Beans are annual bush or vine plants popularly grown in the garden. Beans consist of many different varieties and are harvested at different times based on the variety. Proper cultural practices will maximize the performance of beans in the garden, and this article will detail how to best grow beans in the vegetable garden.
Beans need well fertilized soil to get established. Once the plants are established, they will fix nitrogen into the soil, which will be available to crops the following year as the bean roots will then be decomposed. Beans like slightly acidic to neutral soil, and bear throughout the entire growing season. Grow climbing or pole beans on the northern end of the garden to negate the affect of their shade in the garden.
Seed can be sewn into the garden after frost danger is over. The seeds take a week to sprout. Have poles or trellises in the ground if the beans are climbing, before sowing the seed. Keep moist until plants are established, then water regularly.
Bush bean varieties stay low to the ground and grow compact. They do not turn into vines. However, they tend to bear over less of a time and overall yields are less. Bush beans require less maintenance and are easier to grow due to their compact habit. Varieties include green, yellow, and purple beans. Lima beans also grow in bush form, as are the types of southern peas. Southern peas include black eyed pea, Crowder pea, and cream pea. Stagger plantings of bush beans every few weeks until midsummer in order to have a continuous harvest.
Pole bean varieties require a stake or trellis to climb on. Ideal trellises are ones with little horizontal branching, as these sometimes impede the vines. Pole beans maximize space and yield; they bear more as they are growing upright, and they bear for a longer duration. The plant continues to grow longer, unlike bush beans which set their crop and burn out. Sow several seeds around each pole and space poles about two feet apart. Also climbing poles are scarlet runner beans, asparagus beans, some lima beans, and the three varieties of southern pea.
Beans that are eaten green are ready when the pod is full sized and snaps when bent. The seeds should not yet be bulging the pod. Lima beans and other beans that are harvested when dry are not ready until the pod is dried and brown. Lima beans are ready when seeds are full size but pods are still green.
Diseases that affect beans are anthracnose, mosaic, bacterial blight, seed rot, root rot, and stem rot. Look for mosaic resistant varieties and bacterial blight resistant varieties if these are a problem. Seed rot is caused when the soil is too cold and too moist. Lima beans are more susceptible to seed rot. Plant seeds indoors and transplant to garden if this is a problem, or plant later if time allows.
Insects that affect beans are leafhoppers, Mexican bean beetles, mites, and aphids. These can be controlled by hand in most cases, while severe infestations may need treatment. Mexican bean beetles sometimes lay eggs on the leaves, and these can be hand picked. Bean plants sometimes drop their blossoms during dry and excessive heat. If plants are not bearing much, there could be too much nitrogen.
By following these simple cultural practices, beans can be grown prolifically and gardeners can avert or treat any drawbacks.