Not only are pole beans fast-growing and easy to maintain, but their pods are also high in nutrients, according to Purdue University. The plants' vertical nature also makes them ideal for small gardens with limited amounts of horizontal planting surface. Several general care and management tips can help you maximize your pole bean plants' health, and thereby boost your bean harvest.
Pole beans grow best in full sun. Though the vines can handle some shade, anything less than full sun will cause slower vine growth and poor bean pod output, according to Cornell University.
Pole beans thrive in well-drained, fertile soil, according to Purdue University. Breakup the dirt with a spade and stir in 3 to 4 inches of compost. Compost helps improve drainage and adds nutrients while increasing soil moisture retention. Follow the compost with a 5-10-10 granular vegetable fertilizer. Purdue University suggests mixing 1 cup of the fertilizer along every 50 feet of your row of beans.
Beans are very cold sensitive and should only be planted several weeks after the last frost date in your region, according to the University of Illinois. For optimal germination rates, wait until the soil temperature ranges between 70 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Cornell University.
Unlike bush beans, pole beans require a trellis or similar structure to support their vine growth. North Carolina University recommends building your own trellis along your row of beans. Pound two 5-foot-tall wood or metal stakes into the dirt on either side of your pole bean row, separated by a maximum of 15 feet. If your row is longer, set up several stake pairs. Tightly tie wire--the university recommends 10 gauge wire--between the stakes, with one wire at the top and one wire suspended 2 inches above the soil surface. String twine or rope between the two wires to create a vertical column, placing one rope or twine column next to every bean plant.
Unlike many seed varieties, don't soak pole bean seeds before planting. Doing so will damage the bean seeds, according to Cornell University.
Pick your bean pods as soon as they're ready instead of waiting to pick all of them at once. This encourages the vine to continue producing bean pods and flowers. The pods are ready when they're several inches long, firm to the touch and bulging with visible beans. For the freshest and highest quality harvest, pick your beans in the morning as soon as the dew has burned off of the plant, according to the University of Illinois.