If you’re looking to make use of your green thumb, green beans are an uncomplicated, stress-free way to get some extra food into your home. They not only give you some healthy snacks, but they’re also a perfect hobby if you want something that doesn’t take too much time to manage.
If you’re interested in growing green beans, then it’s best to start at the beginning.
Preparing your Beans
There are two main types of green beans: pole and bush beans. Bush beans are easier to grow because they spread out vertically, while pole beans are slightly more challenging and spread out horizontally. That means that bush beans generally need more width. Pole beans mature faster but need some kind of trellis to climb. Both are similar, but they grow at different rates and with different amounts of space.
Either way, you’ll need to pick the ideal spot in your garden to plant them. Green beans require a lot of sunlight, so you’ll ideally want a space that gets a lot of direct light on most days. Keep in mind that shaded locations can not only block sunlight but also stay moist for longer, which can also be harmful to the beans.
Your soil should be loamy and crumbly. If you can, add a 10-20-10 fertilizer to the soil ahead of time. If you don’t want to put the beans in the ground directly, a container will also work. However, keep in mind that you’ll need one with a 6-inch diameter at least to ensure that the green beans have space to grow. This will vary depending on the space you have available and the amount you’re growing, but try to keep the beans as far away from one another as possible.
Planting the Beans
Now that you’re prepared to grow green beans, you need to plant the seeds. The temperature is vital; wait for it to hit around 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Centigrade) or warmer. If you know the temperature will drop soon, hold off on planting the beans because this can cause slow growth. Remember that pole beans need a trellis – or something similar – to spread properly, but you can have a lot of freedom in how this is done.
Plant each seed 1 or 2 inches into the ground, and keep them at least 3 inches apart. The sandier your soil is, the deeper the beans should go. If you want to plant multiple rows in the same area, plant them over one foot apart, just in case. Be careful you don’t immediately soak them with water – this can break the seeds and leave them unusable.
You can be a bit more lenient when it comes to containers. Place the seeds 1 inch deep and around 2 inches apart – or 4-6 inches for pole bean seeds. It’s best to start the growth outdoors and move them inside later once they’re beginning to mature.
Mulch can help, too, if you have some. The last thing you want to do is smother the plants entirely, so avoid using too much mulch.
Caring for your Beans
If you’re hoping for a continual harvest, try to sow additional seeds every two weeks – but don’t neglect your currently-growing beans! Stop planting them about ten weeks before frost is expected – they’ll struggle to grow as winter hits.
Be sure to water your bean plants daily, but skip days when it rains. On sunny days, watering is extremely important. However, try to avoid watering directly so that the foliage itself isn’t soaked. Watering your beans in the middle of the day can also cause the water to evaporate, so early-morning watering is often the best option. The same routine should apply to containers.
Be careful with fertilizer. Growing green beans works best with soil that isn’t stuffed full of nutrients, so only apply fertilizer if you know that the soil is already lacking. The beans prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.5, so fertilizers are best used to correct a pH that is too high or too low. Sandy soil can also benefit the beans because there won’t be as many nutrients available. Be sure to check for weeds, pests, and diseases, too; weeds can easily smother the beans before they have a chance to grow.
Harvesting and Storing Beans
It’s best to pick the beans just before they become mature – when they’re firm and green but not entirely mature yet. They’ll often grow to the size of a small pencil or a little straw. This usually happens between 50 and 60 days from planting them. Don’t let them fully develop, or the inner seeds will become hard, and they’ll be too mature to use.
If you’re growing them in a container, you can usually tell that they’re ready to harvest because the pods will be bulging. The easiest way to harvest them is to pull or cut them from the plant, then wash them as soon as possible. Ideally, you should break the string and pull them into pieces, but not everybody has the time to do that straight away.
Once they’re harvested, you should place the beans in a refrigerator to store, preferably inside an airtight container. You can freeze the beans (or place them in a sealed can) for longer storage. This will usually only last for about three to six months total. Because of this, you should make sure you use them relatively soon and store them as effectively if you can.