Grow beans not just because they’re healthy and delicious – they’re also super very easy to grow. Beans are seeds from the Fabaceae family, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family.
I love beans because they are nutrient dense; high in fibre and starch plus a good source of protein, iron, and vitamins that offer so many health benefits. Beans are considered part of the vegetable food group, they may be further classified as a “starchy vegetable,” along with potatoes and squash / pumpkins.
Beans come in a number of varieties, but are largely categorised into two types: dwarf or climbing. Climbing beans need full sun and room to spread, so will need to be planted out in the garden. Dwarf beans are perfect for pots.
Planting Bean Seeds
Soak the bean seeds first overnight. This gets the germination process underway and gets rid of that tasty ‘dried food smell’ that creatures of the night like to raid in freshly seeded garden beds. Seeds should germinate in 4 – 8 days depending on the variety selected.
Bean plants need plenty of water, and this is especially true with the care of potted bean plants. You need to provide irrigation when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil is dry to the touch. Fertilize once a month with a soluble plant food or well rotted manure.
Types of Beans To Plant
Sow broad beans in November 3 in. deep, and again in February for succession. The autumn sown beans branch out, and should be given plenty of room, 1 ft. between each plant and 2 1/2 ft. between the rows.
The spring-sown need only 1 ft. 6 in. When the beans are well in bloom nearly to the top of the stalk, pinch out the tops; otherwise the tender tops will be attacked by black fly, which will spread downwards all over the plant and ruin it. Gather the beans before the eyes go black. As a catch crop, some people put beans here and there between the early potatoes — not between the rows. When the beans are all gathered, cut them off against the ground ; do not pull them up by the roots, as the roots have nodules of nitrogen which enrich the soil. The long-pod varieties are the most prolific.
Dwarf Kidney Beans
These must not be sown too early, or the young plants will be cut off by the frost. Sow in May, and about the third week of the month make a second sowing.
Set the beans 3 in. deep in rows 2 ft. apart. Thin out to 8 in. apart when they have three leaves. The beans must be gathered young to be at their peak of tastiness.
Runner beans are one of the most rewarding crops to grow. Sow in middle of May. Make two rows, 2 ft. 6 in. apart. As soon as the plants begin to run, stick them with stakes 5 ft. or 6 ft. long, making the sticks meet at the top of the two rows. If sticks are difficult to obtain, a good plan is to put a post with a cross-piece at the top and bottom and to stretch wires between them. From these wires attach vertical strings (binder twine is the most suitable and cheapest) for the beans to climb. Keep the crop closely gathered and the bearing period will be much prolonged.
Runner beans can be grown without sticks by pinching back the runners. They are grown this way in fields, but the beans are curved instead of straight and taste a bit ‘gritty’.
At the end of the day…
The great thing about beans is that they are part of the legume family and can capture nitrogen from the atmosphere, so when your plants are done for the season, dig them out and add to the compost heap or dig them into the garden bed.