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How To Grow Green Beans

How To Grow Green Beans

Learning How to Grow Green Beans is a super important garden skill.  Green beans (some times called runner beans or String Beans) are one of the highlights of a summer garden. Beans are high in fiber, low in calories and are a good source of vitamin C. But beyond the nutritional benefits of home grown beans is their superior taste!!

The beans you buy in a store (weather fresh, frozen or canned) are breed for once reason, and that reason is to allow them to be processed easily! Commercial plant breeders are not really fussed with taste, they just want them to ship and process easily!!

Not so with garden grown beans. These are one of the tasty high points of the summer garden for me!! Although you usually hear them called “green” beans, the colors definitely don’t have to be limited to green! There are several shades of purple available out there along with several different colors of yellow (often called wax beans). Varieties include slender French style beans, string-less varieties, even yard long beans! So the sky is the limit with this fantastic summer time crop!

Let’s take a look at what types of green beans there are out there and how to grow green beans!

Varieties

There are two primary types of green beans: pole or bush. Let’s talk about each.

Bush Beans

Bush beans are compact plants that grow between 1 to 2 feet tall. The main advantage of bush beans is how quickly they produce. Many varieties will start producing in as little as 60 days. This is great because you can plant very late in the year and still get a harvest! Many years I plant bush beans as late as July 15th (that’s only about 75 days before our first frost) and still get a super good harvest. The average bush bean variety will produce 10 t 14 days sooner than a pole bean.

How to Grow Green Beans #2

Another advantage of bush beans is the huge variety of colors and sizes they come in! There are easily 50 different types of bush beans in colors ranging green to yellow to purple! It is very easy to tuck a few bush beans into an out of the way (but sunny) corner of your garden. Some years we have bean scattered all over the place.

The biggest disadvantage of bush beans is how much you can harvest from them. Expect to get only 60% of the harvest in the same space from bush beans than what you would expect from a pole variety. The harvest from bush beans also doesn’t last nearly as long either. Only about 3 weeks per plant.

Pole Beans

Pole beans get their name from the fact that they need a “pole” to grow on. Pole beans grow vines that can be as long as 8 to 10 feet and those vines need support. The traditional method is to use tall wooden poles that the beans will climb up, hence the name pole bean. But really any form of trellis will work well for growing pole beans.

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The main advantage of pole beans is the increased harvest per plant. As I stated earlier the ration is around 60% for bush beans. So a spot that grows 10 pounds of pole beans, would grow around 6 pounds of bush beans. Also for those of you with back problems, you will love not having to bend over to pick pole beans.

I also think that having trellises of pole beans adds an huge amount of visual interest to a garden. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love to see a pretty trellis covered in vines, flowers and beans. Bean trellises turn another wise bland garden, into a fun, interesting feature of your yard.

Planting Beans

The best soil for beans is fertile well drained soil with a PH of between 6 and 7, but don’t let your soil conditions stop you, beans are pretty hardy and will do well in most soil types. But if you can I would suggest amending the soil before hand with some organic material, like a good rich compost.

Beans are a warm season crop and cannot tolerate frost. So it is important to hold off on planting until all worries of frost are gone. Beans also need a soil temperature of at least 60 degrees to germinate but would prefer 70. You can test this buy purchasing a simple and inexpensive Soil Themometer . Covering your bed with plastic for a week or two before planting can quickly bring the soil temperature up as well.

How to Grow Green Beans #8

Both bush and pole beans do best if seeds are directly sown in the soil. You can start your seeds indoors and transplant out, but in all but the coldest climates this is over kill. Beans do just fine being planted directly in the soil and allowed to germinate outdoors.

Sun is a must for beans. Choose a sunny spot that gets at least 8 hours of sun, but they will do much better if you choose a spot with 10 to 12 hours of sun in the summer time.

Plant seeds 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep and roughly 2 inches a part, once the seeds are germinated it may be necessary to thin bush beans to about 4 inches apart and pole beans to about 6 inches.

Beans are the perfect crop to succession plant! Planting a small amount of beans every 2 weeks until mid summer (About 60 to 75 days before your first fall frost) will ensure a continuous supply of fresh beans all summer long!!

Beans are also a great crop to consider inter-planting with other crops. Try radishes, carrots or even lettuce to help utilize the extra space.

