Have you ever eaten a fresh green bean straight from the garden? Absolutely delicious and crunchy! Read on for some great tips for growing beans.
Beans are a part of the Legume family and there is a huge range out there for the gardener and home cook to choose from, with endless possibilities on how you prepare and eat them.
Just going through the list of beans would be very time-consuming when you think of broad beans, runner beans, climbing beans, dwarf beans, dried beans, mung beans, soya beans, lima beans, kidney beans, the list just goes on and on. For the purposes of this article, I’ll just stick to the common garden beans that we all know and love.
Even the common fresh bean comes in several forms. We have a choice of climbing beans and dwarf or bush beans, long beans and shorter beans, string beans, and stringless beans. The humble bean also comes in a range of colours. There are green beans, yellow beans, purple beans, red beans, and speckled beans that come to mind.
There are fundamental differences between climbing beans and dwarf beans which I'll try to explain here without all of the technical jargon.
Climbing beans – as the name would imply - love to climb so you will need support very early on in the growing season. Whether that is a fence, a trellis of some sort, or grow them over an arbour for shade, the options are endless as long as they can climb. Climbing beans produce for an extended period lasting up to a couple of months if the conditions are right for them. These beans are also suitable for both garden beds and container growing.
Bush beans are a short bush only growing to around 40 to 60cm tall. They prefer the warmer months of the year and have no frost tolerance at all. They produce their crop of edible beans over a short period that only lasts a couple of weeks. These beans are suitable for both garden beds and containers.
All of the garden variety beans have similar requirements except for broad beans which require cold weather to grow. Garden beans require warmth, plenty of sunlight, and well-drained soil. Beans love a slightly acidic soil with a Ph of 6.5-7.0 as well as plenty of potassium to thrive. Beans have moderate water need but dislike wet soggy soil.
Beans don’t really like cold weather at all as this will affect their germination, giving poor germination and stunted seedlings.
Once you have chosen what bean seeds you would like to plant, the rules are similar whether you are going to plant in the garden or a container. Yes, beans grow just as well in a large container as they do in the garden. Plant the bean seeds about 3 times the depth as the thickness of your seed, it doesn’t matter if you plant a little deeper as beans are a rapid and strong grower. Water once then lay off watering for a few days because if the soil gets too wet you risk the seed rotting before they emerge from the soil.
Once the seeds have germinated and you are planting climbing beans you need to have their trellis in place ready to go, otherwise they will take over the garden very quickly, latching on and climbing up whatever they can.
Once the beans are up and growing, they don’t need much looking after at all, tuck the odd branch in that has decided to go its own way, water when needed, and trim the bottom leaves off to keep them off the ground.
Beans are nitrogen fixers so the need to fertilise is a personal choice. If you do fertilise, pick one that is low in nitrogen, or you will end up with a monster plant and not many bean pods.
When the pods are developing, pick daily or every second day when the beans are of a good size, this encourages the beans to keep flowering and you will get a much more tender bean to eat. Snip the beans off rather than pull them off otherwise you risk damaging the plant.