There is nothing better then picking home grown beans on a summer’s evening and enjoying the crisp texture and subtle flavor that only fresh beans have. They are an easy garden vegetable to grow.
Bean Varieties for Vegetable Gardens
There are three main types of summer garden beans
- Runner Beans – These beans are one of the easiest to grow, one of the best known is the Scarlet Runner bean. They are perenials (will last several seasons). As they grow to about three meters high they require good solid staking using string, netting or canes.
- Dwarf French Beans – These are annual plants (last one season) and are useful for small garden plots and container gardening as they don’t take up much room. They have a compact, bushy growth and need little or no staking. Several plants are needed for a good crop.
- Climbing French Beans – An annual plant growing to about two meters high, therefore requiring staking. There are many varieties including heirloom beans.
When to Plant Summer Garden Beans.
● Plant in late spring or early summer when the soil has warmed up. Beans do not like frost or cold soil.
● If growing garden seeds they can be sown in peat pots indoors in early spring, keep the soil moist but not soaking. When the plants are about 15 cm high they are ready to plant out. Planting in peat pots means the whole pot can be planted in the soil so there is less root disturbance. Peat pots are biodegradable.
Preparing Garden Soil for Planting Beans and Planting out.
● Prepare the garden by digging the ground over and adding well rotted compost or manure to make a friable soil.
● Choose a garden plot that gets sun for most of the day.
● Prepare supports for climbing and runner beans. These can be made from stakes and string or ready made supports can be bought. A wigwam of stakes takes up less space then a line of stakes if space is limited.
● Plant the beans, allowing room to grow, usually about 20cm apart but follow instructions given with purchased bean plants and seeds.
● Water the young beans.
Ongoing Care of Bean Plants in Vegetable Gardens
● Check that climbing and runner beans are growing up the supports and tie in place, if needed, to direct them the right way.
● Water beans regularly.
● Remove pests. A natural method , for the organic garden, is to put soapy water in a spray bottle and spray the plant with this.
● Pick the ripened beans regularly to encourage further bean production.
Harvesting Beans in the Summer Garden
● Beans are ready to harvest when the pods have attained their maximum length but before the beans have begun to bulge in the pods. The length will vary according to the variety planted.
● The beans will not all ripen together so a continuing crop is the bonus.
Gardening Tips for Beans
● Bean roots are a rich source of nitrogen. At the end of the season cut back the stems but leave the roots in the soil to release the useful nitrogen.
● Save some beans to dry out and use as seeds for the following year. Place them in packets in a dry dark place and label the packet.
Knowing about varieties of beans, their need for warm, fertile soil and regular water give the home gardener the advantage of fresh produce straight from the garden. Using home made compost and natural sprays helps the environment and saves money as well.