growing beans

Beans have been the butt of many jokes over the years (no pun intended in this instance). Despite that they continue to be a very prominent ingredient in many popular savory dishes. Many of these dishes feature beans as the main ingredient and not a supportive additive. For vegetarians, they are the best source to replenish their daily protein requirement and for everyone else, they provide a boost of energy whenever it is needed.

The term bean was originally used to describe the seed of the Fava beans but later expanded to include the seeds of all large plants. Beans are especially beneficial for the elderly. The human body needs lesser calorie intake as it gets older. Yet, the nutritional requirement remains the same. A healthy diet comprising of beans accomplishes the task of providing all the required nutrients without the added calories. That is also the reason why beans can help people to lose weight quickly without any negative side effects. In most varieties of beans you would find Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Iutein, Zinc, Folic Acid, Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, B6, B3 Vitamin C, and the rare Vitamin K. A bean based diet is beneficial for pregnant women and the unborn babies because it isconsidered whole rounded. Beans also regulate digestion, prevent heart diseases, prevent cancer, improve vision, prevent diabetes, help to increase muscle mass and maintain the overall health. Along with peas, beans are called a novice grower’s best friend. This is because the low maintenance and care required by the beans make it possible for you to produce a very good crop even if it’s your first time planting something in the garden.

1.    Varieties

Most people give up the idea of growing beans once they come across the list of bean varieties. That is because there are literally hundreds of bean varieties out there and you can grow almost half of them at home. To make this matter a little easier for you, here is a list of the common varieties of beans for home gardens.

  • Bush Beans:Also called “Snap Bush Bean”, this variety of beans has been popular with bean cultivators since the process of bean cultivation began. The bush variety is known for its smooth texture and rich flavors. Some of the most popular bush beans are Roman Bush, Tender Crop, Top Crop, Provider Harvester, Green Bush, and Blue Lake.
  • Snap Pole Beans: If you are hoping for a large crop, then you might want to try the Snap Pole Beans. Most of the beans in this variety are either described as having a nutty or earthy flavor. Some beans in this variety can be small and flattened while others can be meaty. Some of the most popular snap pole beans are Emirite, Romano, Scarlet Runner, Kentucky Wonder, Kwintus, Kentucky Blue and Fortex.
  • Bush Yellow Beans: This variety might take a week or so longer to grow than any other variety, but it promises to make up for the wait with its flavor. Some of the most popular bush yellow beans are the King of the Garden, Henderson’s Bush and Butter White.
  • Shell Beans: Most shell beans produce a very sweet pod, meaning that if you wish, you can eat the entire bean. Otherwise you have the option of shelling them first. A few rare types of shell beans have a very rigid and bitter pod. Some of the most popular shell beans are Black Turtle, French Horticulture, and Vermont Cranberry.

2.    The Best Time to Grow Beans

Think cool weathernot cold. No matter what type of beans you end up selecting, the best time to sow them would be in early spring. The first two weeks of spring can be an ideal time to plant them. Beans will not survive if the weather which is simply too cold or too warm. Frost is completely out of the question but you can wait a month or so after the frost subsides to start the planting process. If early spring is not possible for you then opt for early summer. Midsummer should be the latest time for you to plant the seeds.

3.    Soil

Sandy, Clay and Loam are the best soil types for the beans. You can also try to create your own combination of soil types to give the growing process a boost. The soil needs to be well drained out but still slightly moist. If the ground is hard and clumpy then take as much time as you can to loosen soil. Keep working on till you can crumble a handful of soil easily in your hand. If you have to use both hands then the loosening process needs more work.

4.    Preparing the Soil

The soil needs to be prepared with a mixture of aged compost and rich manure. As much as you can, avoid using the fertilizer. What is unique with vegetables like peas and beans is that during the growing process they can obtain nitrogen on their own. The added nitrogen from the fertilizer will give you really big plants but it will do nothing for the production of the pods, which is the main goal here.

5.    Seeds

You can buy the seeds for any variety of beans you choose to grow from the local market, the grocery store, the local nursery or from a local grower. But you have the option of choosing from an extremely wide variety of beans if you buy the seeds online. This way you can also ensure that the seeds are disease free and ready to plant. Before making the final purchase however, make sure that the seeds have been certified by an established organization.

6.    Planting the Seeds

You can grow multiple varieties of beans at the same time. But it is recommended that you start off with fifteen or less plants if you are a novice. More plants will require more maintenance. Without proper and equal attention, the plants will be riddled with pests and diseases. If you can’t get rid of the pests in time then you might end up losing the entire crop. In a straight row dig out gouges that are half inch deep. Drop just one seed inside and cover it lightly with the soil. Leave at least eight to ten inches of distance between each plant.

7.    Watering

You need to soak the plants from top to bottom at least once a week. More so if the weather gets hot. Beans thrive if the soil remains constantly moist, but if the soil completely dries out then the growth of the plants and the pods will be stunted. In case of rain, you should cease watering for a while.

8.    Support

Most twining plants like beans need the support of an external structure if they expand quickly and grow upwards. If you have chosen to sow only a few beans, then you can use your fence to twine the plant vines. If the plants are widely spaced then use a wooden tripod (placed on top of the plant) for the vines to twine. If you have chosen to plant a lot of varieties in a small space then you can build a larger supporting structure to help twine all the vines .

9.    Organic Pest Control

Seedcorn Maggots, Mexican Bean Beetle, Leafhoppers, Aphids and Spider mites can eat bean plant from within. They can decimate the plant and the pods in next to no time at all, not mention spread diseases like Chocolate spot, Pod spot, and Root rot. An organic pesticide can help you get rid of them easily.

You can also make a homemade pesticide. Boil 2 Tablespoons of dried out tomato leaves in 4 cups of water for 20 minutes. Strain the water and add 1 Tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap (make sure it’s without bleach) when the water cools down. Use a sprayer to coat the plants until all the pests are gone.

10.    Harvesting

All varieties of beans, take anywhere from seven to nine weeks to grow. By seven weeks you should be able to tell whether the pods are ready to be plucked or not. Most of the pods will look thick and healthy. They will also stand out. If that isn’t the case then don’t worry, they just need a week or so to flourish. The plants will keep on producing the pods till the frost hits. Until then the beans are ready to be consumed and enjoyed.