Green beans plants come in two basic varieties: pole beans and bush beans. Pole beans produce tall, vine-type plants that need support, while bush beans or Phaseolus vulgaris grow on short, bushy plants that do not require support. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Bush Bean Plants
Green bean bush plants begin as a bean seed and will germinate in seven to 10 days once planted, providing the average temperature stays at or above 65 degrees. Seeds are planted about 1 inch deep and spaced 4 inches apart in a row, while rows should be about 8 inches apart. Seedlings emerge seven to 10 days after planting and continue growing to a height of 18 to 36 inches. White flowers emerge followed by tiny pods that develop into beans. Foliage is a lush, medium green.
Growing Bush Beans
Very little water is needed at planting time. The amount is gradually increased as the bush grows and should be heavily supplied during the weeks of harvest. Beans do not do well in cold temperatures and should not be planted until all danger of frost has passed. They prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Bush beans produce pods in about 58 days, and the harvest time lasts only a couple of weeks. Successive plantings can increase the length of harvest time. Stagger plantings by two weeks to ensure a steady supply of beans. Once the production is complete, the bush will die back, unlike pole beans, which continue to produce as long you continue to harvest. Pods should be picked when they are about ¼ to 3/8 in diameter.
Using Bush Beans
Bush beans can be picked, cleaned, cooked and eaten straight from the garden. To preserve them for later use, beans can be frozen, canned or dried. Some pods can be left to dry on the plant. Once dried, they can be shelled and the beans saved to be used as seed stock for next year’s garden. Once the bean seeds are completely dried, they can be stored for up to five years.
Bush beans, like most other bean plants, thrive in soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 that are well-drained. If the pH is low, an additive of lime will improve the soil pH. To limit the danger of soil-borne diseases, bean crops should be rotated every three to four years. Another way to enhance the soil’s nutrients is to plant winter crops such as alfalfa or rye and turn them under in the spring.
Bush Bean Pests and Diseases
Common disease that affect bush bean plants are bacterial blight, bean common mosaic virus and white mold. Adequate spacing helps avoid these problems. Avoid wetting the foliage and water early in the day to allow drying time. With mosaic virus, remove the entire infected plant. Plant disease resistant varieties.
Mexican bean beetles, aphids, leafhoppers, seed corn maggot and spider mites are among the pests that can decimate bush bean plants. Spider mites and aphids can be washed away with a steady stream of cold water given early in the day. There is no way to treat leafhoppers, and the plant should be destroyed. Mexican beetles should be handpicked from the plants and destroyed. Seed corn maggots are attracted to rich organic matter such as manure, so avoid this. Buying seed that is insecticide-treated can help.