It is not necessary to be an expert in order to plant beans in your vegetable garden. All you need is a vegetable patch and green thumbs! Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Types of beans
Green beans are available in pole and bush types. They should be harvested when they attain a good size but once they over ripen they taste bitter and become tough. The other types of beans that one can grow are lima beans, yellow beans, butter beans, soy beans, cowpeas or black-eyed peas. In the North you can grow garbanzo beans, white beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and mung beans. Though there are other varieties like the soldier beans, snap beans and adzuki beans, the most popular beans that are grown in homes are varieties of the pole and bush beans.
A Time to Sow
Beans thrive in warm weather and grow abundantly when the soil is well fertilized and drained. Good manure and compost should be added to the soil. Beans produce natural nitrogen due to the bacteria that is lodged in the nodules of the plant roots. Wait for the frost to disappear before you plan to grow beans. Beans grow well in temperatures of 70 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Beans self-pollinate and therefore you can plant them side by side. If you have space to grow more beans you should separate the cultivars by 50 feet and save the seeds from the plants. These seeds can be stored for 3 years and when planted show signs of 70% germination. If the soil is heavy then sow the seed about an inch deep. If you are using light soil make sure that they are sowed half an inch deeper. Pat the earth firmly over the seeds
The seeds can rot if you try to grow it in cold soggy soil. Make sure that the temperature of the soil is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Add compost to the soil if it is heavy to enable the seedlings to grow healthy.
Protect against insects such as beetles
Look out for pests when you are planting beans at home. Use a solution of soap water to spray on the plants when you notice beetles. Some plants are prone to bacterial diseases that make them wilt and yellow. Always ensure that your garden is free from pests by clearing debris frequently.
Beans should be rotated once in two years ideally in order to prevent problems from these soil borne agents. If there is excess moisture stem anthracnose or sclerotina fungi develop. Watch out for rust-colored spots and discard them when they yellow. Blights occur when there is excess humidity or heat.
The seeds and cultivars that are purchased for planting should be disease-free and resistant. The foliage should be dry when planting as wet plants attract diseases.
A Time to Reap
Bush beans will start germinating in a week’s time. The moisture should be maintained in the soil during this time to ensure good harvesting. Carefully water the soil once a week if the rains have not already done the job. The soil will not dry out if you apply layers of mulch over the emerging seedling.
Check if support is needed for the bush beans especially if you live in a windy area. You may need to use stakes to prop the plants that are at the end of the row or in corners. In 2 weeks time you will be able to harvest the beans. Make sure that the cultivars are planted in rows. Maintain 2 feet between each row and keep the cultivars 4 inches apart.
Pole beans take about 10 to 11 weeks to mature and are more averse to cold than bush beans. Since they grow into vines it is necessary to give them support with stakes or a trellis. You can expect to harvest about 50 quarts of beans when you plant them in rows up to 100 feet. Pole beans grow more abundantly than bush beans. They should be planted 4 feet apart in single rows. If you plan on double rows then they can be sowed a foot apart. A trellis should be provided for providing vertical support to the plants. The first signs of germination are in 14 days.
Enjoy the Harvest
Harvest the green beans before bumps are found inside the seeds. It is a good practice to harvest the seeds every day as this encourages production of more beans. Use your fingers to gently pinch the beans rather than yank the pods directly. Discard beans that are mature and use a pair of scissors when removing runner or pole beans.
Fresh beans can be stored in the fridge for a week. If you have a bumper harvest you can dry the pods on the plant till they turn very hard. Store them in airtight containers and you can enjoy them for a whole year.