Phaseolus spp and Glycine max Warm-season annual
Beans should be on everyone’s must-grow list: no supermarket bean can compare to the taste of homegrown, fresh-picked beans. They are one of the easiest vegetables to start from seed and are equally easy to grow. In fact, the toughest part is often choosing which type to plant.
Beans are a diverse group. Some are climbers; others are short and bushy. But the biggest distinction among them is the stage at which they are harvested. Snap beans, also known as green, wax, or string beans, are harvested young and eaten whole, including the pod. Shelling beans, also called horticultural beans, are harvested and shelled when the beans have swelled in the pods but are still tender. (Note that fava beans, which are broad beans, are not included in this discussion and are covered in the section on broad beans.)
Direct sow after the soil has really warmed up usually in late spring. Seeds will rot in cool, wet soil. Plant seeds 4 to 8 in. apart in moistened soil, and avoid watering until they have sprouted. In areas with wet, cool springs, start beans indoors and plant them out after the weather has stabilized but be extremely gentle when transplanting because they don’t like to be moved. Using a legume inoculant on seeds or in the planting hole prior to planting encourages healthy growth by introducing beneficial microorganisms that increase the availability of nitrogen in your soil. You can find inoculants online or at garden centers.
In full sun, in well-drained soil. Bush beans do not require support, but climbers need a teepee or another vertical support. Set up supports prior to planting to avoid inadvertently damaging the growing roots.
Harvest frequently (daily is best) to encourage greater production, preferably when the plant’s
leaves are dry to avoid spreading disease. Pick snap and other beans eaten in the pod when they are small and still tender; after the seeds start to swell, the pods become stringy. Shelling beans, lima beans, and soybeans can be harvested after the seeds have swelled but are still green and tender.
In small spaces, pole and runner beans make excellent use of vertical space. You can also train these climbers over trellises to provide shade to heat-sensitive crops. Many beans have pretty flowers or interesting pods in colors ranging from purple to yellow (wax) or even
Bush and dwarf types do well in containers that are at least 9 in. deep; climbers prefer large tubs or half-barrels.
Aphids, bacterial blight, leafhoppers, Mexican bean beetle, rust, slugs.
Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus): ‘Henderson Bush’ is compact; ‘Christmas’ is a pretty climber. Runner beans (P. coccineus): ‘Scarlet Runner’ is an attractive heirloom runner bean cultivar; ‘White Emergo’ is a white-flowering cultivar. Snap beans (P. vulgaris): ‘Kentucky Wonder’ and ‘Romano’ are classics, available as bush or pole growers. ‘Golden Child’ is a wax (yellow) bean well suited for containers; ‘Royal Burgundy’ produces purple pods on a bush plant. Soybeans (Glycine max): ‘Early Hakucho’ produces early; ‘Sayamusume’ has great flavor.
Suited to Small Spacess
‘Blue Lake’ is a classic snap bean; ‘Fortex’ is a French filet pole bean that produces tender, slender pods.