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Bean Growing Guide

Pole beans, bush beans, dry, lima, snap, waxed. There are so many varieties of beans, each one with so many reasons to love it! And the best part about them all is they're super easy to grow, so don't let all the options overwhelm you. Pick a few to start or experiment with them all. You can't go wrong with beans!

Pole Beans

Pole beans grow as vines that can reach as high as 15 feet, so establishing a trellis or other structure to help support them is important. This makes them a bit more high-maintenance than bush bean varieties, however pole beans are often preferred because they tend to have better flavor, they take up less space, and the upright style of harvesting is definitely easier. Once harvesting begins, these beans should be picked every few days. If they're left on the vine too long they will become brittle and bitter.

Bush Beans

Reaching approximately 2 feet in height, bush bean plants are self-supporting and easy to grow in a garden, a raised bed, or containers. They're very quick to mature, making them ideal for short growing seasons like those found in the north. A mature plant will produce quite a heavy harvest of impressive, 6-inch pods. One of the coolest things about bush beans is that they let you stagger their harvest so you can enjoy them throughout the entire growing season (this will vary depending on how long your season actually is). Simply direct sow a crop every two weeks and when one is finished the next one will be right up.

Dry Bush Beans

Plant dry bush bean seeds directly in the garden after all threat of frost has passed. If you want a large crop for generous amounts of fresh eating, freezing, and canning, plant seeds all at once. For a sustained harvest with smaller crops ready one after the other, stagger planting every two weeks throughout the season. When growing dry bush bean varieties, you leave the beans in their shell to dry after the pods reach maturity. Once dry, the beans can be shelled and then stored for a year or more (in a cool, dry place).

Lima Beans

Lima beans don't tolerate cold or transplanting very well, so direct sow them when soil temps are at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit and after all threat of frost has passed. They do love the warmer days of mid-summer and prefer lots of sunshine, so be sure you plant in a spot that gets the most direct exposure. Lima blossoms tend to be a bit delicate, so take care not to disrupt them too much when weeding as they might fall off. The plants like moist soil but go easy as overwatering can cause the seedlings to rot.

Snap Beans

Snap beans can be pretty sensitive when it comes to the cold, so plant them directly into your garden a week or so after any threat of frost has passed. They're also not fond of too much moisture and will rot in soggy soil, so be careful not to overwater them. Your beans will be ready to pick about 50-60 days after they're sown. You'll know they're ready because they'll be about as thick as a pencil and their sides will be curvy thanks to all the beans inside. The term "snap" is not a scientific term, but refers to how the beans are used. Eaten in the pod, these beans are "snapped" from the vine to be enjoyed fresh or "snapped" in half before being steamed.

Wax Beans

Plant wax bean seeds directly into your garden in the spring after any threat of frost has passed and soil temps are at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They'll love full sun exposure and air temps ranging anywhere between 50-85 degrees, making them a great crop for gardeners all across the country. Golden Wax bush beans are perfect for canning and freezing, so don't be afraid to go a little overboard with this heavy yielder. Just be sure to rotate your planting locations each year to maintain optimal soil and seedling health.

Did you know? The oldest archaeological evidence of common beans in the New World comes from Tehuacan, Mexico and has been radiocarbon dated to 7000 BC.