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How to Grow Beans

Most of us start out growing snap beans and then stay there in our cozy comfort zone — after all, what’s more, natural and tastier than a good snap bean? Plus, kids love them, and they give newbie gardeners a sense of accomplishment. But if you’ve been gardening for a while and want to branch out into something a bit more adventurous, there are some fantastic sweet varieties that you’ll be sure to love.

A young man holding a fresh bean pod from the garden.

Pole Beans-Scarlet Runner Beans

Pole beans are fun to grow, and they also allow gardeners to maximize planting space through vertical gardening. Plant pole beans to ensure a more extended crop period, which can yield up to three times as many delicious beans as bush varieties.

Add some vibrant color to your vegetable garden with the red-flowered stunners. They produce sensational showy clusters of scarlet blossoms that add intrigue and attract bumblebees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the garden.

How to Grow

Plant these broad beans at least 2-3 inches apart in soil that is high in organic matter. These showy bloomers love full sun and proliferate quickly. These beans are vigorous climbers and require the support of a trellis, teepee, or an obelisk, but the tendrils will attach themselves to almost anything.

How to Harvest

Young seedpods can be eaten much like you would a snap pea, or you can allow the pods to dry and collect the matured beans.

Varieties to try: ‘Scarlet Runner’ and ‘Purple King’

Edamame Beans

Most people love edamame purchased from the store — lightly steamed and salted, they’re like manna from heaven. But you can grow them at home and save money! These tender pods are actually young soybeans, and they are surprisingly easy to grow.

How to Grow

Rule #1 (and this rule shall not be broken) is to plant edamame in soil that is a minimum of 65 degrees. Ignore this rule at your peril, and be prepared to have terrible germination rates. Direct sow the seeds 2 inches apart in full sun, and thin to 4-6 inches apart once they’re big enough. Give them consistent irrigation (one inch of water weekly), and mulch to maintain the soil moisture.

How to Harvest

Pods that are bright green and plump are good to go. Overripe pods will have a yellowish color, and the beans will quickly lose their sweetness.

Varieties to try: ‘Shirofumi,’ ‘Midori Giant,’ ‘Envy’

Woman shows chickpeas in close up. Chickpea are growing on the field

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans, more popularly known as chickpeas, are surprisingly easy to grow and can be used to make hummus and are commonly used in soups and stews and on salads.

How to Grow

Chickpeas enjoy plenty of sun and thrive in soil that is well-drained drained, and nutrient-rich. Amend the soil by mixing in some well-decomposed organic compost. Chickpeas are sensitive to cold, so a proper layering of mulch will help to insulate the young plants and provide the retained moisture necessary for germination.

How to Harvest

Garbanzo bean varieties are primed for picking in about 100 days after planting. You can tell if they have matured when you see plump swelled pods present on slightly withering plants.

Pick and eat these delectable beauties fresh off the bush just as you would with snap peas. If you would rather harvest your chickpeas when they are dry, pull the entire plant and let it air dry. The seed pods will split open on their own, allowing you to collect the beans easily. You must dry the plant out in a dry place and enable the plant to air dry. Too much moisture can allow mold and fungus to set in and will ruin your harvest plans.

Pole Beans

Pole beans have longer harvest windows and are known for their sweeter and starchier taste, as opposed to that of bush beans.

How to Grow

Chickpeas enjoy plenty of sun and thrive in soil that is well-drained drained, and nutrient-rich. Amend the soil by mixing in some well-decomposed organic compost. Chickpeas are sensitive to cold, so a proper layering of mulch will help to insulate the young plants and provide the retained moisture necessary for germination.

Hyacinth Beans

Hyacinth beans are a vining plant that delivers crazy cool purple or green pods with violet or white flower clusters (great for cut flowers, by the way). Every part of this ornamental and tasty plant is edible, from the leaves and flowers to the immature pod. Mature seeds, however, require thorough cooking to remove a toxic compound.

How to Grow

This is a heat-loving plant with the white varieties requiring an even longer growing season. Give them full sun and a decent structure to climb on, because they can grow from 8-15 feet. Consistent moisture yields the tastiest crops.

How to Harvest

Young leaves are tender and can be harvested and cooked similarly to spinach. Use the flowers as edible garnishes in salads and entrees. Harvest pods when they are still young and about 1 ½” long — de-string and use them as substitutes for snow peas.

Varieties to try: ‘Purple Moon,’ ‘Ruby Moon,’ ‘Moonshadow’

Yardlong beans hanging from tree

Yard-Long Beans

Also called Noodle Beans, yard-long beans offer bright green foliage with beans that grow as long as two feet! I love a plant that is both unusually ornamental and delicious — and if you have children, you might find that this bean plant is enough to get them interested in gardening and eating their veggies in one fell swoop.

How to Grow

Like edamame, yard-long beans demand warm soil for best germination. Make sure they get full sun, a bit of compost, regular irrigation, and vertical support (trellis, fence, teepee, or obelisk) for 8-12 feet of growth. Direct sow seeds 3 inches apart, thinning to 6 inches apart when they’re big enough. While they are twining vines, you may need to encourage the twining in the early days to get them going.

How to Harvest

Harvest when pods are 10-15 inches long, have a pencil-sized diameter and show a smooth skin. Harvesting too late (when the seed pods are two feet long and bumpy), and you may be disappointed with both the taste and the texture. Shoot tips and leaves are also edible.

Companion Plants

Some great plants to grow alongside your beans are, squash and corn. They are very beneficial to one another because the corn stalks provide a strong, sturdy, and natural support for your bean vines, the beans provide a great nitrogen source to your corn and squash by pulling nitrogen out of the air, and the squash helps prevent weeds and retain moisture through the use of it’s big leaves. Read more about how this works and how you can take advantage of this for your garden here.

Kellogg Garden Organics

All Natural Raised Bed & Potting Mix

**Product not available in AZ, CA, HI, NV, UT. For a comparable product in these states click here.

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  1. Can I plant pole beans and cucumbers on the medal chain link fence in my neighborhood? Also called a hurricane fence. Is this too hot for them here in north Louisiana?
    thank you

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