Beans for the vegetable garden
Edible beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are ideal to grow in your vegetable garden. Not difficult to grow, beans can come in an assortment of sizes, shapes and flavors as well as often displaying gaily colored flowers. Beans are filled with vitamins, fiber and can be used in many ways in the kitchen. Beans like a rich, slightly moist but well-draining soil in full sun. There are beans that grow tall and are perfect for covering fences, clambering up trellises and screens or creating a back drop for other plants. There are also bush beans that grow in clumps of foliage and take up less space. String beans come in green, yellow wax or purple colors and can be decorative as well as tasty. There are fava beans that prefer cool growing weather and beans that like it warm. Most beans set best with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s. If weather gets really hot, many beans do not form pods well. Some beans are best eaten fresh whereas others are best dried. Dried beans are usually referred as dry shelling beans and are cultivated the same as beans that are harvested while fresh and green. Beans usually grow as vines and need support. Those that need pollination are considered runner beans, whereas the climbing beans that are self-fertile are pole beans. You can also grow bush bean varieties that will not need support and grow with a loose bush-like form between 12″ to 2′ tall. Beans can be grown in any sized garden and are ideal for container gardens.
Here is a list of just some of the different types of beans you can grow in the garden:
Lima beans or Butter Beans are meaty and can be harvested to cook raw or dried. You can find varieties in either bush or pole bean habits of growth.
Fava beans or broad beans are in the Vetch family rather than true beans. As a result they are frost hardy. They are best used as a green shelling bean. These beans have decorative black and white flowers. There are some people who can have a serious allergic reaction to fava beans.
French beans or filet beans should be harvested before beans swell when fine and thin. They have a smooth texture and can be grown as bush or pole varieties.
Yard long beans are interesting long beans that can dangle 15-18 inches off of tall-growing vines. They are often used in Asian cooking recipes but make fine eating simply steamed. There is a highly decorative variety with deep red beans called ‘Red Noodle’.
Beans with wide and flat pods are often categorized as Romano beans and also come in bush and climbing cultivars.
Grow beans in rich loam. If you grow beans from seed germination is usually best between 65-85’F. Like all plants in the legume family, beans have the unique ability to work with rhizobial bacteria to convert nitrogen from the air into tiny nitrogen-filled nodules on their roots. Using a bean inoculant will make sure there is sufficient bacterial to encourage this process. All the extra nitrogen not used by the bean plants will be left in the soil to enrich and boost the growth of what ever plants follow your bean crop.
The most common pests that bother beans are the Mexican Bean Beetle and flea beetles. Sometimes aphids can infest the delicate new top growth.
Try growing some different beans in the garden for fun. Consider Yard Long varieties, Soy or even those Garbanzo beans that are suddenly showing up in food markets as gourmet raw snacks.
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