When I decided to grow green beans in my Central Texas garden, I thought it would be a smooth and fun experience. Little did I know, growing green beans did come with few challenges.
In this article, I will be sharing valuable information gained from personal experience. Also, I will show you the organic approaches I took as solutions to solve the problems I faced.
When to plant green beans?
Green beans are warm-season crops, meaning they grow in the summertime till frost. They are very delicate and do not tolerate low temperatures in the slightest. For this reason, there is no need to plant out them early.
The night should be above 55 F, and day temperatures above 60 F. The following is a time table for growing green beans in Central Texas.
|Green Beans||Start Seeds|
|Transplant/ Direct sow||Direct Sow/ Harvest||Direct sow/ Harvest||Direct sow/ Harvest||Direct sow/ Harvest||Direct sow/ Harvest||harvest|
March is the time you may start your seeds indoors if you want to get an early start. Outside planting usually begins in April with extra caution. Sometimes, we get a sudden cold front or a freeze, which requires us to protect the plants.
May through September is the window for direct sowing green beans. Multiple sowings with time intervals allow continuous and steady harvest.
Types of green beans
There are two types of green beans: pole and bush beans. Check out the table below for a brief comparison between the two. This will help you make the right choice for your garden.
|Pole Beans||Bush Beans|
|Need a support system||Need ground space|
|Steady production||Produces in one flash|
|Fewer bug issues||Several bug issues|
|Very space-efficient||Not very space-efficient|
|Moderate growth speed||Fast growth speed|
Now let me tell you how I make my choice. To be able to feed my family of six, my decision is based on efficiency, so my go-to variety is the pole beans.
Pole beans grow on trellises, which makes them good space savers. Planting two 8 feet rows, one foot apart, provides plenty for us through the summer. While the same ground area planted with bush beans does not. Also, pole beans have a steady production throughout the season.
I want to clarify that I do not intend to grow bushels of green beans for long term storage. At this point, the small garden provides us with enough food for the given season with a little extra to store.
Varieties of Green Beans
There are many varieties of green beans other than the common green bean. Some are skinny and long, while others are flat. Some are pale green, purple, brown, or bicolor. There a something for everyone, take your pick.
My favorite Pole bean that I grow year after year is Yard Beans, also known as Chinese green beans. I grow Calima green bean too for bush type.
Direct sow or start seeds indoors?
Since green beans germinate quickly, direct sowing is more common amongst gardeners. But, it is possible to start green beans indoors, two or three weeks sooner. By doing so, you get ahead start on the season. It is necessary to make sure that the seedlings do not get root-bound.
How I “Plant Plan” my green beans?
Mid-March: I start 1st batch of pole beans indoors, to get a head start.
April: Plant them out after all threat of frost is gone.
May: I direct sow my second batch of pole beans.
June-July: I maintain the plants and harvest.
September: I plant my bush beans for fall harvest.
Being root-bound is when the root system grows too much and becomes tight in the pot. It stresses the plant and can hinder healthy growth, and may delay or reduce production.
There are two reasons why you may choose to start seeds early.
- Lingering frost threat.
- The growing space is still occupied by the previous season crops.
How long does it take for green beans to germinate?
They usually take four to five days after soaking the seeds overnight. If you don’t soak them or are more than a year old, they might up to 12 days.
What is the best soil to grow green beans?
Green beans are not very demanding when it comes to soil conditions. It is preferred to avoid heavy clay soil. Amending it with some compost to improve drainage will prevent seed rot and transplant damping off.
How much sunlight to grow green beans?
Beans are flowering plants; thus, they require full sun for best production. They can take some shade but not too much. More than six hours of direct sunlight is ideal, and a few hours of afternoon shade is not bad.
How to space green bean plants?
Green beans are space savers. Following the Square foot garden method, it is possible to plant nine plants per square foot. However, I find it too close and does not help with pest control. I prefer to put four plants in one square foot.
For pole beans, I put one bamboo cane in the middle of one square foot area then I surround it with three plants. Once the plants start growing, they hang on to the pole and climb it up. The space between the posts/canes is one foot in all directions.
Watering green beans
Water green bean plants regularly, allowing some dry time in between. But do not let them stay dry for more than four days. It may cause them to stop producing and make them more susceptible to pests.
Should I fertilize my green bean plants?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is, green beans are nitrogen fixers. They have a symbiotic relationship with a certain bacterium that lives on the plants’ root system. In exchange, this bacterium processes the oxygen absorbed from the air and turns it into usable nitrogen. Excess nitrogen remains in the soil, therefore, improving its fertility for the next crop.
How long does it take from planting to harvest?
Green beans start flowering two to three weeks after the plants are established and show strength. Make sure to harvest regularly it will encourage the plant to produce more.
