Growing Green Beans
Plant green beans any time after the threat of frost is passed when the soil starts to warm. Plant in fertile, well-drained soil in a location that gets at least eight hours of sun per day. The spacing depends on what type of bean you plant. There are dozens of good bean varieties. You can even choose bean types that are purple or yellow instead of green.
Once your green beans produce flowers, it's a matter of days before beans are formed. Harvest the green beans while the inside seeds are immature. If you wait, the exterior of the bean will be tough and stringy. Another reason to keep the green beans harvested is because waiting reduces your yields. As long as the bean stays on the plant, the plant will think it is growing new seeds to reproduce itself. If you pick the bean, it will flower and grow a new one.
Green beans need regular water during the growing season, approximately 1 to 2 inches per week in the form of rain or supplemental watering. Avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
Planting Pole Beans
Pole beans get their moniker because they grow on long vines that reach 6 to 7 feet tall that need support from a tripod or trellis. Pole beans tend to supply a slow and steady stream of green beans throughout the growing season (about five to six weeks).
Construct the support system first, then plant below it. Below a trellis, plant green bean seeds 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart. Below tripod poles, plant four to six seeds about 4 inches from each pole. When the seeds emerge, remove the weakest ones, leaving the best three or four seeds to grow.
You can get creative with pole bean structures, using them as fun places for kids to play as well as supports for growing.
Planting Bush Beans
Bush green beans are shorter and bushier, reaching 1 to 2 feet tall. Plant bush bean seeds about 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. When seedlings emerge, thin to the best plants spaced 3 to 4 inches apart. Bush beans planted at the same time grow and produce a harvest at the same time over a two- or three-week period. For a continuous crop of bush beans, plant a few bean seeds every week until late summer.
Do String Beans Have Strings? Do Beans Snap?
Early varieties of green beans usually grew tough membranes or "strings" that ran down the center of the pods' seams. Today's green beans have been bred to be stringless and tender. Lucky us!
As to whether they snap, yes, green beans should be crisp and filled with enough moisture so that when the pods are broken apart by hand you hear a little snapping sound.
How to Grow French Green Beans
French green beans, also called haricots verts or filet beans, are known for pencil-slim pods. Perhaps in part because of their slender profile, these green beans taste extra tender.
If you only have room for a planter or pot, grow 'Mascotte', the 2014 All-America Selections winner. The green bean plants reach only about 16 to 18 inches tall and 8 to 10 inches wide. Plant these beans in a windowbox, sowing three to four seeds in each hole and spacing about a foot apart, or in a round container with three to four seeds in each hole 4 inches apart. In the garden, plant seeds individually 2 to 3 inches apart in rows a foot apart. Stagger the harvest by planting seeds every two weeks until midsummer.
How to Grow Chinese Green Beans
Chinese green beans -- also called long beans, asparagus beans, yard-long beans, and noodle beans -- are not really green beans! They are legume cousins of green beans.
No matter what you call them, they are equally easy to plant and enjoy. In spring after all threat of frost is passed, sow the seeds about 1 to 2 inches deep in rows 4 to 6 feet apart. At planting time, install a 6-foot trellis for the long vines, which can reach 9 to 12 feet, to climb upon.
Harvest the beans before the bean pods are entirely filled unless you are growing the beans in order to harvest seeds for the following year. The texture of long beans is different from that of green beans. Try them sauteed but not boiled.
Cooking Green Beans
Green beans are veggie powerhouses! One serving -- 3/4 cup -- is only 20 calories but provides 10 percent of your daily amount of Vitamin C, plus Vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
Green beans retain their best quality and nutrition when used shortly after harvest but can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.