Snap beans come in both green and yellow, or wax, the same as you would buy in the market. The bush bean is smaller and much more tender, while a lot of people consider the pole bean to be much more flavorful. Pole beans grow to a height of about 6 feet or even more, they usually mature about two weeks after the bush varieties. They will bear produce for a longer time, usually about six to eight weeks, and they also produce a larger crop. For each square foot of garden plot, pole beans are a much more productive crop.

Pole bean plants will continue to produce for most of the summer if they have enough nutrients. Before you start planting, work into the soil about 1/2 pound, for each 25 feet of row, of 5-10-5 fertilizer. You can plant pole beans somewhat later than bush beans, around the time when the last frost is due.

The pole beans will need a very solid support to be built. The supports need to be able to bear the weight of the plants and be sturdy enough to outlast a high wind. Many gardeners will use stakes from a lumber yard or rough wooden poles with the bark still attached, the bark provides a grip for the vines. You need to set the poles about 3 feet apart in rows that are 3-4 feet apart, and drive them 2 feet into the soil. If you are planting your pole beans in a corner of your garden, you can drive three poles into the ground in the shape of a triangle or tepee, and tie them securely at the top, to resemble a tepee.

Tall chicken-wire trellises or solid fences can also be used as a support. It would be a good to have the fence or trellis on the north side of your garden. This way it will cast the least amount of shade. The trellis needs to be set solidly in the ground so it will be able to withstand the winds after it has become weighed down with vines.

Once your supports have been built, you will want to sow your seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Along a fence or trellis, the seeds should be sown 2 inches apart and when the seedlings appear, thin to about 4-6 inches. For growing around a pole, plant six seeds around each pole and then thin to the four strongest seedlings.

As soon as these bean plants begin to climb, you may want to help them climb up their support by winding the curly stem onto its support system. You always want to wind the stem in the same direction that it is curling. Fertilizer can be added in mid-season in a band or strip 6 inches from the plants or in a circular pattern around the poles. It is important that the fertilizer does not touch the leaves or stem, this is also true for bush beans. Ground level watering is the best as you don't want the plant itself to get wet. A heavy layer of mulch will help keep the soil moist and keep the weeds to a minimum. This is all part of good cultivation of your pole beans.

You can start harvesting your pole beans roughly 2 1/2 months after sowing if your plants have received the right amount of watering and food, and your weather has been warm. You don't want to harvest your pole beans when they are small, they should be large and thick for the best flavor.

To make sure you have a continuous crop, you should harvest all the pods as soon as they are mature. The more that you can pick, the more you will be able to harvest. You need to pick very carefully by holding the fruiting stems with one hand and extract a pod with the other. If you pull off the beans too rough, you run the risk of injuring the vine.

The harvesting season should last until you get your first frost. At that time if there are too many beans for immediate consumption, you can wait until they become dry and have a beige color to them before picking. You can then shell the beans and heat them for about an hour in the oven at your very lowest setting. This method will kill any weevils should any of them be infested. Dried pole beans are excellent in soups and stews, plus you can store them in sealed jars for several months.

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 for more interesting ideas and ways to plant.

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