As challenging times continue across the city and the country, getting outside and digging in the dirt can provide a welcome change. While planting a few seeds is not going to fix the world’s problems, it can provide some solace and satisfaction on an individual level. Remember the fairy tale about Jack and the Beanstalk? Let’s all be like Jack and plant some magic beans!
Beans are a mainstay of the summer vegetable garden and they are great place to start an edible garden because they are easy-to-grow!
The seeds are large and easy to handle for direct planting (great activity for kids!)
The plants are “nitrogen fixers” so they give back to the soil and don’t require any fertilizer
They grow in either a bush or vining style, so you can match to your garden size and style
You can choose your bean type depending on what kind of beans you like to eat!
Growing patterns of beans
Beans grow as either a bush or vining style, so you can match your beans to your garden size and style.
Bush beans – these plants grow to about 1 foot in height and are free standing so don’t require any supporting structure. You can plan them almost everywhere.
Pole Beans – these beans needs a structure or “pole” to climb on – they grow well in containers as long as you give them a structure to provide vertical support.
Fresh beans or Dry beans?
Fresh beans (also known as Snap Beans or String Beans) are intended to be eaten when the seeds are still young. Pick them as soon as they get a few inches long. They are not just “green beans” as you can grow so many different colors! Look for yellow or purple striped varietals just for fun!
Dry beans (or Shelling beans) produce large pods that can be “shelled” for the seeds. You can put these in, train them up a pole and then just let them go! When the pods dry out at the end of the summer it is time to harvest. Dried beans can then be stored for eating later in the fall and winter.
Fava beans are typically grown earlier in the growing season as they like the cooler weather, so if you like those, plan to put those in later in the fall for overwintering and a spring harvest!
Runner Beans are typically grown in the U.S. as ornamental plants for their bright flowers (but they are popular edibles in other countries). Scarlet Runner Beans have gorgeous red flowers that attract pollinators to your garden. You can eat the pods or the beans, but be sure to do it when they are small as they get tougher as the season goes forward.
The best thing about growing beans is that once they are established beans require very little care. You can have a supply of homegrown beans throughout the season. Begin your harvest when the beans are small and tender and keep picking regularly and they will continue to produce. The more you harvest, the more you get. Plant one row this week and then add a second planting in a few weeks so that have a continual supply of beans all season instead of a large harvest all at once.
I have planted five different types of beans in my parking strip garden this year and I look forward to watching them grow and comparing the differences between the varietals.
Want to get in on the fun? Go out and get a package of bean seeds and grow your own magical beanstalk this year!
Let me know if you have any questions and we will get you Good to Grow in no time!