Farmers and novice gardeners alike are fans of the bean plant (Phaseolus vulgaris). Bean plants are easy to grow, require little maintenance and produce crops faster than many other vegetables. There are two types of beans, pole and bush, and there are many varieties of each. Provide good soil, proper sunlight and basic care, and you'll soon be ready to grow your own successful bean crop.
Beans prefer a warm climate. Prepare soil with manure or compost before planting. Beans grow best in a near-neutral soil that is well-drained. Plant beans a week or two after the last frost in the spring. Choose a sunny location for your bean plants; they need at least six hours of full ,direct sunlight each day to grow properly. Bean plants will quickly grow to be 6 to 24 inches tall.
Plant bush bean seeds 2 to 3 inches apart and 1 inch deep. Space rows 18 to 36 inches apart. Be sure the area is sunny and that the soil is well drained. Lima bush beans are bigger plants and should be spaced 6 inches apart. Water beans regularly but allow soil to dry; beans don't like overly wet soil conditions. Beans should be ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days. For best flavor, pick your beans frequently while they are still slender. Bush beans make good companion plants for any vegetable except basil, fennel and those in the onion family.
Plant pole beans 2 inches deep in well-drained soil that is located in a sunny part of your garden. Grow pole beans along fences or erect tee-pees, trellises or poles for them to climb; they will need support once they have two to four leaves on their stem. Keep plants well watered if you've placed them against a shed or garden wall. Harvest beans regularly to allow plants to replenish. Scarlet Runner Pole beans produce a red flower if beans are continually harvested. Pole beans grow well alongside carrots, corn, peas and potatoes. Don't plant them around your cabbage or any members of the onion family.
Green beans are the most popular choice for gardeners. They adapt to any soil condition as long as it's well-drained, and they are available in both bush and pole types. Pick beans when they are are fully grown but don't allow them to over-ripen--the pods become tough, and the beans taste bitter.
Yellow wax beans come in the bush bean style and are similar to green beans but have a thinner skin, making them more tender. They have a more subtle flavor than the green bean. Yellow wax beans like well-drained soil and full sun and can be found in many states.
Lima beans, sometimes called butter beans, are available in bush and pole varieties. They are flat and round-shaped with a strong flavor. Lima beans should be planted at least a week or two later than other beans in your garden. They take longer to mature and are best grown in warmer climates.
Beans can be stored in several different ways. Green and yellow beans can be refrigerated for several weeks. You can blanch beans and then refrigerate or freeze them. Canning is another option if you have larger quantities of beans.
Dry beans must be completely dry before you store them; any moisture will cause the beans to mold. Place beans in a sunny spot and let them dry, then store them in tightly closed containers. If you don't want to dry them, you can shell and freeze them for future use.