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Bush Beans – An Easy Going Plant

Grow them here. Grow them there. Grow them anywhere.

Bush beans are the dandelion of the vegetable world, not that they’re a weed, but that they will grow anywhere and everywhere. It is one of the least picky plants when it comes to growing conditions and that makes it ideal for new gardeners and seasoned gardeners alike. Bush beans are also great to grow with children because they germinate so quickly, providing visual growth each day.

Bush Beans vs. Pole Beans

There are two main types of beans: bush beans and pole beans. Pole beans require more work as they need something to climb up for support, such as a trellis. Bush beans, however, are free range. Their name says it all, they grow as a bush. They don’t require any particular extra work aside from the usual planting and watering. They are like a child of the 80’s and simply grow with the flow and don’t make a fuss.

Bush beans also take up less room in a garden than pole beans since they don’t need any supporting structures. They grow quicker than pole beans as well. An added bonus is that bush beans add nitrogen to the soil, enriching it for other plants in the garden. Ok, both beans add nitrogen, but since bush beans grow quicker, they add nitrogen quicker.

Growing Bush Beans in the Ground or Raised Bed

Now that you know some benefits of growing bush beans, you need to know how to grow them. For optimal plant growth, sow them directly into the garden, a raised bed or a container. They are suited to all three growing conditions. Direct sowing is planting the seeds in the soil. Bush beans can also be started indoors and transplanted, but it isn’t recommended.

Bush beans aren’t too fussy about the soil. They love well draining soil that is rich in organic material, but they’ll grow just fine in less than perfect soil. They do like full sun though. You’ll get a lot more beans if the plant gets a full day’s worth of sun.

If you decide to plant bush beans in the ground or a raised bed, make sure you sow them at a depth of 1 ½ inches (3.5 cm) and a good 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart. Rows of bush beans should be at least 18 inches wide (46 cm). Bush beans come in all at once, so don’t plant more than you need at one time. If you can, spread out planting so that bush beans are sown every two weeks, that will provide a longer growing period. From there, just simply make sure the bush beans get two to three inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of water a week, which could be from rainfall or watering them yourself.

Growing Bush Beans in a Container

Bush beans are just as happy in a container as they are in the garden, which is great if you have limited space. Choose potting soil specifically designed for growing vegetables in a container if you’re purchasing potting soil from a store, rather than creating your own mixture. As with planting in the ground or raised bed, they’ll still need to be planted at a depth of 1 ½ inches (3.5 cm) and 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart. A great container with that amount of spacing could be an old barrel.

If you aren’t trying to grow a lot of beans in one container, your options on containers are less limited. We are growing bush beans directly in the garden as well as in three different containers: an old barrel, an 18 inch pot and a milk jug, which has just one bush bean plant growing in it. All of the bush beans are thriving with little interference from bugs.

Pests and Bush Beans

Luckily, bush beans don’t usually have too many problems with pests. Potato bugs, worms and caterpillars that plague many vegetables in the garden don’t seem as interested in bush beans. White flies or aphids are the only ones that you should worry about. Placing a yellow sticky trap amongst the bush beans will capture them quickly leaving you practically worry free.

Harvesting Bush Beans

Ah, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the harvest! Bush beans germinate in about seven days and reach maturity between 50 and 60 days. You’ll notice small white flowers form and then about a week later the pods will be visibly growing. It’s time to pick them by hand when they are about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long before the seeds begin to bulge. They’ll be more tender when they’re smaller. When you pick them at a young stage, the plant will flower and produce more beans as well. If you leave the beans to die on the vine, the plant will stop producing.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Growing Bush Beans
  • Don’t go on vacation 50 days after planting bush beans and expect the plants to be waiting with beans when you get back.
  • Do have fun with it and don’t stress over every detail. Bush beans are easy going. Plant them. Water them. Talk to them if you want. They won’t talk back, but they will answer you with beautiful green leaves and long slender beans.
  • Do harvest them on time and remember to eat them.
  • Don’t wash them before you store them.
  • Do place them in an airtight container and cook them within a week of harvesting. If you’d like to store them long term, you can blanch them and then freeze them for up to three months.
Final Thoughts

Whether you call them bush beans, green beans, string beans, snap beans, or French beans, they are all the same easy-going, easy-growing beans that would love to be in your garden. Plant them after the danger of frost has passed and enjoy watching them grow and produce throughout the summer. If you’re looking for a friend, companion plants, for your bush beans, consider planting them with: potatoes, corn, celery and cucumbers. They like strawberries and rosemary as well and marigolds will help keep aphids at bay. Don’t plant bush beans with onions or beets though – they don’t get along.

That’s it. Plant your bush beans and sit back and watch them grow. Your no fuss bush beans will produce delicious beans in no time. The biggest worry you should have is what you’re going to make for dinner with them.

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