Beans are a warm weather crop that generally produce large crops. Beans tend to be popular with home gardeners because they require little care. Although bush-type beans and pole-type varieties have a great many things in common, there are a few differences, too. Understanding the pros and cons of each will make the choice an easier one to make.
Both pole and bush beans prefer warm temperatures and should be sown outdoors when soil temperatures measured at a depth of 4 inches are 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Sowing depth for both is 1 inch. Spacing differs, though, because pole beans require more room. Bush beans can be planted 2 to 4 inches apart in rows that are spaced 2 to 3 feet apart. Pole beans should be planted in hills 6 to 10 inches apart in rows spaced 3 to 4 feet apart.
Pole beans require trellises to support the plant. Stakes of 6 to 7 feet can be arranged and secured in a tripod fashion to support bean plants as they emerge. Another method it to secure two 7-foot poles, one at either end of the row, and string the poles back and forth with rows of coarse rope, then train the bean vines to grow up and through the rope trellis. Bush beans need no support and will reach a mature height of about 2 to 3 feet.
Both types are ready to harvest 55 to 60 days after planting, depending on the variety of bean planted. Bush beans will produce one crop and then the plants will die away. Successive plantings should be done every 7 to 14 days to have continuous production. Pole beans produce continually so only spring and fall plantings are needed. As you harvest pole beans, it stimulates the production of more beans. It is recommended that beans be harvested daily from both types. Picking beans from upright trellises is easier on the back than stooping to pick them from bushes.
There is no difference in how bush beans or pole beans are preserved. Either can be frozen, dried or canned. Frozen beans should be blanched first. Because of the low-acid content of beans, they must be canned with a pressure canner. Dried beans are first blanched, and then arranged on a dehydrator tray before being placed in the freezer for 3 minutes. Remove them from the freezer and place them on the dehydrator for 8 to 10 hours until dry. Store in sealed plastic bags or glass jars. The difference in taste between pole beans and bush beans is subjective and is a matter of personal preference.
Bush beans and pole beans are equally susceptible to anthracnose, bean mosaic virus, bacterial bean blight and bean rust. Anthracnose is a fungus that leaves red, brown or black spots on leaves and mold on pods or seeds. Bean mosaic virus is spread by aphids and causes leaves to curl under and pods to become deformed. Bean rust causes rust-colored spots on the underside of leaves, followed by the yellowing and dropping of leaves. Bacterial blight leaves water-soaked-looking marks on pods or yellow and brown spots on leaves. Disease-resistant seed varieties of bush or pole beans are the best way of combating these diseases.