Green beans come in two major varieties, bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans just like the name grow into small bushes about 2 feet tall and wide. Pole beans are a vine plant and need some support to climb. They will end up between 8 and 20 feet long depending on the variety and support given.
Support can be given and added on as many different ways as you can think of! If pole beans reach the top of your support and you don’t feel like adding more support vertically or sideways you can clip the top of the plants and they will have more and stronger side growth that can grow sideways across existing supports.
Plant bush beans every 2″ apart and then thin to 4″ apart when plants are 3″ high. Make rows 3 feet apart from center to give the plants room to grow and have some space to walk through.
Plant pole beans every 3″ apart and then thin to at least 6″ apart when plants are 3″ high. Rows of pole beans will need to have supports for the beans to climb. Make rows about 2 feet apart so that you can walk through to apply fertilizer and do pest patrol.
Plant the bean seeds in the ground 1″ deep. To thin plants take out smaller plants and plants that are too close together. Cut the plants with scissors just above the soil. Don’t pull them out by hand to avoid disturbing the roots of the remaining bean plants.
How to Grow Green Beans In a Pot
Either bush beans or pole beans can be grown in pots. Remember if you’re growing pole beans they need support. You can give them support by placing the container next to a fence or trellis or by placing bamboo poles in the pot and forming a teepee sort of structure that comes together up top in the middle for the beans to climb.
The same spacing as above still applies with bush beans being 4 inches apart and pole beans 6 inches apart. When starting beans in pots place them in an area sheltered from strong winds. Green beans like full sun so make sure they are getting at least 6 hours of sun. Beans need a good amount of water especially around flowering and fruiting so a big container with multiple plants in it is a good way to go. Make sure the container you’re using has good drainage and is at least 8 inches deep.
Growing Green Beans In Raised Beds
Bush beans are the common choice for raised beds. You can really pack the bush beans into a raised bed because you don’t need to have an aisle to walk through. Plant rows about 4 inches from the edge of the bed and 18 inches apart.
Pole beans need support. This can be done in any way you can think of. A simple way is to take bamboo poles and make teepees in the beds. Make a circle in the dirt with a diameter of 2 feet. Take 8 poles and spread them around the circle evenly. Plant pole beans every 3″ around the teepees and then thin down to every 6″ once the plants reach about 3″ tall.
Soil for Green Beans
Beans are not picky about the soil they grow in and do well in almost any type of soil. Like most vegetables, they do best in loamy soil that’s rich in organic matter. Loamy soil is a mixture sand, silt, and clay. The three materials have different size particles that creates space between them allowing air, water, and roots to easily travel through loamy soil. Organic matter adds nutrients and beneficial bacteria to the soil. It also makes sandy soil more water and nutrient retentive and makes heavy clay soil better draining and transversible.
If you need large amounts of good soil it is a great idea to call your local government or city workers and find out if they have mulch piles. You should be able to find access to huge amounts of mulch that comes from the city collecting leaves and grass clippings. You can mix this organic material with almost any soil and with a little bit of time create great soil. If you’re just getting started you can do this in one section and put potting soil on top to create a space that is ready to grow in immediately.
Buying potting soil is great because it is ready made perfect growing soil. In most cases if you’re using bagged potting soil you will not even need to add fertilizer for a whole growing season. Here are two great options for potting soil. A standard potting soil from Miracle-Gro and an organic option from Organic Plant Magic.
Beans will grow in a soil PH range from 5.5-7.5 but the ideal range is 6.0-6.5. If the soil PH is too alkaline or acidic plants are not able to use the nutrients that are in the soil. Adding lime or sulfur to the soil is the common solution to bring the PH level up or down but it is a long process and you can figure about a years time for every 1 point in PH change.
The big three nutrients in soils are listed on fertilizers as N-P-K, Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium. After that in importance come sulfur, calcium, and magnesium and other trace minerals. This home test kit is a reasonable price and will tell you 13 nutrient levels in your soil and the soil PH.
Nitrogen Fixing Aid
Green beans and most legumes are nitrogen fixing plants. They take nitrogen out of the air and fix it into the soil. To be more specific, it is specific strains of bacteria that have a symbiotic relationship with the beans that do the nitrogen fixing. The bacteria have a host in the bean plants and take up residence in the roots forming nodules along the roots, and the beans benefit by having the nitrogen they need added to the soil.
Bean plants will frequently take up bacteria strains that are not efficient at or don’t do any nitrogen fixing. They are not very selective about their root guests. This is why it is a good idea to add bacteria strains to the soil that are heavy nitrogen fixers. This soil inoculant has three strains of bacteria, bradyrhizobium sp., rhizobium leguminosarum, and R. phaseoli, that are selected for just this purpose. Adding this soil inoculant at planting with any bean is a great addition to give soil a boost in organic nitrogen.
Do Green Beans Need a Trellis?
It depends on whether the variety you want to grow is a bush bean or a pole bean. If it is a pole bean it will require some type of support to climb. You can grow pole beans along a fence or erect any type of structure for the beans to climb.
Native Americans would grow beans with corn and allow the beans to grow up the corn stalk. The ways to support your pole beans are endless and as long as you give these natural climbers a rope to climb they will make good use of it.