GROW BUSH BEANS
Farmer Roy’s Tip of the Month- May 2015
Hello gardening enthusiasts!
Spring is here and things are in full swing in the gardens! The residents here at Sunshine Care, A Community of Assisted Living Homes in Poway CA, have already dined on the tremendous bounty of fruits and vegetables that this time of year has to offer. With the mild winter, we have noticed many of our spring crops kicking in about 3 weeks earlier than past years. Our menus have included lots of zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes. Our first bell peppers and green beans, also found their way to the kitchen last week. We still have a couple rows of broccoli and cauliflower left from the winter plantings, and lettuce is always ever present. The peaches and apples came in early also and the citrus we grow is a staple as well.
This month I would like to touch on a vegetable that should be in everyone’s backyard organic garden- Bush Green Beans.
Call them haricots verts, snap beans, green beans or whatever- they are one of the easiest taste treats that you can grow. Bush green beans are very kid friendly- fun to grow and quick to harvest.
In our Children’s Garden, my little workers can direct seed or seed trays to produce transplants with the residents with no effort. The seeds are big and easy to manipulate whether going straight into the ground or in trays at the greenhouse.
In our gardens, I prefer to plant bush beans rather than pole beans. I feel some of the keys to success in an organic environment are a short number of days to harvest and quick turnovers in production with successive plantings. Pole beans take a bit longer to produce the first set of product and should be harvestable over a longer period of time. If your garden area is limited in size, pole beans might be a better option as they take up more space vertically. I have plenty of room in our gardens and try to get in and out of those plantings quickly and on to the next planting. I like to get them before the aphids do.
Pole beans require time to erect some type of support, more spraying and lastly, time to take down the support structure. Too much work for me!
If you have windy conditions in your area, bush beans are a better way to go.
Bush beans require no support and virtually no cultural practice afterwards. Plant and then wait to pick and eat!
Experts say that a foot of bush beans will get you about a pound of product. That sounds about right in our case. We place a transplant at 4” spacings on both sides of our drip tape over a 20 ft length of row. Ten to fifteen plants per person in your house is a good rule of thumb.
We started transplanting at the tail end of March and will continue on and off through September. Planting too many, too often over loads our kitchen staff. So we will do a planting every month or so.
For a continual supply for your kitchen, plant some bush beans every two to three weeks.
Check my blog on “Soil Preparation” from November 2014. Make sure the ground is rich in organic matter and kept moist. Mulching is a good technique for keeping the soil damp and cooler in the summer months. Bush beans love full sun.
When the first signs of flowers setting beans appear, give them a shot of some liquid organic fertilizer like seaweed extract or fish fertilizer. That should be enough to carry you through the life of the plant.
Bush beans are legumes and fixate nitrogen in the soil. Bacteria convert ammonia into nitrates, a usable form of nitrogen for your plants. In theory, your ground will be happier and healthier for that crop and the next crop.
The only pest problem we tend to see as things heat up in the summer with our bush beans are aphids. These can be washed off or sprayed with some insecticidal soap. Again, this is not much of a problem with bush beans and much more of an issue with pole beans.
Powdery mildew is the only fungal problem we see in the summer. Usually one spraying of Serenade, bacillus subtilis, might be all we do. Looking for varieties of bush beans with powdery mildew resistance is the best way around this problem.
These soil amendments, fertilizers and spray materials are easily found at your local home and garden centers such as Grangettos in San Diego County. That’s where I go.
Figure on 2-3 flushes of beans during harvest time. We teach the kids to use the two- hand harvest technique. Hold the stem by the top of the bean with one hand and pull with the other. It’s easy to yank the whole plant out of the ground with one hand.
We get our seed from Johnny’s Selected Seed. If you check their catalog or go on- line, you will see many different bush bean varieties in an assortment of types and colors. A packet of seed will contain about 175 seeds for around $4.00. Pretty darn cheap!
Provider is the earliest to harvest, 50 days, and has powdery mildew resistance
E-Z Pick is the easiest to hand harvest.
Cosmos is dark green in color and handles the heat well.
Jade has the longest, 6”-7”, most attractive pod. These slender pods are tender and delicious. The plants are large, upright, high yielding and tolerate the heat well. This one is my favorite!
Don’t just grow the green bush bean. Try the purples like Amethyst and Royal Burgundy as well as the yellow ones like Carson and Rocdor. Remember we eat with our eyes first!
You have choices with filet bean and flat pod varieties as well. Be careful with the filet bean varieties. They are meant to be harvested when very slender for tenderness. Be ready to pick these plants every 2 days at the most or they will become oversized and tough.
In general, when harvesting bush beans- If in doubt, pick it!
So get your ground ready and plant these easy- to -grow taste treats.
If you have any questions or would like a tour of the gardens here at Sunshine Care, drop me a line.
Sunshine Care, A Community of Assisted Living Homes
We also offer the best monthly garden lectures that are free to the public, here on the 3rd Saturday of the month. Door prizes and refreshments go along with experts touching on different topics in the world of horticulture. We follow all gatherings with a tour of the greenhouse and gardens. It’s a must!
Next month, our topic is Establishing a Backyard Vineyard (or larger).
[Check Schedule for this and other FREE Garden Lectures]
Hope to see or hear from you soon and happy gardening!