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Stagger your bean plantings for a continual harvest all summer. In fact, it’s possible to get high yields and keep them coming till frost. And there are so many wonderful varieties of green beans to try. Here are some of my favorites.
Whether you prefer bush varieties or pole beans, they will mature in 50 to 65 days from seeding and keep you supplied with a delicious and nutritious vegetable that is one of the simple joys of summer.
No trips to the store for limp green beans that have lost their snap!
Stagger Green Bean Planting
Instead of planting all your beans at the same time it is best to stagger the planting so you won't be overwhelmed with a deluge of beans coming in all at once. I plant my bush beans at 2 to 3 week intervals starting in late May to have a continuous harvest to sell at farmers' market.
Save enough space in the garden for several rows of bean plants. Usually, your first batch of beans will be ready for harvest 45 to 60 days after planting, depending on the variety.
Remove bush bean plants after the first group has borne beans. The plants produce only one set of beans and then die. Sow a new group of bean seeds in the area where you just removed the spent bush beans plants. Harvest and replant the second group of bean plants about two weeks after picking the first. Harvest and replant the third group of bean plants about two weeks after picking the second. Harvest the beans from the second set of plantings, which will again produce about two weeks apart from one another.
Also, after the garlic is pulled in late July, I usually plant one last crop of beans in an empty garlic bed to carry me until frost. If you're pulling crops, you could also plant at least one additional group of beans in late summer if you think you have another 45 to 60 days of frost-free weather. Floating row covers can extend the season as cold weather approaches.
Varieties of Green Beans
Can you tell I love beans? This versatile vegetable is easy to grow. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep, 3 to 4 inches apart, and stand back. They will leap out of the ground.
A Productive Pole Bean
One of my favorites is 'Rattlesnake' an heirloom pole bean. I used to plant it later in the summer to make use of the pea fence after the peas were done. Last year I could not wait that long so now I plant them in a row next to the black mesh deer fence that runs along the perimeter of the garden. They quickly grow up and over the top of the 7 foot tall fencing. Unlike bush beans that produce well for 2 to 3 weeks and then slack off, the 'Rattlesnake' beans just keep on coming until a hard frost does them in. Even when I let them stay on the vine too long and they get overly large, they are still tender and not too 'beany' tasting.
Other pole varieties that have wide flat pods like 'Rattlesnake' include meaty 'Romano', 'Northeaster', and yellow 'Golden Gate'. For those that prefer round podded pole beans try 'Fortex'.
Pole Bean Teepee Support
If you don't have a fence to grow them on use the teepee method. Tie 3 or 4 (or more) 7 foot long bamboo poles together at the top and splay the legs in a circle. Plant 3 to 4 seeds around the leg of each pole and train the vines to wind up the poles. For extra stability you can wrap string or wire around the poles about halfway up, encircling the teepee and tying the poles together.
My favorite bush beans are the slender French filet types called haricots verts. A gourmet treat that you would pay a lot for at a fancy restaurant, they are extremely tender and flavorful. I don't even snap them, just briefly cook them whole and toss with garlic and olive oil. They are especially good served cold. I'm growing 'Maxibel' and 'Calima' right now for green filet beans and 'Concador' for yellow. There is even a purple filet bean called 'Velour'.
ROUND Podded Bush Bean
For a round podded bush bean try 'Provider'. It is an oldy but goody from 1965 that adapts well to a wide range of growing conditions. It is great for canning, freezing, or pickling. Bring on the dilly beans!
Yellow or wax beans are also a favorite. I love their buttery flavor. Since 'Concodor' did not germinate well this year, we are trying 'Eureka' as a substitute. Did you know that white bean seeds don't germinate as well as dark seeds do? We have had better luck with the French heirloom 'Beurre de Rocquencourt' (sometimes called 'Golden Rocky'). It has black seeds and can take cool wet conditions.
Speaking of wet conditions, never pick your beans or even touch the leaves when they are wet to avoid spreading any fungal diseases.
One last bean that needs mentioning is the soybean. We grow some every year for edamame. Last year they did not germinate well either so we replanted several times giving us some late ones that I let dry on the plant. This year I ran out of seed and used the dried ones from last year to fill out the row.
The saved seeds have germinated much better than the purchased seed. Another lesson learned the hard way! I'll be saving soybean seeds from now on.
If anyone dares to say that you don't know beans you can tell them that now you certainly do!