush beans generally require less maintenance and are easier to grow, but pole beans typically yield more beans and are very disease resistant.
Pole beans will grow as a climbing vine that may reach up to 15 feet tall. Therefore, pole beans require a trellis or staking. Bush beans will spread up to 2 feet, but do not require support.
Do not start seeds indoors; they may not survive transplanting.
Seeds can be sown outdoors anytime after the last spring frost; minimum soil temperature is 48 degrees F. Plant 1 inch deep in normal soil, and a little deeper for sandier soils. Cover soil to warm if necessary.
Bush beans: Plant 2 inches apart.
Pole beans: Set up trellises, or “cattle panels,” and plant 3 inches apart.
If you like pole beans, an easy support for them is a “cattle panel”—a portable section of wire fence—16 feet long and 5 feet tall. The beans will climb with ease and you won’t have to get into contorted positions to pick them.
For a harvest that lasts all summer, sow beans every 2 weeks. If you’re going to be away, skip a planting. Beans do not wait for anyone.
Rotate crops each year.
- Mulch soil to retain moisture; make sure that it is well-drained.
- Water regularly, from start of pod to set. Water on sunny days so foliage will not remain soaked.
- Beans require normal soil fertility. Only fertilize where levels are low. Begin after heavy bloom and set of pods.
- Use a light hand when applying high-nitrogen fertilizer, or you will get lush foliage and few beans.
- Weed diligently and use shallow cultivation to prevent disturbing the root systems.
- Mexican Bean Beetles
- Japanese Beetles
- Cucumber Beetles
- White Mold
- Mosaic Viruses
- Bean blossoms will drop from the plant if the weather is too hot, and too much nitrogen in the soil will prevent pods from setting.
- Beans are picked at an immature stage, when the seeds inside have not yet fully developed.
- Look for firm, sizable pods and snap or cut off the plant. Do not tear the plant.
- Fresh beans should snap easily when broken.
- Store beans in a moisture-proof, airtight container in the refrigerator. Beans will toughen over time even when stored properly.
- Beans can be kept fresh for about 4 days, or blanched and frozen immediately after harvesting.
- Beans can also be canned or pickled.
- ‘Bush Blue Lake’ (bush): Keeps flavor well after harvest.
- ‘Bountiful’ (bush): Early producer.
- ‘Bean Mascotte’ (bush): Compact, ideal for container gardens.
- ‘Fortex’ (pole): French variety, large beans.
- ‘Kentucky Wonder’ (pole): Will produce a bountiful harvest.
Wit & Wisdom
Beans are commonly used in everyday expressions to indicate something of little value. Consequently, someone who isn’t worth a hill of beans is seen as being worth very little, although one could argue that today a hill of beans actually costs a pretty penny.