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Growing Beans in the Home Garden

The National Garden Bureau has declared 2021 the Year of the Garden Bean. They share the following tips for choosing, growing and harvesting beans:

'Custard' is a bush bean that produces pale yellow snap beans.

'Custard' is a bush bean that produces pale yellow snap beans.

Types of Garden Beans

Bean plants come in two habits: bush or pole. 

A compact bush bean like this variety, 'Mascotte', lends itself to container culture.

A compact bush bean like this variety, 'Mascotte', lends itself to container culture.

Bush beans remain compact and shrubby, making them good candidates for raised beds, small gardens or even large pots. They may need a simple support such as a cage to grow through. Most bush beans can produce a harvest that lasts three weeks.

Pole beans, also called runner beans, are vining plants that require a sturdy structure such as a trellis, netting or teepee. The harvest season for pole beans can last six to eight weeks. 

A pole bean like this variety, 'Seychelles', needs a trellis or other support to climb.

A pole bean like this variety, 'Seychelles', needs a trellis or other support to climb.

Bush beans and pole beans are further broken down by type. Both growth habits have varieties of filet beans (or haricots vert), which have very thin pods; green beans, or snap beans, which have thicker pods; and dried, or shelling, beans, which are grown for the seeds inside the pods. 

Snap beans come in a range of colors, from green to yellow to purple. Yellow snap beans are often called wax beans. Yellow and green types keep their color as they're cooked, but purple pods will turn green.

Growing Beans at Home

Plant beans after soil temperatures reach 70˚F. Direct sow seeds because beans do not typically transplant well.

Plant them in full sun and moderately fertile soil with good drainage.

Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the season.

Mulch around bean plants to preserve soil moisture and prevent weeds. Beans have shallow roots so it's key to use mulch and avoid the need to weed near the plants and possibly damage the root system.

Sow a fresh crop of bush beans every two to three weeks for an extended harvest period from that type. Since the pole-bean harvest is naturally long, succession planting isn't necessary.

Pick snap beans just before the seeds inside the pods begin to swell. But if the bean doesn't snap when you bend and break it, it's not yet ready.

Store unwashed beans for up to a week in the refrigerator.

The information and images in this post are shared by the National Garden Bureau. For more about garden beans, see the NGB article "Year of the Garden Bean."