Saturday, July 22, 2017

Growing beans

Beans on trellis in background
Saturday July 22, 2017

Beans have been cultivated for thousands of years all around the world.  Fave type beans hail from the Old World while the types used for dry and green beans are from the New World.  Pole beans were part of the Three Sisters of Native Americans along with squash and corn.  Not only do they taste great, but they add nitrogen to the soil and are easy to "put away" for winter eating.  

Beans love sun, well drained soil, and a side dressing of fertilizer or compost when planted.  Don't get carried away with fertilizer during the growing season or you will have all greenery and no pods.  Be sure to not water the foliage; stick with watering at the ground to avoid fusarium wilt.

Beans are part of the legumes which include fava beans, shell beans (like the popular red, kidney, Great Northern beans), green beans, lima beans, peanuts, lentils, and soybeans.  Legumes have some of the highest protein in the plant world.  When combined with grains, you get a complete protein like you do from meat or eggs.  Raw bean nutritional info

When you plant beans, be sure to use a rhizobial bacteria inoculant.  You just moisten the seed and coat with the rhizobial powder and plant.  Nitrogen accumulates on the roots of the legume.  Just be sure to not pull the plant when you are done harvesting from it so that the nitrogen stays in the soil!

Beans are summer crops and there are many bush and pole varieties.  Bush varieties come into bear just before pole types and usually have one major flush of beans.  Pole beans produce continuously all summer to frost.  Both require soil temps of at least 60 degrees F.  Plant 1” deep and as close as 4” apart for pole types and 12” apart for bush types.  Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days.
Trellis completely covered in pole beans
The vining types typically grow to 8 foot long so a trellis is needed.  If you don't have a trellis that tall, just snip the vine when it gets to the top of the trellis or just let them fall over.  They will do just fine that way, just makes it a treasure hunt to find the beans!  I think the most efficient trellis design is one that you can tilt over.  Then the weight of the beans will cause them to hang down, making them a breeze to pick.  If you have the room for this design (you can use one that you can lean against a building), just be sure that it is situated so the vine greenery gets maximum sun.

I grow ours on a 5 foot trellis.  This year I just let them go and the vines are probably at least 10 feet long. they have grown up and then fallen over and are down to the ground and snaking out to find other stalks to vine onto.  They are very happy this year!

Beans can also be grown in either pots or in the ground.  Since beans are growing during the hotter time of year, watering is important to keep them productive.  Just be sure to not water the foliage.  Beans can produce over a long period of time.  To keep them making beans, be sure to harvest frequently.

Runner bean pods are edible and produce beautiful flowers in red, white or peach.  They are also a perennial in warmer parts of the country.  If you harvest just when the bean seeds begin to swell, you can eat as snap beans.  If you wait, you can dry and eat the bean seeds like any dried bean.

I prefer to grow the “stringless” types so I don’t have to remove the string when I put them up.  Most varieties grown today are stringless if harvested on time.  I freeze my beans since I don’t have enough space to have a huge number of plants.  By freezing, I can harvest every other day and just add the new ones to the freezer bag.  Freezing the extras for winter  If you decide you want to can beans, you'll need a pressure canner as green beans are low acid veggies.  You can pickle beans with just a big pot.  Easy, low tox canning of summer's bounty If you are growing storage beans, just be sure they have dried thoroughly before storing in something like a Mason jar so they don't mold.
Purple podded bean
You get the most beans from those that you eat the whole bean versus shelling type beans.  So, if space is limited, "green bean" types are the best.  I am trying Lima beans and storage beans this year, too.  Both have been flowering, but I have gotten no Lima beans and only a few storage bean pods.  The green bean plants are pumping out the beans!

I like the Romano type beans, the ones that are large and flat.  I also grow the runner beans for their flowers and harvest early for snap beans. The varieties I am growing are vine types-Romano II, Scarlet Runner, Golden Sunshine Runner, Purple Podded and Bean Blauhilde and storage beans-Portal Jade, Good Mother Stollard and King of the Garden lima beans. 

All my vining bean plants look beautiful this year.  I have just now starting watering the garden.  The rule of thumb I use for gardening is that the garden should get a deep watering once a week.  If we haven't gotten a nice drenching rain in more than a week, then I water.  We have a drip hose that runs throughout the garden bed that is covered by mulch.  This keeps the moisture going into the ground instead of evaporating.  Summer garden tips

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