Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How to Grow Organic Beans

This is an update from Growing Beans from Seed.  I have quite a few new things to add.  Have you ever grown your own beans?  It's EASY!

First, start with Heirloom, Non-GMO seeds.  Heirloom Seeds have been passed down from generation to generation.  You'll find heirloom seeds to be hardier and more pest-resistant than most "other" types of seeds. 
Royalty Purple Podded Bush Beans
I prefer to soak my beans for 3 hours before I plant.  
Don't soak them for too long or they'll just rot.
Soaking beans
For the sake of simplicity, I classify beans in 2 categories: Bush and Pole. 
Bush beans are usually compact and grow close to the ground. Pole beans climb and require a trellis or other support. Bush beans tend to produce more beans in a shorter time, while pole beans will produce more over an entire season. Pole beans typically require much less.
Two weeks before planting, work compost or fertilizer into a garden spot that receives full sun. Well after the fear of frost has passed, use a garden hose to lightly moisten the soil. Plant bean seeds directly into rich, fast draining soil in spring after the soil has warmed. For bush beans, form 1/2 inch-deep furrows and place beans every few inches. For pole beans, position the trellis or bean teepee before planting the seeds. Plant several seeds in each 1/2-inch furrow.  Cover all seeds with soil and water well.
Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans
Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.  Do not overwater or your "seeds" will rot. When seedlings sprout, carefully thin them to one plant every 6" to 8". Apply a generous layer of mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and prevent weed growth. Bean plants need about 1" of water per week. They should be watered in the morning so the foliage has time to dry before dark. Fertilize bean plants with an organic fertilizer every two weeks for the first six weeks, then once every three to four weeks. Keep an eye out for bean beetles, which are easily picked off by hand and terminated. 
The plants require full sun and regular water. In general, bush beans mature faster and are less sensitive to drought and extreme temperatures than pole beans. Provide support for vines in the form of a trellis or pole.
Tip: Never work around bean plants when they are wet. Disease can quickly spread from plant to plant, destroying an entire crop.
Companion plants for Beans include carrots, celery, chards, corn, eggplant, peas, potatoes, brassicas, beets, radish, strawberry and cucumbers. Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users like corn and grain plants because the nitrogren used up by the corn and grains are replaced at the end of the season when the bean plants die back. Summer savory deters bean beetles and improves growth and flavor. Keep beans away from the alliums.

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