Care while Growing

Beans are fairly easy for most of us to care for. Once the plants are up a few inches, it is a good idea to thin if needed. Usually around 4 inches between plants is sufficient, I have found a few places that recommend 6 inches for pole beans, but I have found four inches to be plenty.

Beans are fairly drought tolerant, but they will produce much better if they are kept moist while the plants are flowering and the beans are growing. So plan on giving them some water. Some times you will notice that your beans are a bit “stringy”, meaning that when you eat them they have long fibrous “strings” running through the bean. Most modern varieties of beans are fairly string-less so if you notice stringiness that means the plants may be suffering from heat stress. Try increasing the amount of water you are giving them, and consider mulching around the base of the plants to help keep them cool.

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Always try to water in the morning, this is especially the case if you are using overhead watering (sprinklers). Moisture on the leaves can promote disease issues, so if you water during the day the leaves will dry out faster.

Many soil borne diseases can be transmitted when the soil “splashes” on to the leaves. This can be prevented (or at least minimized) by mulching around the plant. That will keep splashing to a minimum and will also help keep the soil cool and help the soil to not dry out as quickly. Drip irrigation along with mulching almost eliminates soil splash, so if you can use a drip system.

Beans have a fairly shallow root system, so you need to be very careful when you are cultivating the soil around the plants. I would suggest pulling weeds by hand versus using a hoe around bean plants.

Beans really don’t need much in the way of fertilizer. If you are taking care of your garden soil each year by adding compost and other organic mater you really shouldn’t need to add fertilizer.

In fact beans have the amazing ability to pull nitrogen from the air and “fix” it in their root system. Because of this I never pull up the roots of my bean plants. At the end of the season I simply cut the plants off at ground level leaving the roots in the ground. In most gardens you will find the soil richer and improved after planting beans. What ever crop I plant the year following a bean crop does extra well because of the added nitrogen in the soil.

Harvesting

You know your harvest is on the way once you see flowers setting on your bean plants. Shortly after you see flowers you will start to see tiny little beans growing. Keep a close eye on them, they will grow quicker than you might think!

Pick beans while they are still young and tender. You should pick them before seeds start forming inside the pod, while they are still slender and tender.

How to Grow Green Beans #5

Pick often! The more you pick the more beans the plants will produce. Avoid letting any of your beans get too large and start developing seeds inside the pod. This seed development signals the plants to focus on growing the seeds, so they will stop producing additional flowers and more beans. I would suggest that you pick your beans daily, that way none of the beans get away from you and slow down your production.

Most bush beans will have a harvest period of around 3 weeks from the first beans to the last bean picked. Pole beans on the other hand if managed correctly will produce for as long as 8 weeks! So keep after that harvesting, the more beans you harvest (and the sooner) the more you will ultimately have!

Most of the official University sites tell us that you can expect 75 pounds of beans per 100 feet of plants from Bush beans and 125 pounds per 100 feet for pole beans. I’ve always found those types of numbers a little worthless because I don’t have 100 feet to plant!!! But I have found that a 4 x 8 foot bed of bush beans will give you around 20 pounds of beans, the same bed planted with pole beans will give around 30 pounds.

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Fresh picked beans will last about 2 weeks in the fridge, that gives you a little time to eat them up or to build up enough supply to do some canning or freezing.

Preserving

Our favorite method of preserving beans is freezing. It is much quicker and a lot less work to do it that way!!

Here’s a link to our post on freezing green beans

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Canning is also a very popular method for preserving beans. But it is a lot more work and you MUST use a pressure canner to preserve them. Here are a few resources for canning green beans:

http://www.gracegardenandhomestead.com/how-to-can-green-beans/

http://www.growforagecookferment.com/lacto-fermented-dilly-beans/

http://commonsensehome.com/dilly-beans/

http://www.simplycanning.com/green-bean.html

http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-can-green-beans-pressure-canner/

http://foodstorageandsurvival.com/how-to-can-green-beans-the-illustrated-guide/

Beans can also be dried in a food dryer or freeze dryer. Here are a few links to posts from fellow bloggers on drying green beans:

http://www.simplycanning.com/dehydrating-green-beans.html

https://www.tenthacrefarm.com/2013/11/late-season-kitchen-activity/

http://foodstorageandsurvival.com/dehydrating-green-beans/

http://foodstorageandsurvival.com/using-and-cooking-with-dehydrated-green-beans/

 

