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A vegetable garden without beans? Impossible

A vegetable garden and beans. Whether you have 1 garden box or a mega-allotment, beans belong in a vegetable garden.

Definitely in a Planty Garden.
Harvesting Romano pole beans from the trellis

Do beans belong in every vegetable garden?

Yes, as far as I am concerned.

Fresh beans from your own garden are delicious: much tastier than those from the store. They're pretty easy to grow, take up little space, and give a great yield.
A MM-mini with a patch of bush beans
You can do all sorts of things with the harvest: cook them, stir fry them, add them to salads and soups.

I eat them a lot and grow them every year. I really like the beans with edible pods you can eat fresh, like green beans. Dry beans that you grow for the beans themselves - like white and brown beans - I don't do.

Pretty easy to grow? Okay, what's the catch?

There's not really a catch. But beans do like good weather and hate getting too soggy.

You can sow beans from early May to late June. But it has to be warm and dry, beans don't grow well if it's too wet. And here in the Netherlands, we get plenty of wet.
Bacon been seedlings
Plus, the young seedlings are vulnerable to frost. And snails.

But if the plants come through the first weeks unscathed, then it's all good. You hardly need to look after them. You can pretty much let them grow until it's time to harvest.

Pre-sow your beans

After a few cold Mays in a row, I decided to pre-sow my beans indoors. Bean seedlings are easy to transplant.

You can pre-sow them in a pot or little container with a mixture of 1 part MM-Mix, 1 part pre-sowing vermiculite.
Beans pre-sown using equal parts MM-Mix and vermiculite
The app walks you through it step by step, but here's a quick overview:

Take a pot with a hole in≠ the bottom - so it can drain excess moisture - and fill it with the half/half mixture. Get the mix damp and press 10-12 beans into it, about 2-3 cm deep. Then cover the pot with some plastic wrap and put it in a warm place.

In about 4 to 7 days the first sprouts will appear. Remove the plastic wrap, put the pot in a light place, and, after another 4 days or so they'll be ready for transplanting to your garden box outside.
Pre-sown bean seedlings
Next, make large holes or trenches in the soil mix and put the seedlings in the holes. Roots down, green up 😉

Give them some water, but not too much.

Sowing in an MM-Mini

You don't need to pre-sow if you grow your beans in an MM-Mini.

That's because you can easily bring them inside if the weather gets too cold or wet. So go ahead and sow straight away:
Butter beans sown in an MM-Mini in our greenhouse

Harvesting as long as possible

I personally try to harvest as long as possible by sowing early and continuing for as long as possible.

If you grow bush beans and pole beans, with a bit of luck you can harvest from the beginning of July until the first frost.

Sometimes I even harvest in November:
Laatste oogst stokbonen op 10 november 2019
My last bush bean harvest on November 10, 2019

What's the difference between bush beans and pole beans?

The main difference is height.

Bush beans grow about 40 to 60 cm tall. You can fit 9 plants in a 30x30 cm square patch.

As they grow, you give them support by placing a U-shaped rack made from garden wire over them. This helps them stay upright and neatly contained inside their square bean patch.
A support rack helps support bush beans
Pole beans grow and then keep growing. If you give them the chance, they'll easily get up to 3 meters tall.

At that height, the beans are harder to reach. So they're harder to harvest. Our trellis is 2 meters tall, so if the plants grow any taller, I lead the tendrils along the sides of the frame:
Romano polebeans grow tall, taller than our trellis
You can fit 8 plants in a single square patch: 4 in front of the trellis and 4 behind it.

Anything else?

Bush beans bloom earlier. So you can harvest sooner: after about 8 weeks.

You can harvest everything in about 2 weeks. Once you've picked all the beans, you remove the plants.
Harvesting bush beans
For a long harvest, sow a new patch every 2 weeks from mid-May to late June. Then harvest mid-July to mid-September.

With pole beans it's different. They put all their energy into growing upward at first. 
Pole bean on its way up
They flower later than the bushier varieties. If the weather's good, you can pick your first beans after about 9 weeks.

Pole beans continue to grow and flower. So, new beans come out on the same plants every time and you don't have to sow new patches as often.

Are there different kinds?

Yes, hundreds. You can find many types of the 'common' green bean alone. Then you've got your string beans, bacon beans, runner beans, butter beans, Chinese beans, and long beans. To name a few.

Then there are beans that you grow for just the beans: fresh or dried. Brown beans, white beans, you name it. Sometimes you can also eat the young pods, like the pinto bean:
Romano pole beans, Butter beans and Bacon beans
Then there are beans of which you only eat the dried beans. Brown beans, white beans, you name it. But I don't grow them: it takes too long and doesn't yield enough.

Which beans do you grow yourself?

Since I have a lot of garden boxes and trellises, I grow both bush beans and pole beans. Over the years we've tried a lot of varieties, but now we stick to 4 varieties.

2 bush bean varieties:

2 tall bean varieties:

Where can you buy them?

Where do you think? In the shop of course 😀

The bags tell you how many plants will fit in a patch, how tall they will be and whether they need a trellis. A  guide for each species can be found in the Knowledge Base, and the app provides step-by-step guidance.
You can order the bags separately or as part of a seed pack. 
Have fun!

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