Supporting climbing green beans?
In the four years, I started growing green beans, I used different support systems, each time. At last, I settled on two designs. They are both Do-It-Yourself projects and easy to realize.
1- PVC pipes and netting structure: I make a 4 by 6 vertical frame to hold a garden netting. I use R-bar to anchor it into the soil. This trellis tends to lean when it’s loaded with fruit, so I screw the PVC frame to T-posts, on each side, for extra strength. (shown on the right of the picture)
2- Tree branches or bamboo canes: This traditional support system is the most popular. It is easy to put together with free material unless you need to buy the bamboo. (seen on the left)
Is the three-sisters’ method effective?
For those who are wondering, the three sisters’ method refers to planting zucchini, corn, and green beans together. The beans will use the corn stalk as support, while zucchini occupies the ground and acts as mulch. This technique was used by native Americans.
In central Texas, I found it difficult to apply this method, reason being, the squash vine borer. Our squash needs to be covered to protect it from the dreaded moth. The cover does not allow to plant corn and beans within the same bed as squash.
What pests attack green bean plants?
Green beans are not problem-free plants. They do have some pest as well as diseases that make growing them a nuisance to many gardeners.
- Aphids are tiny green or black insects. They congregate, mostly, on the new growth and feed on the leave sap and secrete a sticky substance.
- Ants are attracted by the substance the aphids secrete. Controlling the ants depends on controlling the aphids.
- Spider mites are very small red insects. Tiny red dots should show on a white paper, put under a leaf while tapping it. They, too, suck on the leaves until they turn yellow and then die.
- Stink bugs are armor-like shaped bugs, mostly grey, but some are a red color with black speckles. In a juvenile state, they are also red and gather on the tips of the plant. If not controlled, they become an annoying infestation. They suck on the fruit outer skin leaving a scar on it.
How to get rid of Aphids and spider mites on green beans, organically?
The organic way, to control aphids and spider mites, is washing the plants with a strong jet of water. The water dislodges the insects and disturbs their reproduction cycle. It is recommended to do the washing every two days.
If the infestation is so bad that the water jet is not enough. In this case, you may apply an organic pesticide, such as Neem or Orange oil mixed with water and a drop of soap. You may find the exact dosage on the label of the oil bottle.
The oil sticks to the insects’ body and dries them out to death. Make sure to apply this treatment very early in the morning or late in the evening. Sun exposure may burn the leaves and kill the plant. And, always test first on a few leaves before applying it to all the plants.
It is necessary to attract beneficial insects to your garden. Ladybugs and its pupae are the main aphid predators. You may buy them from a local nursery if they don’t come around your garden naturally.
What is the rust color on the green bean plants?
That is Rust. It is a fungal disease that attacks plants. It appears as rust-colored patches or dots on the leaves, stems, and pods. In general, fungal diseases are more prominent in hot and humid areas.
Prevent rust from appearing by planting rust-resistant varieties and avoiding crowding the planting area.
Otherwise, you may use copper or Sulphur treatment on the leaves. Check with your extension agency first to make sure you follow the proper guidelines before applying such treatment.
Yellowing of green bean leaves
There a few reasons why would leaves of a plant turn yellow in color.
- Too much water: If it had rained a lot or you have been generous with the watering, it is time to refrain. Plants, in general, suffer from too much water as it washes away the nutrients found in the soil.
- Too little water: Scarce watering, also, turns plants yellow. Water is an essential element in the plants’ natural processes. If they don’t get the right amount of water, they fail to produce the necessary energy to help them grow.
- Insects: Mainly spider mites, they survive by sucking on the leaves’ sap. If not put under control they destroy the plant. The leaves will begin showing yellow patches until they dry out and die.
- Regular watering is very important to healthy plant growth. When the problem is caused by excessive rainfall, nothing could be done except wait for it to dry.
- Keep an eye on insects, establish a good pest control routine to lessen the damage.
Green bean plants are beautiful and add a lot of interest to the vegetable garden. From the different growth patterns, flower color variation, and the hanging beans it is just fascinating to look at it.
Try to experiment with some novelty varieties and do not stick to the classics. Enjoy your journey and please share your experience with us.
Green beans in the kitchen
Green beans are found in every cuisine around the world. But one common practice draws attention, and that is parboiling the beans before using them in a recipe. I would say, no need to do so when you use homegrown beans. Garden-fresh beans are very tender and taste much better than store-bought beans.
In my house, green beans are a nice crunchy snack for my kids. They barely make it to the kitchen. When they do, we enjoy them in many recipes.
- Steamed green beans with couscous.
- Green beans Shakshouka.
- Summer vegetables tajines.