Growing green beans (by Jennie Ramage)


Here are my tips for a bumper crop of green beans:

  • Plant bean seeds in a place that has previously grown tomatoes/capsicums/eggplants (following the principles of crop rotation).
  • If following moon phase planting, plant the seeds in the waxing moon phase as the moon changes from a dark moon to a full moon.
  • Wait until at least late October to plant beans, when the chance of cold weather has passed (mostly passed, in Melbourne anyway).
  • For a continuous supply of beans through summer, start planting dwarf beans in late October and climbing beans one month later.
  • A further, late planting of climbing beans in January should produce beans until May.
Dwarf beans only
  • Stronger, taller plants will result if they are given support. Place stakes at either end of the row, with twine every few inches on either side of the row (see photo).
Climbing beans only
  • Use prunings from bamboo or fruit trees for long and thin supports (see photo) or place supports in a circle and tie at the top for a tee-pee.
  • Plant 3 or 4 seeds around each support.
  • Help the plants twist around the supports when they are very young, then they’ll be off and away.
Both dwarf and climbing beans
  • As the plants begin to flower, water with a fine mist in the early morning to improve flower setting. Note that this should be a fine mist and does not replace a proper watering at root level which can be done as needed according to the weather.
  • Weed well when the plants are very young. Then mulch with pea straw, which reduces evaporative water loss from the soil, feeds the microorganisms of the soil, and prevents the soil splashing up on the plants at times of heavy rain.
  • When the beans begin to form, start picking a few even if they are not big yet. This encourages the plant to produce more seeds. The plant will then hopefully flower profusely and your bean crop will be plentiful! After a week or so of picking smallish-sized beans, wait until they grow to a normal size and then pick daily.
  • Pick the beans in the afternoon or evening. If you pick in the morning, the tiny new beans that are about 1cm long have a tendency to fall off when knocked. I don’t know why but this doesn’t seem to happen if you pick beans later in the day.
  • If the beans are curly instead of straight this means that the soil has been allowed to become too dry or that a sap-sucking insect is feasting on your beans. Good ventilation/space between the rows can help prevent this.
  • Feed the soil with liquid or solids from a worm farm.
  • Remember, the more you pick, the more you get! Pick daily and avoid letting any beans grow so large that they develop their seeds. This is because, once the plant has produced viable seed, it has achieved its biological purpose of producing the next generation and may well then stop flowering so you won’t be picking beans from this plant for much longer.
  • Have some good recipes at hand for a bumper crop! Read my recipe for green bean and almond salad.

Happy growing and eating!

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