There are a lot of different kinds of beans out there, but not many can steal the spotlight from the simple green bean. Whether baked in a casserole, eaten as a healthy snack, or taken to market, growing your own beans can be an excellent pastime. But there’s one small catch. You need to grow them on a pole because they are a vining plant that does best when it is climbing.
Growing beans on a pole or trellis may seem like a lot of extra work to save space in your garden. All of these beans can be grown in a bush form instead, but utilizing a pole will do more than just save space. Growing your beans vertically will lead to larger and more reliable harvests. Pole bean pods are easier to harvest, and some gardeners swear the beans taste better as well.
If you’re willing to put the work in up front, these beans will more than prove their worth. Here’s how you can get started.
The ideal soil temperature for pole beans is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The best time to sow is after the spring frost. The soil also needs to be somewhat fertile, but adding a little compost can solve that problem. Be sure to use compost with little to no manure—doing so will keep some pests away. Pole beans also need a lot of moisture. Mulch is a perfect solution to maintain a proper balance.
How to Plant Pole Beans
The first thing you’ll need is either a trellis or stake for your plants. Pole beans can reach up to five to 10 feet tall, so keep that in mind when making preparations. Plant your seeds directly into the soil, three inches apart and one inch deep. You will need to thin them out as they grow, leaving space up to four inches between each young plant.
Caring for Your Pole Beans
As mentioned before, it is important to keep the soil moist. Adding mulch to the area around plants will help your soil retain water. Early in the morning, before the heat of the day, is the best time to water your beans. During hot summer weather, be sure to keep the roots moist. Light watering is fine until the flowers bloom. Remove the flowers as they fall, as too much nitrogen in the soil will yield you fewer pods.
Pests and Diseases
Unfortunately, pests enjoy beans as much as people do. Aphids, cutworms, and beetles of a few different varieties are a few notable species with an appetite for beans. Some bugs can wash off when watering, but be sure to check your plants daily afterward for signs of infection. Quarantine or dispose of infected plants, and make sure to keep their foliage dry. White mold can also afflict pole beans in the right environment. Mosaic virus, a genetic virus that can affect plants, is another threat. This infection can cause leaves to become discolored and display a mosaic-like texture.
Harvesting and Storage
Pole beans are ready to harvest as soon as the pods have matured. Picking the pods as they grow can increase your yield. Pods are ready to pick when they are firm and a good size. To remove them, snap or cut off the pods. Do not tear pods from the plant—this rough treatment will cause damage. Pole beans can stay fresh for four days. They tend to toughen over time however. Pole beans will keep best if canned, pickled, or frozen.
Varieties of Pole Beans
There are many different types of pole beans. So pick one that is best suited to your garden. Here are our top 10 garden picks.
Asian Winged Bean: These pods have four winged edges as well as edible roots. They grow well in high heat and humidity.
Blue Lake Stringless Bean: A stringless variety of the Blue Lake Bean that is known for prolific, flavorful harvests.
Chinese Long Bean: A variety that lives up to its name, the Chinese Long Bean can grow 10 feet tall or more and has pods up to 30 inches long. It’s also able to grow in both hot and cold climates.
Climbing French: With distinct purple leaves and stringless pods, this variety is commonly grown in Britain for its delicious taste.
Kentucky Wonder Pole: This stringless variety was first popular in the 1900s for its flavor. It’s still commonly found in home gardens.
Lazy Housewife: An heirloom bean that was first sold in 1810 and was marketed as the first stringless green bean.
Purple Podded Pole Bean: These purple pods are stringless and tender, and they grow to seven inches in length. You will have plenty of beans if you grow this variety.
Rattlesnake Pole Bean: This variety gets its name for its dark green pods with purple streaks. It is drought resistant and can grow in sandy soil.
Romano Pole Bean: This stringless variety is special because it is mosaic virus resistant. The pods are flat, thick, tender, and prized by gourmets.
Scarlet Runner Bean: This variety gets its name for its dazzling red flowers. It grows well in cooler temperatures and can reach up 10 feet tall.
With so many varieties of pole beans, picking the best one for your garden is a breeze. No matter where you live, there is a pole bean that will grow in your backyard. All it takes is a trip to your local seed store and some elbow grease.
Now that you know your way around a beanpole, it’s time to plant. Pole beans are tasty and rich in protein, iron, thiamine, and riboflavin. So whether you are starting your own garden or just looking for an easy plant to care for, pole beans can grow taller than your expectations.
Alexandria Harkins is a freelance writer with a passion for literature. Born and raised in Georgia, she now raises her own family in the beautiful blue ridges of the state. With a passion for the earth and all things natural, she hopes to one day assume the family green thumb. For now she studies all things botanical so that she can gain knowledge to start her own herb garden.
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