Pole beans (Phaeolus vulgaris) are prolific producers of large, tasty beans. The plants have a long harvesting period and a high yield, making them very commercially valuable and also a favorite plant of home gardeners. In fact, beans are second only in popularity with home gardeners to tomatoes, according to the University of Illinois. These popular, healthy vegetables are also relatively easy to cultivate and harvest, making them a terrific choice for the beginning or experienced home gardener alike.
Plant pole beans in the spring, when all danger of frost has passed in your area. Press individual seeds an inch into the soil about 4 inches apart. Space rows of seeds about 4 feet apart. The best time to plant is before a heavy rain. Alternately, water the seeds directly after planting them. Do not saturate the soil, however, and do not soak the seeds before planting. Too much water can make the seeds crack open prematurely, according to the University of Illinois.
These beans have shallow roots, so make sure the planting site stays weed-free. Keep the soil moist (about an inch of water per week) or the pods will be deformed, according to North Carolina State University. Pole beans need support, because they grow on runners, so insert stakes into the ground. They should be 6 feet tall and placed every 15 feet or so along the row. Then, stretch a 10-gauge wire from pole to pole. Place a wire at the top of the poles and 6 inches above the ground. Finally, use a length of twine to "criss-cross" the area between the wires. This will give something for the beans to climb on.
Harvest between 60 and 70 days after you seed. You can harvest pole beans up to 10 times, depending on your crop, with about four days between each harvest. Simply pluck the beans off the vine. Do not wait too long to harvest them or the pods will get tough.
Pole beans are plagued by several common garden pests, including fruit worms, spider mites, rust and beetles. Insecticides can be effective depending on the level of infestation. Apply according to the directions on the label, based on the size of your crop. Viruses such as mosaic disease cannot be treated, but prevent viruses by avoiding planting your beans in any area of the garden that has previously held infected vegetables.
"Kentucky Blue" is an All-American Selection winner, according to the University of Illinois, for its 7-inch, plump pods. These pole beans harvest in 65 days. "Dade" is the most popularly grown variety and is somewhat resistant to mosaic disease and rust. This bean produces in 60 days with 8-inch, smooth pods.