Growing snap beans in the home garden

Published: Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 09:12 AM.

Snap beans, green beans, or string beans no matter which name you prefer, they are one and the same in season!  Green snap beans are categorized into two different groups, bush or pole beans, based on growth characteristics.  If the bean plant needs support to grow, they are classified as pole beans; if the beans can grow on their own without added support; they are classified as bush beans.  Spring and fall crops can be planted but the spring crop generally yields larger quantities.

The bush or pole varieties can easily be grown in our area.  The bush type is popular because of its early maturity.  Most bush snap bean varieties are ready to harvest about 50 to 60 days after planting.

Pole-type snap bean requires some support on which to grow.  They also require a few more days to mature but continue to bear longer than the bush varieties.  They usually require about 60 to 75 days from seed to harvest.  Green beans reach their best stage of edible maturity when the seed within the pod is about one-third mature.

Beans will not withstand frost.  Therefore, make the first planting after the danger of the last killing frost in early spring.  Beans planted in cold soils are more susceptible to seedling diseases.  You can make successive planting of bush snap beans at 2 to 3 week intervals.  Cease plantings when the beans are forced to mature under high temperatures, which cause poor quality.  Sow seeds about a one inch deep and two-three inches apart in the row.  Bush varieties can be grown in rows 24 to 30 inches apart.  Pole varieties need three feet between rows, or plant a double row six inches apart on either side of trellis.

Both bush and pole beans can be grown in a variety of soils, but good drainage is essential.  Beans prefer a slightly acid soil pH 5.8 to 6.5.

Fertilizer application rates are best determined using the results of a soil test.  Contact your local County Extension Office for information on soil testing.  Fertilizer may either be broadcast and worked into the soil before planting time or banded two inches to the side and two inches below the seed at the time of planting.  A later side dressing, at pod set if the plant appears yellowish or is not growing well.

Weed control is essential especially in the first six weeks after planting.  Shallow cultivation and hand-pulling are the preferred methods.  The soil should be kept evenly moist.  Overhead watering should be done early in the day to reduce the incidence of leaf diseases that occur when the leaves remain wet overnight.  An organic mulch about two inches deep will conserve soil moisture and reduce weed problems.

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