A Complete Guide to Growing Bush Beans
Updated: Mar 24
Bush beans are easy to grow in your backyard garden or in pots. Helping with planting beans has been a favorite of my kids garden activities since the time they were toddlers. The size of the seeds makes planting beans easy for any age. Beans are listed as one of the 11 easiest vegetables for beginner gardeners to grow.
Growing beans in your vegetable garden is not only easy to do but also beneficial to your garden soil! Beans (along with the rest of the legume family) add nitrogen back into your soil.
Bush Bean Varieties
Bush beans come in many varieties and colors including purple, yellow and green beans. Most varieties of bush been seeds sold today are stringless. One of my favorite varieties of green beans is the Provider variety. It is one of the earliest green beans and can be ready for harvest just 50 days after planting.
When to Plant Bean Seeds
Beans are a heat loving crop that is very sensitive to frost. A soil temperature of 25°C (77°F) is needed for good germination.
Bean seeds can be planted directly into your garden 10 days before your last frost. Where I live, in zone 3 Alberta, I like to plant my bean seeds around June 10th. I often get a very light frost the second week of June. If my beans are up and not covered I lose them to the frost. Hail is another one that sadly likes to take out my beans.
Because beans are planted fairly late in the season, consider planting radishes, spinach, and other fast growing, cold hardy, baby greens near the end of March in the garden bed where you plan for your beans to go. Plan to harvest these prior to planting bush beans.
How to Plant Bush Beans
Soaking bean seeds before planting them is controversial. Some people soak their bean seeds to speed up germination. Bean seeds are susceptible to rotting, especially if the soil temperature is cool. If you wish to soak your bean seeds, soak for less than 8 hours and rinse them well prior to planting.
Plant bush bean seeds 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart. Thin to 4 inches apart. Suggested spacing between rows is normally 18 inches but in my raised beds I plant mine around 10 inches apart with good success.
Check your seed package to make sure your bean seeds have been packaged in the past year. Bean seed germination rates fall rapidly with age. Two-year-old beans may only have a germination rate of 50%.
How Long Does it Take Beans to Germinate?
It normally takes anywhere from 7 to 16 days for beans to germinate (or sprout) depending on soil temperature, moisture, and bean variety.
Succession Planting Beans
Because beans tend to suddenly be ready at the same time it is helpful to succession plant beans every two weeks for a continuous supply. Keep in mind how many days your beans need to mature and when your fall frost is to be sure you have time for the later beans to mature.
Where to Plant Beans
Plant your beans in a full sun location and in well drained soil. Beans can tolerate a wide pH range but ideal soil pH for beans is 6.0 to 6.5. Planting beans in pots and raised beds are great options as the soil tends to warm up sooner and to stay warmer above ground level.
How Often to Water Beans
Like most garden vegetables, beans require 1 to 2 inches of water per week, depending on soil and weather conditions. Check out my tips for watering your vegetable garden.
Do Beans Need Fertilizer?
Surprisingly, no, beans do not need fertilizer. In fact too much nitrogen will produce lots of leaves but delay flowering and thus, harvest date. Instead make sure you are planting into good soil and simply water as needed.
Beans can be harvested as soon as the pods reach the desired size for eating. Smaller beans picked sooner tend to be more tender. Bush beans normally produce for 2 to 3 weeks. During this time harvest beans every few days. You will find the pods grow rapidly and seem to appear from nowhere!
It is best not to harvest beans while the leaves are wet as this may make them more susceptible to disease.
Companion Plants for Bush Beans
Companion plants for bush beans include beets, nasturtiums, radishes, peas, strawberries, celery, corn, cucumbers, Swiss chard, potatoes and marigolds. Avoid planting bush beans near onions and garlic.
What to Plant After Beans
Because beans add nitrogen into the soil plant heavy feeders like brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts) or squash in the garden space the year following planting beans.
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