Growing beans rewards the home gardener with relatively easy, productive plants that yield tasty vegetables or dried beans, add nitrogen to the soil and even boast showy blossoms. Their amazing variety ensures that whatever your spacing needs, harvest schedule or taste preference, there's a bean for you. A few simple precautions should ensure the smooth transition from humble bean seed to vigorous, high-yielding veggie patch star.
The average home gardener needn't worry about fungicide because seed companies treat bean seeds prior to sale. But check the seed description to make sure this crucial step has been taken. Fledgling beans face the risk of rotting in damp soil or being attacked by unseen fungi lurking in the ground, so the seeds are routinely dusted with a fungicide and bactericide. If you like to save and use your own vegetable seeds, or are buying bean seeds in bulk for a huge field crop, consider purchasing an organic fungicidal powder made especially for legumes.
Good Soil Conditions
Because bean seeds rot if planted in cold or wet conditions, good soil structure becomes especially important during the germination process. A raised bed or container works well if you only plan a limited number of bean plants. In general, whatever you can do to lighten the soil and provide good drainage will keep the seeds warm, dry and happy. That top inch or two of soil becomes especially important to allow seedlings to break through the surface. Rake or cultivate soil that feels crusty or clumpy. Beans prefer a neutral to slightly acid pH level, so make sure your soil test indicates a level 6 or 7.
Proper Planting Depth and Spacing
Bean seeds can go directly into the ground, rather than needing an indoor jump start. Plant most bean seeds 1.5 to 2 inches deep, unless you plan an extra--somewhat risky--jump on the season. Early bean planting necessitates keeping the seed slightly closer to the warm surface. Whether you're planting pole or bush beans, the seeds need to be at least 4 inches apart. If planting pole or "half high" beans, leave about 6 inches between the seeds and the support structure itself.
Plant bean seeds where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight. This ensures the warm ground they need to begin unfurling from the seed stage, and the dry conditions to prevent rotting. A site with full sun ensures that the mature plants will produce a large number of beans.
Water bean seeds as soon as you plant them. Aim for a moist but not waterlogged soil surface. Keep this balance going during the week or so it takes the seedlings to germinate. Throughout their growing season, beans need steady but not lush watering. Too much and their roots will rot or the whole plant will become disease-ridden; too little and they'll fail to produce beans. A light mulch helps keep the moisture level balanced.