Growing Green Beans

Green beans are very productive even in poor soil and may be ready for the table in 7-8 weeks. They may be grown as bush beans or pole beans. Your choice of bush or pole beans and how many to plant will depend on the size of your family and if you intend to preserve (or freeze) the beans or grow just for the table.

Pole Beans vs. Bush Beans?

Bush beans take up less space and require less effort in planting, staking, weeding and watering. Bush beans also produce most of their crop all at once, which is great for canning or freezing.

Pole beans are very prolific and you don't have to bend over to harvest them as you do with bush beans. Pole beans mature later than bush beans and bear small amounts each day but will keep producing all summer long if you keep the mature beans picked. Therefore, pole beans are best for those interested in having a pot of beans on the table every 3 or 4 days rather than those interested in a lot of beans all at once to preserve.

Planting Beans

Pole beans require something to climb. If you have plenty of space plant the seed in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Plant them in hills about 3 feet apart in the row. Place a 6- to 8-foot stake in the center of each hill. Plant three to four seeds around the stake, about 1 inch deep in the soil. As the bean vines mature, they will grow up the stake.

Pole Beans

Another method which saves space is to take three or more six foot long wooden poles (don't use metal) and place them in a tripod arrangement, tying them together at the top. Plant 3 seeds around the base of each pole. This arrangement takes little space so you can have two or more of them in a limited area which will produce enough beans for a family all summer.

As the beans send out long shoots, train them to climb the poles if they do not do it on their own (generally, they will)

To get a jump on the growing season, plant the beans indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost in peat pots. When the plants are 4 inches tall (and the weather has warmed) the peat pots can be planted directly in the garden without disturbing the roots.

To plant seed directly in the garden, prepare the soil by adding compost (I prefer well-aged manure) as soon as you can work the soil in the spring. Beans love the sun so be sure to plant your beans in a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sun each day.

For bush beans, plant the seed about 1 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart in the row. The rows should be 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart. After the beans are up, thin the plants to 3 to 4 inches apart.


Keep your beans watered but not soaked. According to how hot your summers are you may need to water twice a week or in other areas, every day. The old reliable method is to stick your finger in the ground about 2 inches deep at the base of plants (don't disturb roots) and if your finger is dry, water. If your finger is moist, do not water.


Unlike most plants, beans produce nitrogen and add to the soil instead of taking nitrogen from the soil. Therefore beans should be fertilized with a low nitrogen fertilizer. Fertilizer packaging uses a universal, three number code for nutrients. The first number is nitrogen, second is phosphorus and the third potassium. Look for a low-nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10.

Fertilize pole beans once when the plants start climbing the poles. Fertilize bush beans when you see the first blossom on any of the plants.


Green beans may be attacked by a variety of pests and diseases some of which are beetles, aphids, snails and slugs, powdery mildew and Bean mosaic virus. For all crawling insects we prefer Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE). Be sure to get FOOD GRADE. Other DE contains additives that are harmful to wild life and we choose not to put poisons in our garden where we grow vegetables we intend to eat.

Food grade DE is harmless to wild life, pets and you. It can be difficult to find but is generally available at most health food and natural food stores or online at Amazon.

For pest, such as aphids, that fly and are on the leaves of plants we just use a mild stream of water from the hose every 2 or 3 days and find we have little problem with aphids.