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13 Tips to Grow Green Beans

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Green beans should be a default crop in every gardener’s yard for their dietary nutritional value and soil benefits.

The Fabaceae family, to which the green bean belongs, has unique ability to partner with nitrogen-fixating bacteria and fungi to maximize nitrogen availability to current and future crops. Green beans are exceptionally easy to grow and even easy to hybridize.

Table of Contents

So, let’s explore how easy it is to grow green beans

1. Storing Green Bean Seeds

To ensure offspring’s health, only harvest seeds from robustly healthy plants free of drought or disease stress. During the growing season, identify plants you want to propagate. Selection can be based on production levels or plant resilience factors.

Bean pods are simple to harvest for their seeds. The secret to preserving bean seeds is to let the pods mature on the plant until they are dried out and turning brown. When the pod is shaken, the seeds become looser and can be heard rattling.

how to grow green beans
how to grow green beans

This process could go on for about a month after the typical food harvest. Bean seeds should only be harvested once the pods have completely dried on the plant. Take the pods off the plants, then spread them out for further drying for at least two weeks.

You can shell the beans or store the pods until the planting season. Store seeds in a glass jar or other container that is well sealed and moisture free.

Various bean varieties can be kept together as long as they are separated in paper packages and carefully marked to indicate the type and collection date. Your bean seeds should be kept dry and cool.

Seeds can be saved for up to five years.

2. Growing Greenbeans from Seed

Bean plants are annuals sexually propagated by planting seeds directly into their growing beds or containers (in situ). This cheap approach ensures a recurring annual crop of soil-boosting, nutritious beans.

Bean plants don’t like being transplanted and are typically sown in situ in garden beds or containers. Their root structure is relatively shallow, encouraged by their symbiotic relationship with rhizobia bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi.

Plant beans in biodegradable pots that can be replanted in the garden as the weather warms up if you wish to start them indoors.

Plant seeds starting in April or May or whenever you feel the soil is warm enough with little possibility of a night frost. You can sow till the middle of the summer as it takes roughly 70 to 90 days from seed planting to harvesting.

Seeds germinate when soil temperatures reach 70 to 80 ⁰F (~21 – 27⁰C). Germination is slow and poor when soil temperatures are below 60 ⁰F (<16 ⁰C). Plants will emerge 8 to 10 days after sowing at appropriate soil temperatures but may take two weeks or more if soil temperatures are below 60⁰F (15.5⁰C).

3. Green Bean Soil Needs

Like all vegetable plants, beans like soil with the following characteristics:

  • Plant anchorage – ensuring the media isn’t so light that the plant cannot remain reasonably erect in winds
  • Moisture management – a balance between drainage and moisture retention
  • Air Management – avoidance of anaerobic conditions
  • Nutrient management – an ability to store and release essential plant nutrients
  • Biodiversity – a hospitable environment for soil microorganisms
  • Acidic or alkaline (pH) profiles are suitable for the specific crop.

Of all these factors, if I had to pick one that supports the others, I recommend composting your garden bed at least two months before planting.

Compost additions are the most effective way of introducing soil-health-boosting microorganisms into your garden. The added organic matter also boosts cation-exchange capacities and, thus, the soil’s ability to retain plant nutrients and moisture.

Green Bean Potting Soil

A little common sense goes a long way when selecting which soil mixture is ideal for your pots. The mix should ensure roots and organisms can breathe underground, water drains well, but at least 25% is retained.

An ideal mix is 30% inert aggregates, 40% organic matter, and 30% coconut coir. Other variations are acceptable but test the water retention ability (Field Capacity) and saturation porosity of any mix used.

  • Saturation Porosity is the air content remaining in the soil after saturation and drainage.
  • Field Capacity is water content remaining after saturation and drainage

More organic material, which holds more water, may be required if the plant prefers a damp soil mixture. More aggregate might be advised if the plant favors dry soil (succulents). Green beans need a balance between the two.

