Learn how to grow green beans which will be a welcome food on the table through summer as well as fixing much needed nitrogen in the soil for your next vegetable planting.
This picture on the left was taken in December 2011 when our beans were in full swing. We were harvesting a full colander of beans every evening from only 12 plants. If I had known they were going to do so well, I would have planted many more plants that season.
How to grow green beans – planting
There are two types of green beans that you can plant – runner beans or bush beans. We have had more success with runner beans and as they grow vertically, they take up less space. For bush beans you will sow directly into well prepared soil in full sun. Space the seeds in rows about 7cm apart with about 40 cm between the rows.
For runner beans, plant the seeds 10 cm apart with rows 10cm apart. When the beans shoot place three bamboo poles or branches you have trimmed in your garden like a teepee around a clup of shoots. Tie the tops of the three poles together. This is the structure that your beans will climb up.
Beans have a shallow root system and need to be watered regularly in the morning.
Beans make the most beautiful flowers and soon after flowering the beans will begin to develop. 7 – 10 weeks after planting you should be able to get your first harvest of beans to eat. Simply use a pair of scissors to snip the beans off on the stalk.
Harvesting green beans
Long term care
Once the beans have reached the top of their support, pinch back the growing tips which encourages flowerering. Do not allow the pods to remain on the plant for too long as big bean pods weaken the plant. When all the beans are spent, be sure to remove the whole plant and add to yourcompost heap. As beans, like all legumes, fix nitrogen in the soil, you can plan to plant a demanding plant like sweet corn in this bed after the beans are done.
When to plant: Sow seeds directly in spring to late summer.
How many plants: Bush beans – 20 plants. Runner beans 16 plants in a square for teepee support or in one long row for trellis support.
How long to harvest: 7 – 10 weeks after sowing.
Successive planting: 3 – 4 weeks.
GREEN BEAN RECIPE
Wash, top and tail your beans. Place in a non stick pan with a blob of butter and allow to sweat with a lid on at a low temperature. When the beans are cooked but still crunchy squeeze some lemon juice over them and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Yum!