It is time to start thinking about planting beans in your family vegetable garden. Here in the Bluegrass Region, many people have already started this job and are seeing tiny results for their effort.
Beans grown for the pod – green snap beans – are the most common type of bean a home gardener will grow. Some beans are also grown just for the bean itself and not the pod. Lima beans and soybeans are also popular beans grown in the home garden.
The bush type of snap beans is the most popular because they mature early and require less space. Pole beans require some type of trellis device – stakes, fence, etc. – for support. They also require a few more days to mature their pods and they will continue to bear over a longer period than bush beans.
Beans grow with little care and produce an abundance of pods. They also add nitrogen to the soil, making them ideal plants for organic vegetable gardens. Be sure to select varieties that will mature within your growing season and thrive in your region’s conditions.
Choose a spot that is sunny most of the day. The soil should be well drained or the bean seeds can rot before germination occurs. Sow bean seeds directly into your garden – beans get off to a better start if the soil is at least 60°F. Plant bush snap beans in rows 24 to 30 inches apart and plant the seeds 2 to 3 inches apart and 1 inch deep. Plant pole beans 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 26 to 48 inches apart. Plant bush bean and pole varieties every 2 to 3 weeks until 60 days before the first expected fall frost.
Keep the soil moist but not wet and do not wet the leaves when watering because it can encourage rust or other fungal diseases.
When snap beans are ready to be picked, they snap in half easily and you can see outlines of the bean inside. Pick filet beans before they reach a pencil thickness and harvest shell beans and roma beans when the seeds have reached full size, but before the pods begin to dry.
Beans are perfect for your home organic garden. Not only are they easy to grow, there are multitudes of types and varieties sure to please just about anyone, and the health benefits are enormous.
Beans are loaded with protein your body needs.
Beans are an excellent source of “good” carbohydrates ands a great source of iron and calcium.
With fiber galore, beans aid the digestion process. 1 serving of pinto beans has 1/2of your daily fiber needs.
Beans slow the rise in blood sugar after a meal, they make a great choice for diabetics.
Beans come in two basic edible types:
Snap or green beans
Dry or shell beans
Snap – Snap beans, also called green or yellow wax beans, are the beans most people think of growing in their home garden. Snap beans are so tender, fresh and crispy that you’ll be tempted to eat them straight from the plant. Some popular varieties of these include Kentucky Wonder, Yellow Wax, Blue Lake, Kentucky Blue, and the French “haricort vert” varieties. Haricort vert simply means “beans, green” in French.
Dry or Shell – The beans in this category mature on the plant and dry in their pods. They must be shelled and allowed to dry. Dry beans include pintos, Great Northern, Black, Jacobs Cattle, and kidney, among others. These are perfect for bean soups, refried, and baked beans.
Beans grow either as a bush variety or a vine/climbing variety. The climbing variety will need a pole, fence, trellis type of structure to cling to, while the bush variety doesn’t require any support.
Most beans hate cold weather and will rot in cold soil, so wait until all danger of frost has passed. Here in the Madison area, that usually means planting beans about the end of May in full sun. You can find packages of bean seeds at local shops such as Kleins Greenhouse on East Washington, Johannsens on Troy Drive, or either of the two Willy Street Co Ops. Be sure to check the package to determine if it is a bush or climbing type to determine if you need to provide support to the vines. Also try to determine ahead of time how much you will need and if you plan on replanting extra, as later in the season it may be hard to find additional seed.
Most bush bean seeds should be planted about 2-3 inches apart then after they germinate, thin to about 4-6 inches apart. Climbing beans need a bit more space but make up for it by growing upward. Plant these about 8-10 inches apart and then thin to about 12 inches apart. Another cool thing about beans, in the garden, they fix nitrogen from the air, which adds to the fertility of your soil.
Plan to plant more beans about every two weeks to ensure an ongoing, good supply. Snap beans must be harvested before their pods begin to harden and become tough. If they start to mature in the pod, that will slow down flowering.
If you are growing dry bean varieties like great northern, kidney, pinto and other soup type beans, these types need to stay on the plant until they are fully mature on the plant then pick, shell and then dry. The pods will be like a beige brown and very brittle.
Harvest or work in the bean section of your garden when the bean foliage is dry, so as not to spread rust. They are shallow rooted so weed and cultivate carefully so as not to disturb the bean plants.
There are two main types of onions in the Bluegrass Region: American (pungent flavor) and foreign (mild flavor). Each type comes in three colors: yellow, white and red. The American onions produce bulbs of smaller size, denser texture and stronger flavor, which story great.
For green onions, use sets, seeds or transplants for spring plant. For fall planting use perennial tree and potato onion sets. Onions that keep well in storage are globe types. Glob v varieties are yellow, red and white and are grown from seeds.
Spring planted sets are popular and should be placed 1 to 2 inches apart and 2 inches deep. Rows should be 12 to 18 inches apart, or you can use square foot gardening for closer planting. Avoid large sets in spring plantings. Larger sets are likely to produce seed stalks. Divide the onion sets into two sizes before planting. Large sets (bigger than a dime) are best used for green onions. The smaller sets produce the best bulbs for large, dry onions.
Sets of perennial tree or potato onion sets should be harvested in late October or early November. Fall planted sets should be spaced 4 inches apart in rows 1 to 2 feet apart. Onions are shallow-rooted and compete poorly with weeds grasses, so keep the bed well-weeded.