Examine the growing environment in your backyard. If your pot’s location is often shaded, you may experience issues with soggy pots. In this situation, adding extra aggregate to your soil mix can be good so that it dries out faster.

However, suppose your yard receives a lot of sunlight. In that case, you might want to add extra organic materials so the soil can hold more moisture. Balancing these elements will provide an ideal environment for any plant.

Including compost in soil mixes is essential as it allows plants to develop resilience to pest attacks and diseases. Compost also increases the nutritional value of plants.

4. Green Bean Soil Benefits

Rhizobia bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi have a symbiotic relationship with the roots of legume plants (the Fabaceae family). Both these microorganisms can fix nitrogen from the air into the soil.

The plant meets these microorganisms’ carbon and sugar needs in exchange for nitrogen and easy access to water and other nutrients. It’s a perfect trade developed over millennia.

These microorganisms even work for forest trees, availing themselves to transport nutrients to smaller offspring trees of giant anchor trees. Nature is spectacular!

Beans are part of the clover family and have Trifolium complex leaves like clover. Clover is a popular cover crop for its nitrogen fixation relationships. These crops are cheap to grow and leave a nutritional legacy of several years in garden beds.

5. Green Bean Sun Needs

Green beans are a warm-season crop requiring more than six hours of direct sun daily. If the crop has less sun, the yield will suffer.

Green beans have a medium requirement for nutrients supplied by organic matter or fertilizers. Excess nitrogen will delay flowering.

6. Green Bean Watering Needs

Consistent cycles of deep watering followed by allowing roots to dry out are the best watering practice for outdoor gardens and containers. This method also applies to indoor plants.

Keep the root zone moist by watering deeply and regularly during dry periods. Water more frequently when pods begin to develop.

7. Green Beans Choices

Below is a table reflecting the details of the two main varieties: Bush Green Beans and Pole (or vining) green beans.

Bean TypeGreen Bean CharacteristicsDays to MaturityBean Plant Spacing
Snap beansBecause of their early maturity and bush growth pattern, bush beans, also known as snap beans, are very common. Standard green and purple-pod kinds are among the varieties. There are wide varieties, including French filet and flat-pod Romano, which come in bush and pole varieties.50 – 60 days2 – 4″ in-row 24 – 30″ between rows
Pole beansPole beans yield more over a more extended period in a smaller area than bush kinds. Although pole beans are natural climbers, they won’t intertwine with horizontal wires. Tripods are just one of the vast varieties of DIY trellises that are effective as long as they offer the necessary support. Frames should be between 6 and 8 feet tall and well-built to endure summer storms.60 – 110 days4 – 8″ in-row 24 – 36″ between rows  

8. Growing Green Beans in Containers

From the date of the last frost until mid- to late-July, sow snap beans every two to three weeks for a continuous crop. To keep plants producing abundantly, pick snap beans frequently. Add 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil or compost over the seed. Keep the soil moist but not soggy until the seedlings appear. If birds eat germination-stage seeds and seedlings, cover newly planted seeds with row covers.

9. Growing Green Beans in Raised-beds

Because of their early maturity and bush growth pattern, bush beans, also known as snap beans, are very common. Standard green and purple-pod kinds are among the varieties. Several varieties, including French filet and flat-pod Romano, come in bush and pole varieties.

Planting should wait until the risk of a frost has passed and the soil has warmed. When the soil temperature falls below 60 F, germination is poor. Even above-freezing air temperatures can harm plants and lower harvests.

Plant seeds in rows 18 to 36 inches apart, one inch apart, and one inch deep (deeper if the soil is dry).

It’s untrue that soaking seeds speeds up green bean germination, soak beans first. Start seeds outside or in decomposable pots to enable direct planting without transplanting.

Plant beans in successive rows at different times up to mid- to late-July for a consistent supply.

Relay-crop beans should be planted after being harvested from cool-season crops like lettuce, spinach, and peas.

One inch of consistent moisture per week is needed for beans, especially when flowering and forming pods. Avoid soaking foliage when you water to prevent the spread of illness. Water in the morning so that the foliage dries fast. Mulch to help maintain moisture once the second set of genuine leaves emerges.

