Centuries ago, Native Americans perfected an all-natural trellis system for pole beans by growing beans together with corn. The corn stalks provided support for the beans, maximizing crop productivity in a limited space. This planting combination is still useful today, according to Cornell University, and will save you the need of having to construct trellises for your pole bean vines.
Choose a planting site. Both corn and pole beans thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Providing less than full sun will result in less than optimal growth and vegetable production.
Prepare the planting site. Use a spade or mechanical tiller and break up the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Mix in 4 inches of compost to help the soil retain moisture. Fertilize the area with a basic all-purpose vegetable fertilizer, like a 10-10-10 or 5-5-5 product. Spread the fertilizer according to its labeled guidelines, since potency varies by product.
Plant the corn seeds. Sow six to eight kernels in a circle with each seed separated from the other by approximately 6 inches and buried approximately 1/2 to 1 inch below the soil surface.
Water the area twice daily or as needed to keep the soil moist. The corn will typically germinate within a week. Reduce watering to once a day, using enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
Wait for the corn seedlings to reach a height of 10 inches, then plant the pole bean seeds in a concentric circle outside of the corn circle. Separate each bean seed by approximately 6 inches, and bury the seeds 1 inch below the soil surface.
Water the bean seeds twice a day or as needed to keep them moist. They will typically germinate within two weeks. Once sprouted, reduce watering to once a day so they're on the same watering schedule as the corn.
Train the pole beans onto the corn stalk as the beans grow taller and develop climbing tendrils. Wrap the tendrils around the corn stalks in an upward fashion. Once trained, the beans will climb the corn on their own.
Things You Will Need
- Corn kernels
- Pole bean seeds
- Pole beans typically have pods ready for picking within 60 days of planting, according to North Carolina State University. Picking the pods continuously as they're ready encourages the vines to continue producing beans.
- Don't use traditional sweet corn when growing the corn together with beans. Use a variety that dries on the stalk to provide the long-lasting trellis that the beans need, otherwise you'll be forced to disturb the beans while harvesting the corn. Cornell University recommends using ornamental corn, field corn like flint or flour corn, or popcorn varieties.
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