Test you soil to make sure it has the right pH. Lime will make it more alkaline--don't add any more unless the soil is more acidic than optimum. Beans like it slightly acidic to around neutral, depending on the type: around 6.0 to 7.5. Also make sure that your seeds are viable (new seed packets would be fine). Cold soil will slow germination, and some bean varieties will take longer than others to sprout. Lots of water or rain can rot the seeds. Also, when mulching before seeds sprout, you might want to provide only about a 1/4 inch layer (or avoid the actual spots where the seeds are planted); otherwise, the seeds may have trouble pushing through (when plants establish, you can provide a thicker layer), and the soil might be kept cooler than optimum for sprouting. Or, you could just avoid mulching until after the seeds have sprouted and become more hardy. For grass clippings, let them brown and dry before applying them to the vegetable bed, and avoid those clippings from lawns treated with pesticides.
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