Second only to the tomato in popularity in home gardens, according to the University of Illinois Extension, the green bean produces an abundant crop in a small space. Once referred to as the string bean, because older varieties developed a tough “string” along the seam of the pod, the green bean is often referred to as a snap bean. When harvested young, green beans are crisp and tender and can be boiled, steamed or sautéed for quick summer meals.
Select an area for green beans that receives six to eight hours of direct sun a day.
Test the soil to determine the available nutrients and pH level of the soil. Contact your local extension office for a soil test kit and follow the directions for gathering a soil sample. The extension office provides a detailed soil analysis with directions for amending the soil. Follow the instructions for amending the soil and adjust the pH to between 5.8 and 6.3.
Plant bean seeds in late spring once the danger of frost has passed in your area and the soil has warmed to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Beans germinate at 50 degrees, but are susceptible to rotting in cool damp soil.
Sow bean seeds to a depth of 1 inch in heavy soils and 1 ½ inches in sandy soils. Space 4 to 6 inches apart in rows spaced 18 to 24 inches apart.
Water deeply once a week to moisten the soil to the root level.
Side dress with a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, when pods begin to form, if foliage appears yellowed or plants show signs of inhibited growth. Sprinkle the fertilizer down the row 4 to 6 inches from the plants. Follow the application rate on the container. Work the fertilizer into the soil with a hoe.
Pull or cut weeds with the blade of the hoe to keep the area weed-free. Weeds compete with garden vegetables for water and nutrients and may introduce disease.
Harvest green beans when pods are 3 to 4 inches long. Pods should be slender with beans barely visible in the pod.