A favorite morsel, with vegetable gardeners, is the snap bean, they are easy to grow, and nutritious. Both the green and yellow wax varieties that you buy in the supermarket are snap beans that can be grown in any good soil either as bushy plants or as pole beans, climbing like a vine upon a tall support. Bush beans are usually smaller and more tender than the pole variety, but many people consider pole beans more flavorful. If you have enough space you may want to try both kinds.
Bush bean plants will grow to about 1 1/2 feet, will mature in about 60 days, or sometimes sooner if you plant them in midsummer, and they will yield for two or three weeks. Because of the fact that they have a short maturity time, you can make succession plantings for a perpetual supply all during the summer.
Beans are legumes, just like our peas, and with all legumes they have the ability to absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere and can add it to the soil. You may want to dust your seeds with a garden center preparation called a soil inoculant, because soil bacteria help in this nitrogen accumulation, before you plant them.
In order to prepare your soil, you need to use a 5-10-5 fertilizer of about 3-4 pounds per 100 square feet. You don't want to apply a fertilizer with a high nitrogen count, or you will be growing large leafy plants and not very many beans.
These bean seeds are very susceptible to a fungous infection that will cause the seeds to rot. The seeds that you buy will probably be coated with a fungicide coating called Captan. Unfortunately this preparation is poisonous if it should be eaten; so please be careful not to allow small children to handle these seeds. You can purchase untreated seed but only in a few varieties.
When planting your bush beans, make sure that the soil has become thoroughly warm and no longer has the winter rains or snow still soaked in. Many seed catalogs recommend that the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees F, this is usually a week or two before the date of the last spring frost. If you are unsure and want to be safe, delay your planting until the time of the last expected frost.
Space your rows roughly 2 feet apart, and the channels 1 inch deep. Plant one seed every 2-3 inches. Because of the fact that bush bean plants need only about 4 inches of space between them, thinning probably won't be necessary unless every seed germinates. Channels for midsummer plantings should be 2 inches deep. This puts the seeds closer to the soil moisture. Never cover the bean seeds with more than one inch of soil, regardless of when you do a planting, in spring or midsummer. Too much soil covering could prevent the seedlings from pushing through.
You may want to make succession plantings, as bush beans have a short harvest period, every three weeks, and continuing until about eight weeks before the first fall frost is expected to arrive. If at all possible, don't plant later crops of beans in the same spot you grew them earlier in the year.
Your bush beans need to be cultivated when the plants are about 6 inches tall. You need to sprinkle a 5-10-5 fertilizer in a strip on either side of the row, but be careful to keep the fertilizer from touching the leaves or stems. The soil needs to be kept well moistened, but never water from above and never touch the plants if the leaves are wet, as this may spread any diseases that they may have. Mulching will help to conserve moisture and to keep the weeds down to a minimum.
When harvesting the bush beans, pick them before they are mature, while they still snap when you bend them, and before the you can see the seeds inside swelling. Be sure to remove any pods that have grown tough and large in order to keep each plant productive for two to three weeks. If beans that are ripe are left on the vine they will cause the plant to slow down production.
Be gentle when harvesting. You need to hold the fruiting stem with one hand and carefully pull off the bean with the other; otherwise, you may pull away some of the plant as well.
Barbara Volkov and her husband are happily retired and enjoying a lot of gardening in a small backyard. I have several articles pertaining to the garden and its many accessories. Come and visit us at http://www.gardenersgardensupplies.com/ for more interesting ideas and ways to plant.