Whether you are an amateur or expert gardener, you can easily grow bush beans in your backyard or even a container. This variety of beans do not need trellising and can provide a very nice return on investment. These beans grow into bushes and do not need the support of poles.
They are dinner table favourites around the globe and come in different varieties such as green shelling beans, snap beans, dry shell beans etc. If you are an aspiring gardener who is curious about how to grow bush beans, then you have come to the right place. Today we are going to discuss about a bush bean growing guide in details.
What Are Bush Beans?
Beans come in two varieties – bush beans and pole beans. Just as their name suggests, bush beans do not require any form of support for staying upright. Herein lies its points of difference with the pole beans variety.
Bush beans require less time for producing beans when compared to pole beans. They also take up less garden space and come in a variety of colours like yellow, green, purple and mottled combinations of these hues.
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Growing Conditions, Cultivation and History
Bush beans thrive during warm season. You should plant them after the chances of frost becomes non-existent. They grow best when the air temperature varies between 65 to 85-degree Fahrenheit.
For germination, the soil temperature needs to be in between 70 to 80-degree Fahrenheit. The seeds might not grow well if the soil temperature during sowing is less than 60-degree Fahrenheit. It is always advisable to wait until the temperatures warm up before sowing the seeds.
In case if you want continuous harvest during summer months, then you can sow the seeds every two weeks in succession. For best results, the final crop should be sowed 60-70 days prior to the average first frost date according to the maturity time of the variety you have chosen.
Bush beans require a lot of sunlight ranging between six to eight hours daily. Although it can tolerate a bit of shade, the results will be better on planting the bush beans under full sun. These plants have a preference towards silt loam or clay soil which are either slightly acidic or neutral and have a pH balance of 6.0 to 7.0.
You can conduct a soil test to determine the pH level of your garden soil if you are unsure about the same. pH strips available in the market can also help you determine the pH level of the soil in an easy manner. It’s best to opt for a soil rich in organic matter and having well-drainage ability.
Prior to sowing seeds, you can mix some compost six-inch-deep within the soil bed. Crumbly but not compacted garden soil helps the sprouting seeds to emerge from the ground easily.
You can practice no-till or low gardening to avoid compaction. Walking or standing on the planting beds should also be avoided at all cost.
You need to be cautious while adding fertilizer as excess addition tends to promote leafy growth rather than pod production. This is why, you should stay away from exorbitant usage of nitrogen-rich fertilizers.
Organic compost, well-rotted sheep manure and worm castings can serve as rich fertilizer options which can deliver the beneficial soil microbes not present in the synthetic ones. Bush beans are domesticated varieties of P.vulgaris which is native to Latin America. This wild plant can thrive in both subtropical and temperate climates in its native range. However, they are highly vulnerable to damage caused by frost. Both bush and pole beans are descendants of this wild plant.
How to Grow Bush Beans?
You can plant the seeds of bush beans either manually or by using a garden seeder. They need to be planted at a distance of three inches and two inches deep. The rows also need to be spaced 24 to 36 inches apart.
You can thin them to six inches once the seedlings start growing leaves. If you reside in a humid area, then more space needs to be left between the plants to promote better airflow. You can even enhance the nitrogen-fixing ability of the bush beans by sprinkling an inoculant over the rows while planting.
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How to Sow?
Bush beans should be directly sown into the soil as they do not fare well on being transplanted. You can grow it easily in a minimum of eight feet deep containers. The number of plants you can grow will be directly determined by the diameter or width of the pot.
Bush beans seed germinate best when the soil temperature ranges between 70 to 80-degree Fahrenheit. If you are unsure of the soil temperature, then you can clear your doubts using a soil thermometer.
The seeds need to be planted three inches apart and one inch deep. The rows need to be spaced at 18 to 24 inches. While growing bush beans in containers, you can space the seeds 2 inches away from each side of the pot and three inches apart from each other.
After covering your seeds, you can pat the soil gently. This improves chances of germination by ensuring contact in between the soil and the seed. It is advisable to be gentle while watering the newly sown seeds.
For doing this, you can use the sprinkler setting on your hose attachment or watering wand. The seeds might take between 8 to 10 days to germinate. However, germination might be delayed if the soil temperature is below 60-degree Fahrenheit while planting the seeds. In such cases, the seedlings might take more than two weeks to sprout.
How to Water Bush Beans?
Bush beans require consistent moisture and good drainage. The planting area or raised beds need to be kept moist but not waterlogged post sowing and till the time they germinate. Experts at the University of Georgia Extension recommend irrigating twice a week on establishment of the plant.
However, you need to understand that bush beans are very prone to fungal infection. To keep chances of infestation low, you should water the plant during early hours of the day so that the soil dries up adequately prior to nightfall. It is also advisable to water the plant roots rather than pouring water over the leaves from overhead.
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How to Grow Bush Beans in Container?
