If I had to choose one vegetable to grow, it'd be green beans. And since this post is all about beans, I just have to tell you about my absolute favorite one in the whole wide world. Do you hear the excitement in my voice?
You see, my family has passed down this particular heirloom bean for over one hundred years — the Tarheel green pole bean. My grandparents brought it with them when they migrated to Washington state from the mountains of North Carolina in 1941.
I have a certain love affair with gardening and heirloom seeds, but if you don't already love heirloom seeds, listen to this and you'll be just as smitten as I am. Heirloom seeds exist today just as they existed when God created them — science has not altered them or sterilized them by hybridization. Unlike GMO seeds, they aren't freakishly dangerous to our health and the environment.
And one of the best parts? Heirloom seeds can be saved from year to year, passed down from generation to generation like in my family. What a legacy. 🙂
Beans are wonderful plants, providing benefits to our bodies and our garden soil. Through my many years of growing beans in my own garden, I have discovered a few tips. Here they are.
1. Directly sow your beans.
Beans do not grow well as seedlings or transplants. They are best sowed directly into the ground as a seed. Beans should be sown when the soil temperature (not the air temperature) is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Soak your beans overnight.
The night before you plant your beans, soak the seeds in room temperature water over night. This will greatly speed up the germination process. However, if the weatherman foretells rain for your region during your bean-planting week, don't soak the seeds because they could rot.
3, Plant your beans where your brassicas were planted the previous year.
Beans are an excellent plant when it comes to crop rotation because they help fix nitrogen in the soil. It's a good idea plant them where members of the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower) were planted the previous year.
4. Take advantage of companion planting.
Beans are a fairly non-picky plant and get along nicely with almost everything else. The only plants you shouldn't plant in their vicinity are members of the allium family, like onions, garlic, leek and scallions. The allium family can inhibit or stunt the growth of green beans.
5. Run a string over your planted bean seeds.
Birds are notorious for pulling up new bean sprouts. If you tie a string just an inch or two over the row of sprouts, it prevents the birds from pulling them up. After the beans are a few inches tall, you can remove the string.
6. Know if the beans are a bush or pole variety.
The seed package should tell you if it's a pole or bush variety. Bush beans don't need a support system and are rather bushy and lower to the ground. Pole beans send up vine runners and need something to climb. You can use a pole, fencing, or even run strands of string or wire between two poles to create a trellis system. Once the runners begin to grow, you need to get the plants something to climb on. They won't grow if they don't have their support system. After putting your climbing supports in place, the beans literally grow inches overnight. Our bean is a pole variety and quite prolific.
We grow 2 rows of beans and there's enough to can over 80 jars of green beans, shell out and use the inner beans of the mature pods as white beans, and save seeds for dry beans and next year's crop.
What's your favorite type of bean to grow? Do you practice seed saving?
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