How to Grow Pole Beans

Overview

A "pole bean" is the classification given to any number of vining bean plants, as opposed to bush beans that don't grow vine-like tendrils. The plants' vertical nature makes them ideal for space-conscious gardeners who want beans but don't want to take up precious square footage. Pole beans are hardy and productive within a couple months. Enjoy your own bean bounty by growing pole beans at home.

Step 1

Choose the type of pole bean you want to grow. There are several options, such as the 'Blue Lake and 'Kentucky Wonder.' Compare labels on seed packets to see what characteristics vary--some types have shorter harvest times or produce larger pods--or ask a specialist at a nursery in your area for suggestions on what varieties do well in your area.

Step 2

Prepare the ground. Select an area of your garden that receives full sunlight. Clear away surface debris and vegetation. Use a spade, hoe or rake to breakup the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Mix in an inch of peat moss or compost to boost the soil's drainage and organic content.

Step 3

Sow the pole bean seeds. Sink each bean seed an inch below the soil by placing it on the soil's surface and pushing down to the required depth. Space each seed 4 inches apart. If you're planting more than one row of beans, separate each row by 2 feet.

Step 4

Water the bean seeds twice a day to keep the soil moist until seed germination. The pole beans should sprout within two weeks.

Step 5

Provide support for each pole bean plant. Pound a series of tall, sturdy stakes into the ground behind your row of beans. Use garden twine strung between the poles to create a support that the vines can wrap around as they grow. As the pole beans start to grow, guide their tendrils around the string to train them onto the structure. Once trained, the pole beans will naturally climb up the trellis.

Step 6

Maintain the pole bean plants. Water as needed in your area to keep the plants green and lush. Once the pole bean plants are 6 inches tall, add an inch of mulch around the plants. This conserves soil moisture and helps to keep weeds at bay.

Step 7

Harvest your beans. Most pole bean varieties will begin producing flowers and fruit within their first month of growth and are ready for harvesting within 50 to 60 days of planting. A bean is ready to be picked when it is crisp and firm to the touch, but before its inner seeds have fully formed into hard masses.

Tips and Warnings

  • All bean varieties are sensitive to cold winter temperatures. Wait to plant your pole beans after the last frost in your area--the Farmers' Almanac.com keeps an updated list of average frost dates throughout the country--or your beans may die shortly after germination.

Things You'll Need

  • Pole bean seeds
  • Standard garden tools (e.g. spade, hoe and garden fork)
  • Peat moss or compost
  • 8-foot metal or wood garden stakes
  • Garden twine
  • Mulch

References

  • "American Horticultural Society A-to-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants;" Christopher Brickell; 2004
  • "The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control;" Barbara Ellis and Fern Bradley; 1996
  • University of Illinois Extension: Beans

Who Can Help

  • Farmers' Almanac: Average Frost Dates
Keywords: grow pole beans, plant pole beans, raise pole beans

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.