From the Farm Hop – May 27, 2016

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It’s time for another round of From The Farm where we love to see your ideas on how to garden, homestead, or any DIY tips and tricks. Last Week’s Top 3 Favorites, as chosen by YOU:


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Warmly,Your From the Farm Blog Hop Co-Hosts: The Homesteading Hippy | The Homestead Lady | Once Upon A Time in A Bed of Wildflowers | Stony Acres

 

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Transplanting Raspberry Starts – Video Tip

Transplanting Raspberry Starts

Raspberries are one of the easiest garden fruit plants to move.  Transplanting Raspberry starts is pretty simple and if done in the early to mid spring is successful more than 75% of the time.  Because of the way raspberries grow they put up a lot of suckers all over the garden.  These suckers are simple to transplant where ever you would like in your garden.

This weeks gardening tip shows you how!!

 

Happy Gardening!!

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Growing Tomato Heaven – Our newest video course is here!!

It’s here!!! My latest online video course is finished!!! Whew!

Growing Tomato Heaven

Guys, I am super excited about this one!  Tomatoes are my favorite garden veggie and I had a BLAST filming this course!

Here’s the promo video!!

I’m running a launch special for all of my Stoney Acres Readers.  Here’s how it goes:

First 30 Students

The first 30 people that buy the course get the course for only $10.00

Next 30 Students

If that coupon is gone then the next 30 students use this one and get the course for just $12.00

Slow Pokes

When that coupon is gone you can still get the special price of only $15.00

Here’s a little more about the course:

There is nothing better than home grown, garden fresh tomatoes!! Close your eyes and picture the taste of the best tomato you have ever eaten.  The fresh warm juice dripping off your chin!!  Best of all you grew it yourself in your own backyard!!

Growing a great corp of tomatoes in your garden is easier than you think.  This course is designed to give you the skills you need to be successful your first time or your 50th time planting tomatoes in your garden!  Both the beginner and the expert will benefit from this in-depth look at tomato gardening!

This 90 minute course is a comprehensive look at how to grow your best crop of tomatoes ever.  Expert gardener Rick Stone takes you step by step through the basics of tomato gardening.  Starting out with a great tomato start, planting it just right, giving it the support and care it needs through the growing season will lead you to a tasty tomato heaven!

Weather you are growing many plants in a large garden for canning and preserving or just a few plants in containers on your balcony, Rick Stone will give you the practical knowledge you need.  Bushels of tasty garden goodness wait you at the end of this easy to follow course!

Topics covered:

  • Heirloom vs Hybrid Tomatoes
  • How to choose the best tomato starts to plant
  • When and how to plant your tomatoes
  • A great little garden hack that will get you planting 6 weeks early
  • Simple tricks to extent your harvest in the fall
  • Watering, fertilizing and caring for your growing plants
  • Using stakes or cages to support your plants
  • When to harvest for the best taste
  • Ideas for preserving your harvest

Like all Udemy courses, this one comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.  If for any reason you are not happy with the course, simply return it for a full refund.  BUT we are sure you are going to LOVE this course!

Welcome to Tomato Heaven!!

 

From The Farm Hop – May 6, 2016

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It’s time for another round of From The Farm where we love to see your ideas on how to garden, homestead, or any DIY tips and tricks. Last Week’s Top 3 Favorites, as chosen by YOU:

 
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Scroll Down for this week’s Party!

 

Warmly,Your From the Farm Blog Hop Co-Hosts: The Homesteading Hippy | The Homestead Lady | Once Upon A Time in A Bed of Wildflowers | Stony Acres

 

Grab the Badge

 

 
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A “Miner” Problem – Dealing with Leaf Miners in your garden

Dealing with leaf miners

Have you ever noticed the leaves on your spinach and Swiss chard turning yellow and wilting, combined with dark spots and paper thin spots on your leaves?  Years ago when we first started growing spinach and Swiss chard consistently this issue started showing up.  The first couple of years it really wasn’t a big problem so I kind of just ignored it, that was a BIG mistake.  It turns out the problem is one that is actually quite common in our area, Leaf Miners!!  Dealing with leaf miners in your garden can be a big challenge!