Don’t use fertilizers with nitrogen. Rhizobium bacteria can be added to seeds to boost yields, especially in soils where beans have never been cultivated.

The pod set is frequently subpar when temperatures rise above 90 ⁰F (32 ⁰C). Lack of moisture, low soil fertility, or insect damage during blooming can all lead to deformed pods.

Some diseases can be lowered with a three-year rotation cycle.                               

10. Green Bean Health Benefits

Green beans are high in folate, essential for pregnant moms and unborn babies, and help the risks of specific congenital disabilities.

Green beans are high in Vitamin K, essential for maintaining strong bones and reducing your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

Green beans are high in folate, a vitamin essential for reducing depression. Folate decreases the amount of homocysteine in the blood. Excessive homocysteine can interfere with the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, all of which regulate your mood, sleep, and appetite.

Green beans have a decent amount of plant-based iron, which can help avoid iron deficiency, a common precursor to fatigue, light-headedness, and weakness.

11. Potential Green Bean Pests

Aphids – Aphids on plants can be eliminated with a strong stream of water. Early in the day, wash off with water as necessary. Look for signs of natural enemies like swollen or gray-brown parasitized aphids and alligator-like lady beetle and lacewing larvae.

Mexican bean beetles – Manually remove and eliminate bugs and their eggs in small crops. To avoid this pest, sow early, and after harvesting, bury any infected plants.

Leafhoppers – Small, light green to gray wedge-shaped insects suck plant juices, causing stunting and spreading virus diseases. No cultural control is available.

Two-spotted spider mites – Use a similar regime to the one used to manage aphids.

Seedcorn maggot – Avoid excessive manure applications as it attracts maggot flies and encourages egg-laying. Instead, use a well-cured compost in which any added manure is fully decomposed. If you have a recurring problem, try insecticide-treated seed and use gloves to plant.

12. Potential Green Bean Diseases

Excessively wet foliage is often the cause of most disease infections. Reduce disease spread by not working with wet plants and targeting watering below foliage levels.

Bacterial blights – Avoid wetting foliage if possible. Water early in the day so aboveground plant parts will dry as quickly as possible. Avoid crowding plants. Space apart to allow air circulation. Eliminate weeds around plants and garden areas to improve air circulation. Do not save your own seed.

Bean common mosaic virus (BV-1 and NY 15) – Remove and discard or destroy the entire infested plant. Use resistant varieties.

White mold – Avoid wetting foliage if possible, watering early in the day to allow foliage to dry. Avoid plant crowding, allowing sufficient space for air circulation.

Eliminate weeds around plants and garden areas to further improve air circulation. In autumn, rake and dispose of all fallen or diseased leaves and fruit.

Subsequent bean plantings should be in different beds, only returning to a bed where beans have grown three years later.

13. How to Harvest Green Beans

Harvest snap beans for fresh consumption when seeds are only a quarter of their mature size. Overgrown pods will be fibrous and are indicated by distinct bulges as the seeds grow. Pods should be tender and break easily with a snap when ready.

Green shelling beans (Lima beans), seeds will be full size, and pods will be bright green. The end of the pod will be spongy. 

For dry beans (of all types), pods should remain on the bush until dry and brown. Keep maturing beans picked to prolong the life of the vines.

Store snap beans In a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week. Beans freeze well. Alternatively, clean the beans, trim their ends, snap beans, and blanch for one minute in boiling water.

To prevent overcooking, plunge blanched green beans into ice water for a minute. Drain the blanched green beans thoroughly, even patting them dry before freezing.

In Closing

Green beans are wonderful plants and ideal for growing in different formats. There are hundreds of hybrids to choose from that provide diverse characteristics and resilience traits. Knowing their preferences, quirks, and uniqueness allows you to better care for them.

Their unique nutritional profile offers pregnant moms some of the essential nutrients. For the garden, their relationship with microorganisms leaves ample nitrogen in the soil for subsequent crops.

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