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Growing Bush Snap Beans in Your Garden

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Growing Bush Snap Beans in your garden is a snap…if you know a few tricks of the trade. I tried Pole Beans my first year of gardening and the plants topped their six-foot support trellis and kept on going.

But I was disappointed that they did not produce many green beans and it got to be hard to find the beans in the tangled mass at the top of the support trellis in order to harvest them.

Bob Randall (“Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston”) seems to favor pole beans but does suggest that they are not as productive as bush varieties. So I switched to Bush Beans the next year and I’ve never gone back to the Pole variety.

My variety recommendation: Provider Snap (50-55 days to maturity) Productive, early, around 5 to 8-inch bean; a favorite because of its upright growth, virus resistance, and high productivity in a variety of climates. Can also be eaten as a dry soup bean.

I found this variety was such a gorgeous, slender, long, tasty green bean that I’ve planted it year after year in my garden both in the spring and in the fall. I get my seeds from Seeds of Change.

The first year I planted pole bean seeds, I had lots of leafless shoots emerge. At first, I wondered if something had eaten my little seedlings before they sprouted. But I learned that if the top of the soil dries out and gets even a little “crusty,” it will scrape off the two little cotyledons as the stem of the plant raises its head from beneath the soil. Without a growing tip, no plant develops.

Seed starting tip #1: Dig a shallow trench in your planting bed about 1-1/2 to 2 inches deep and fill it with Vermiculite (I get it in huge bags from Plants for All Seasons); water it in.

Space seeds 6 to 8 inches apart down the row(s) planting them 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep. When the seedlings germinate, they will have no problem raising their heads through the lightweight, soft Vermiculite.

Seed starting tip #2: Beans are legumes that like to be planted in soil where other legumes have been grown previously. But you can plant them in a new bed (new to beans) if you add an inoculant when you plant them. I have found that I get better germination when I use an inoculant and pre-soak my beans for a couple of hours before planting them. (Soaking them overnight is too much soaking; it decreased the germination rate for me).

Beans and other legumes don’t need a lot of fertilizer because their root systems are colonized by nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Inoculants are loaded with the right kinds of bacteria that colonize legume root systems and contribute to their growth and development. Spray them with kelp/seaweed fertilizer or compost tea once per month.

Best soil temperature for starting seeds: 60° to 85° (ideal temp of 80°).

Best growing temperature: 60° to 85° (daytime)

Planting Tip #1: There is some evidence that beans do better in rows rather than with equidistant, intensive spacing (like Square Foot Gardening) because the sun hits their stems.

Planting Tip #2: Once the seedlings are 5 to 6 inches tall, carefully add a 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch over the bed to keep leaves dry and the soil moist.

Harvest every other day like clockwork. There will be no strings if you don’t let them get too big. Plants will die if you let them go to seed.

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