Beans are a warm-season vegetable that is grown is many home vegetable gardens. Beans either grown on vines that reach up to 6 feet tall, or they grow in a more compact bush form. Like all vegetables, beans have soil and nutrition requirements, as well as the need for other materials to grow a successful crop that are more specific to beans.
Beans and other legumes produce their own nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is a required nutrient for most plants that encourages healthy foliage growth. In order to produce the nitrogen, the bean roots require Rhizobium bacteria. Many garden bean seeds are sold pre-inoculated, and this is specified on the seed packet. For non-inoculated seeds, purchase bean-inoculate at garden centers or directly from the seed supplier. The inoculate comes in a powdered form, allowing you to coat the bean seeds prior to planting.
Fertilizer and Soil Amendments
Beans have minimal fertilizer needs compared to other warm-season vegetables, partially due to their ability to fix their own nitrogen. An application of 5-10-10 analysis fertilizer at the time of planting is sufficient in most areas. If the leaves of the plants begin yellowing at mid-season, a second application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer is beneficial.
Organic matter also aids the growth of the bean plants. Compost, whether it is home composted materials or a purchased compost, adds nutrients to the bed while also aiding drainage. Beans do not tolerate soggy soils so composting the beds is particular necessary in clay soils.
Only vine bean varieties require support, as bush beans are compact enough to grow well without stakes or trellises. Beans are self-twining and do not require tying to the support system. Six-foot tall bamboo poles are inexpensive and readily available. Tie three of these poles together at the top and spread the bottoms to form a bean teepee. The beans are planted at the base of each pole. Other support systems include trellises or bean netting stretched between two posts placed at either end of the bean row.
The shallow roots of the bean plant make them susceptible to weeds. Deep cultivation damages the roots and is not a suitable method of weed control. A hoe or small hand cultivator is useful to break up the top 1-inch of the soil. This prevents weed seeds from germinating successfully while also not disturbing the bean roots.
Another material that prevents weeds in bean gardens is mulch. Black plastic mulch laid over the bed prior to planting keeps the soil warm and inhibits nearly all weed growth. Straw or bark mulch spread over the bed after the bean plants are 5 to 6 inches tall preserves soil moisture while preventing many weeds, so that some hand weeding is still necessary.