Planting, Growing, Harvesting, and Storing Bush Beans
Bush beans, also known as green beans or snap beans, are a popular, easy-to-grow vegetable for home gardeners. They are prized for their tender, crisp pods and require minimal space due to their compact growth habit. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the entire process of planting, growing, harvesting, and storing bush beans.
|Days to Grow
|Square Foot Garden Spacing
|9 plants per square foot
|Low to moderate
|When to Plant
|After the last frost date
|1-2 pounds per 10-foot row
|Hours of Light Needed
|6-8 hours of full sun daily
|Well-draining, pH 6.0-6.8, fertile
|Days to Maturity
|50-60 days depending on the variety
Choosing the Right Bush Bean Varieties
Before planting, choosing the suitable bush bean variety for your garden is essential. Some popular varieties include:
- Blue Lake: Known for their tender, flavorful beans and disease resistance.
- Contender: An early-maturing variety with excellent heat tolerance.
- Provider: A popular choice for its abundant harvest and resistance to common bean diseases.
- Roma II: A large, meaty bean known for its excellent taste and texture.
Consider your region’s climate, the size of your garden, and your taste preferences when selecting a variety.
Preparing the Soil for Bush Beans
To prepare your garden for bush beans, follow these steps:
- Choose a well-draining location with full sun exposure.
- Test the soil pH; bush beans prefer a slightly acidic pH of 6.0 to 6.8.
- Amend the soil with compost or aged manure for added nutrients.
- Loosen the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches for optimal root development.
Planting Bush Beans
Follow these guidelines when planting bush beans:
- Plant seeds directly into the garden after the last frost date.
- Space seeds 1-2 inches apart and 1-1.5 inches deep.
- Plant rows 18-24 inches apart for proper air circulation.
- Water the seeds lightly after planting to encourage germination.
Bush beans typically germinate within 7-14 days, depending on the variety and soil temperature.
Caring for Growing Bush Beans
To ensure a healthy and productive bush bean crop, follow these care tips:
- Watering: Provide 1-1.5 inches of water per week, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.
- Fertilizing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer at planting and again when the plants begin to flower.
- Weeding: Keep the area around your bush beans weed-free to reduce competition for nutrients and water.
- Pest Control: Monitor for pests such as aphids, bean beetles, and spider mites, and use organic or chemical controls as needed.
- Disease Prevention: Practice crop rotation and avoid overhead watering to reduce the risk of disease.
Harvesting Bush Beans
Bush beans are typically ready for harvest 50-60 days after planting. Follow these tips for a successful harvest:
- Pick beans when they’re young and tender before the seeds inside become too large.
- Harvest in the early morning, when the beans are crisp, and moisture levels are highest.
- Use two hands to pick the beans to avoid damaging the plant.
- Harvest frequently, as bush beans will continue to produce more beans throughout the growing season.
Storing Bush Beans
Bush beans can be stored in a variety of ways to enjoy throughout the year:
- Refrigeration: Store fresh beans in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Freezing: Blanch beans for 2-3 minutes, then plunge them into ice water to stop cooking. Drain, pat dry, and freeze in an airtight container for up to a year.
- Canning: Use a pressure canner to preserve beans for long-term storage.
- Drying: String and hang beans in a well-ventilated area to dry completely. Once dried, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Succession Planting for a Continuous Harvest
To enjoy bush beans throughout the growing season, consider succession planting. This technique involves planting a new crop of bush beans every 2-3 weeks until the end of the season. This staggered approach ensures a continuous harvest of fresh, tender beans.
Common Bush Bean Problems and Solutions
Growing bush beans may occasionally present challenges, but with proper care and attention, you can overcome these issues:
- Poor Germination: Ensure the soil is warm enough (at least 60°F) and not overly wet or compacted.
- Yellowing Leaves: This may indicate a nutrient deficiency, particularly nitrogen. Apply a balanced fertilizer to address the issue.
- Blossom Drop: High temperatures or insufficient pollination can cause a blossom drop. Ensure proper air circulation, and consider adding pollinator-friendly plants to your garden.
- Stunted Growth: Soil compaction, poor drainage, or pests may be responsible for stunted growth. Address these issues by loosening the soil, improving drainage, and implementing pest control measures.
Saving Seeds from Bush Beans for Future Plantings
Bush beans are self-pollinating, making them an excellent choice for seed saving. Follow these steps to save seeds for future plantings:
- Allow several bean pods to mature fully on the plant, becoming dry and brittle.
- Harvest the dried pods and remove the seeds.
- Spread the seeds out on a tray or screen to dry completely for 1-2 weeks.
- Store the dried seeds in a labelled, airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Following these steps, you can save your bush bean seeds for planting in the next growing season.
Bush beans are a versatile, easy-to-grow vegetable that can be enjoyed fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. Following the planting, growing, harvesting, and storing guidelines outlined in this article, you’ll enjoy a bountiful and delicious bush bean harvest. With proper care and attention, you can overcome common challenges and enjoy a continuous supply of beans throughout the season. Happy gardening!
Seeds and planting
Links and Resources
(These are some of what I use)
mybackyard.ca Seeds Page
Get a Head Start on Spring: The Benefits of Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Saving Vegetable Seeds: A Comprehensive Guide to Gardening Success
myBackyard.ca Planting Guide
Pollock Tomatoes (North hardy Tomato variety)
Tomatoes (Useful information on starting tomatoes from seed)
Individual seed and plant information is available in the "Gardening Shortcut Links" above under "North Hardy Plants to grow". I have successfully grown all of these, and most I grow year to year.