Gardeners limited with small space might be required to grow bush beans in containers. If you are growing the plant early and the soil temperature has not yet reached the adequate range for ground-potting, then you can grow it in a container.
Frost is the ultimate nemesis of bush beans and if you reside in a chilly area, then you should bring the pots inside at night for protecting the plants from freezing.
- Bush beans require containers which can store 6 to 7 inches of soil. The pot should also have multiple unobstructed holes to promote adequate drainage of water.
- Although the look of the pot is not very important, unglazed varieties help the plant to breathe and even allow the excess water to evaporate.
- The diameter of your chosen pot determines the number of plants that can be sown in the container. As a rule of thumb, nine plants can be planted in every 30 cm of surface space.
The pot needs to be filled using a potting mix meant for bush beans. You can either make the mix on your own or purchase it from the store. For a DIY potting mix, you will have to blend in compost or sphagnum moss in equal proportions with vermiculite and pasteurized soil.
Manure or vegetable fertilizer needs to be incorporated before planting. A soilless medium can also be used as a potting mix. Bean seeds take between five to eight days to germinate.
You can lightly spread mulch over the soil surface once they have pushed up. This will help the soil in retaining the moisture. Potted bean plants have more water requirement than the ones grown in normal garden soil.
You will have to provide adequate irrigation whenever the top 2 to 3 inches of soil feel dry to touch. A diluted liquid vegetable fertilizer can be used for fertilizing the soil once a month.
Growing Bush Beans in Raised Beans
Certain gardeners prefer growing bush beans in raised beans since they tend to produce for much longer. However, the effort requirement is greater in this case as they need to be staked up. The most common support is via poles which need to have a height ranging between 6 to 8 feet.
- Another popular option is a bean plant tepee which is made using three to four bamboos having a length of 5-6 foot which remain tied together at one end. Untied ends of the bamboo poles have to be spread apart on the ground making the pole bean support look similar to a Native American tepee.
- You will have to plant two seeds at the base of each stick while planting beans on a bush bean plant teepee. Next comes trellis which refers to a moveable fence. It can be built at home by connecting slats in a criss-cross way or bought from the store.
- The trellis should have a height of 5 to 6 feet and the beans need to be planted at its base 3 inches apart. Lastly comes tomato cage which are store bought wire frames and not as efficient as the other mechanisms mentioned above. While growing beans using tomato cages, the plant simply tends to outgrow the same and flops over the top. Pods will be produced but the production rate is comparatively reduced than the other varieties.
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How to Harvest Bush Beans?
The pods of bush beans become ready to be plucked 45 to 65 days after planting. Alternatively, you can count its harvest time one to two weeks after the blossoms appear.
Unless you are planning on saving the seeds for growing heirloom varieties of plant the following year, you will have to pick them before the pod seeds bulge.
The pods shall have to be harvested once the irrigation or morning dew has dried up. This helps in avoiding the spread of disease. Frequent picking of pods helps to ensure the continued production of plants to keep your dinner plates full with tasty and healthy preparations.
- If you are harvesting by hand, then you need to remove the beans gently for avoiding any damage to pods and plants.
- Bush beans can be easily harvested using a machine. But it always pays more to start with weed-free fields having uniform sized beans. Mechanical harvesters can either be self-propelled or tractor-pulled.
- On harvesting, you will have to loosely pack the beans into containers as that will keep it protected from the sun and heat.
- Cooling can lengthen the shelf life of harvested bush bean plants.
Managing Pests and Disease
Growing bush beans is very easy although this variety of plant is very vulnerable to infestations of pests. You should regularly check your plants for signs of holes chewed in leaves.
- Aphids are the most popular insect that might infect your plant during cool and dry months. You can control an aphid outbreak by spraying strong jets of soapy water over the plants.
- Bean leaf beetle feed on the undersides of leaves leaving tiny holes on the surface and Mexican bean beetles can make the bush bean leaves look skeletonized.
- On noticing these pests, you will have to hand pick them off the plant. Some of the common diseases you should look out for are anthracnose, bean common mosaic virus and bean rust.
- On noticing strange coloration or puckered leaves, you should immediately pull out the affected parts of the plant and dispose it in the trash. The gardening tools should also be sanitized before being used on other parts of the plant.
Harvesting wet plants also increases the chances of spreading bean bacterial blight. This is something you should avoid at all costs.
Companion Plants to Grow With Bush Beans (Green Beans)
- Catnip which repels flea beetles.
- Corn plants which can create a light shade for the bush beans to thrive prosperously. The corn stalks can also serve as pole for growing raised beans.
- Eggplant, cucumber and radish as they tend to encourage the growth of strong bush bean plants.
- Marigolds keep Mexican bean beetles and similar insects at bay.
- Rosemary and Nasturtium which deter bean beetle pests.
- Summer savory improves the flavour of bush beans while repelling bean beetles.