Thursday, November 29, 2012

In the Garden Spotlight: Beans

If you would like to start your own garden or add to your collection of seeds, check out the Seeds in a Stocking Giveaway going on now.  Includes your choice of 3 varieties of heirloom seeds, a mini-stocking and a holiday card for you to personalize (in case you decide to give as a gift).
Blue Lake Beans (like you buy in the store)
60 days.  This dark-green bean has been a favorite for over 40 years.  Heavy yield.  Matures its large crop early and all at once.  Stagger planting for longer harvesting.
Developed from the Pole Blue Lake

I mentioned the Three Sister's method when growing Sweet Corn in the last spotlight.  This is similar to companion planting.  It is a garden practice used by Native Americans when growing Corn, Squash and Beans.
From Wikipedia:  "The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a "living mulch", creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Maize lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the human body needs to make proteins and niacin, but beans contain both and therefore maize and beans together provide a balanced diet."
Golden Wax Bean
55 days.  Old-time favorite introduced in 1900.  Excellent quality and yields. 
Stringless pods are 5-7 inches long with delicious wax bean flavor.  Good for freezing or canning.

This year I have added several bean varieties!  The Kentucky Wonder or "Old Homestead" is a pole variety.  The Blue Lake Bush, Royalty Purple Podded and Golden Wax are all bush varieties.
Kentucky Wonder Bean
65 days.  Pole Bean variety.  Introduced in 1864, this bean was originally known by the name 'Old Homestead.'  What made the 'Kentucky Wonder' a wonder was, in part, its size. The beans are extraordinarily long.  They produce beans in clusters over an extended season.

Royalty Purple Podded
 56 days.  Bush variety.  Tender, bright purple pods turn green when cooked. 
Prolific producer and a good home garden variety.  Beautiful addition to your garden and very tasty.  Plant a row every three weeks until July for a long harvest period.
Royalty Purple Beans are a nude color
I recently added the Royalty Purple to my own garden.  I soaked the beans for 3 hours before I planted them and the germination was much faster and more successful.  Living in South Florida allows me to try different varieties throughout the year.  I am looking forward to purple beans in another 37 days or so.

Bean seedling at approx day 19
From the Growing from Seed page: 

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 1inch-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-inch furrow.  Cover all seeds with soil and water well. 

Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. 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. 

Bush beans are ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days, while pole beans take between 60 and 90 days. Beans should be harvested when the pods are 4" to 6" long. Beans that stay on the plant too long are much less tender and flavorful. Beans should be harvested frequently, even daily, to encourage continued production. Simply pull the pods from the vine to harvest, but try not to knock the blooms off the plant

Are you enjoying the In the Garden Spotlight series so far?  I appreciate all of the feedback so far.  See you tomorrow!


Nancy said...

Thanks for sharing about green beans. I love the purple beans...I've grown purple beans several times and they are so pretty in the garden. Thanks for all the work in this post, it's a great garden basics on beans! Blessings!

Denise said...

I'm looking forward to seeing a new crop for 2013 and all the color in the garden will make it that much more fun!

Judy Bisaya said...

Hi, I have never seen a purple beans in my entire life until now. Well, maybe because I live in southeast asia. Good to know. Nice meeting you.

Judy (Pursuit of Functional Home)

Mary Smith said...

Thanks Nancy! Stay tuned for more spotlights.

Thanks for stopping by Denise!

Judy, I'm only just learning about purple beans myself.

Don't forget to enter the Seeds in a Stocking Giveaway!. You can choose 3 heirloom varieties is you win!

Nifty Thrifty Family said...

Following from the blog hop thru email. I can't wait to check out your posts. If you get time I would love it if you would stop by