Dealing with Leaf Miners

Back in 2011 when I attended my Utah State University Master Gardener class we had an entire evening where the subject was Entomology (the study of insects).  This was perfect timing for me and I got my answer right in class.  Dealing with leaf miners is something many gardeners have to do.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

A leaf miner is actually the larval form of an adult bug that looks a lot like a small house fly.  If you look closely in the photo above you will see some small flies, these are the adult form of the insect.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

It is called a leaf “miner” because it actually burrows between the layers of the leaf and feeds inside the leaf, leavings a empty pocket behind.  Leaf miners are one of the top 10 pest insects of vegetables in our state.  Our variety of leaf miner is actually kind of boring.  They hollow out the entire leaf leaving two paper thin layers.  In some areas leaf miners are a little more interesting digging long fun tunnels in the leaves.  Google “photos of leaf miners” some time and you can see the interesting patterns some dig!

Dealing with Leaf Miners

You identify a leaf miner infestation by the large blotches in the leaves of spinach, beets, Swiss chard and other related plants.  The leaves will eventually dry up and die. Dealing with leaf miners is most difficult in plants you harvest solely for the leaves.  The problem is a little less major in plants like beets where you can eat the root as well.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

This is the aftermath of one leaf miner in this spinach leaf, I’ve separated the two halves of the leaf in this picture so you can see what they do.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

You can also find the actual larva inside the leaves.  Just pull off a leaf and feel around for a small lump.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

Here’s a shot of one I caught in the act!!

Dealing with Leaf Miners

Early identification can fix most problems.  Look at the underside of the leaves for small white eggs.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

Simply crush them to keep them from hatching.

Usually leaf miners only have a couple of generations per year and are more common in the spring.  But the conditions in my cold frames are ideal for them and they can have a second or third generation in the fall which is my current problem.

Spraying for these insects is not recommended.  That usually makes the problem worse by removing the beneficial insects that prey on the larva.  Usually the local predators can take care of your problem for you if you give them some help by practicing good cultural methods.  The following is a quick list of good cultural methods that will help you when you are dealing with leaf miners in your garden without spraying:

Crop Rotation – moving plating locations from year to year will help.  If the adult flies emerge next year and can’t find the plants it likes, the population will be greatly reduced.  I think this is my biggest problem.  Even though I rotate where my spinach and chard are planted each year the plantings are still quite close together.  The leaf miner is also more prevalent in areas where spinach is over wintered.

Sanitation – keeping the area clear of plant debris is important.  This is especially important with leaf miners.  As they overwinter in the soil.

Crop Destruction – removing the infected leaves is a good control for leaf miners, but be sure to remove them completely and destroy them.  Don’t put them in the compost bin.  I think this is another part of my problem.  Last year I didn’t know what the problem was and I will admit to just pulling some of the problem leaves off as I was harvesting and letting them lay in the bed.  This allows the larva to finish growing and move to the soil to over winter.  This year all the infected leaves are going straight to the chicken coop for a tasty snack for the chicks.  If you don’t have this options be sure to throw all the infected leaves away.

Crushing the Eggs – This can be a long tedious process if you have a big infestation.  Get out early and look for those eggs and crush them or scrape them off with your finger nail.

Uses a barrier – Another effective method for preventing infestations is covering the crop with the lightest weight of a fabric row cover material.  These light weight row covers will keep the pests out (in this case the adult “flies” that lay the eggs), with out blocking the sun for your growing plants.

Tillage – I’m not a big tiller because I don’t like what tilling does to the soil structure but in some cases, like this one, tilling will expose the bugs to the elements over the cold winter and help reduce the population.

 

So here’s my plan of action for dealing with leaf miners:  Each year I’m going to remove all the infected leaves and destroy them and hope the plants can recover and produce for me in early spring.  Each year I’m going to rotate all my spinach and related plants far out of the current growing area.  I’m also going to watch closer in the spring and fall for the tell tale white egg masses on the leaves and destroy them before they hatch.

 

If you would like more information on dealing with leaf miners you can read a great fact sheet published by Colorado State University by clicking on this link.

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05548.html

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Planting Tomatoes – Video Tip

Planting Tomatoes Thumbnail

This YouTube Gardening Tip has turned out to be one of my most popular videos ever!!  Planting tomatoes is easy to do.  All it requires is a tomato plant, a banana and and egg?????  Watch the video to see what the banana and egg are all about!!

I’ve sure had a lot of fun filming these gardening tips.  I hope you enjoy them and they help your garden out!

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel after you watch the video.  More subscribers, likes and shares help to spread these gardening tips all around the internet!!

 

Happy Gardening

Rick

 

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