String beans--sometimes called bush beans, snap beans or green beans--are the perfect first vegetable to grow for a child or first-time gardener. String beans are picked before they are mature--which means it’s a quick crop to grow and pick--and they are eaten with the pod. Tender, freshly picked string beans have more flavor and nutrients than store-purchased; fresh vegetables begin losing their nutrients the moment they are picked.
Choose the string bean variety that grows best in your USDA hardiness zone (see Resources for hardiness map). If you live in a short growing season, yotry Blue Lake (58 days to harvest), Bush Kentucky Wonder (57 days) or Derby (57 days).
Prepare the garden area in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunshine per day. Start by removing any rocks, weeds or other debris. Use your shovel to dig down about 8 inches and turn the soil. Break up all the dirt clods. Rake the area even.
Layer 2 inches of compost onto the garden plot. Work the compost into the soil with your shovel. Rake the area even.
Hoe a row in your garden plot. Use your hoe corner to make an indentation about 3 inches deep, allowing the soil to fall to the inside. Repeat another hoe line, parallel to the first one, with the soil dropping to the inside. This forms two moats on each side of a higher row of soil in the center.
Wait until the last frost, in your location, has passed before planting your string bean seeds. Plant each bush been seed 1 inch deep in the center of the soil in your row. Space the seeds 4 inches apart. Cover each seed hole with soil.
Sprinkle water lightly over the seeded row. Never over water new seeds. Water just to the point of moistness. Keep the seeds moist until they sprout through the soil. Then you may start watering in the motes, about once a day.
Remove any weeds as soon as they are visible. If you don’t, larger weed roots could entangle with the sensitive string bean roots. When you pull the larger weeds, the string bean roots could be damaged.
Pick the string beans when they are long and completely developed, yet still tender to the touch. Do not pick them in the morning when the beans may still be wet from dew. Wait until they are completely dry. Otherwise, blight (bean bacteria) can spread over the plant.