Beans are tender, warm season vegetables and come in two forms: bush and pole. Bush beans grow upright without a support. Pole beans require some sort of support to stay upright. All bean plants are sensitive to frost and are planted after all danger of spring frost has past. All bean plants are susceptible to bean mosaic disease and bacterial bean blight. Contact with wet bean plants tends to spread these diseases. Planting bean crops four to six weeks apart enables a gardener to have a constant supply of fresh beans all summer long.
Fava beans (Vicia faba) enjoy cool temperatures. They cannot handle temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit while in flower. Plant fava beans in the early spring in moist soil. Fava beans form a sturdy, upright bush. This bean takes 80 to 120 days until ready to harvest. Pick while the pods are still green when the beans start to swell in the pod. Shell and remove the whitish outer bean coating before cooking. Fava beans should only be planted in the same plot once every four years.
Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) need warm soil temperatures, good sunny weather and a long growing season of 80 to 95 days. Lima beans are available in bush and pole form. This bean prefers sandy soil. When harvesting for fresh use, pick when the bean pods bulge with the shape of the lima bean. Otherwise, allow the bean pods to dry completely on the bush. Always cook this buttery-tasting bean before eating.
Scarlet Runner Beans
Scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) produce vines that are 12 to 15 feet long that need the support of a pole, fence or trellis. This variety of bean grows abundant red, pink or bicolor blossoms. Harvest the beans while the pods are 4 to 6 inches long. Scarlet runner beans are used as a substitute for lima beans. This plant is often grown as an ornamental in hummingbird gardens.
Soybeans (Glycine max) are also known as edamame. This upright bush bean grows 3 feet tall. Harvest soybeans when the bean bulges in the green pod. Boil while the beans are still in the pod. Shell the soybeans after cooking. Do not eat soybeans raw. Rabbit and woodchucks like to eat soybeans so you may have to put a fence around your bean patch.
Yard Long Beans
Yard long beans (Vigna unguiculata) are a popular bean served in Asian dishes. This bean needs warm weather in order to form pods. Yard long beans will suffer injury when temperatures drop down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The 9 to 12 foot bean vine needs support to stay upright. The bean pods reach 36 inches long. Harvest yard long beans when the pods are long, tender and barely puffy looking before the seeds swell. Yard long beans are used as snap beans.