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Working Magic in the Garden With Beans

Advice from the University of Illinois Extension. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Beans are a popular choice for home gardens.

The University of Illinois Extension service says bush bean plants need the least amount of work. They stand without support.

Green bush beans used to be called string beans because of fiber material along the pods containing the seeds. Now green beans are called snap beans because plant breeding reduced the fibers.

Unlike bush bean plants, pole beans need supports to climb. But they need less space than bush beans because they twist around poles or sticks. Because the plants are tall, a person can stand while harvesting the beans.

The University of Illinois Extension says beans should not be planted until all danger of a freeze has passed in the spring. Cold weather could damage them. Planting beans every two to four weeks until early August will provide a continuous harvest.

Small weeds and grasses around beans plants need to be controlled, but be careful not to harm the plants. The root systems are not very strong or deep.

Seeds should be planted at a depth of two and one-half centimeters. Make sure the soil is not too wet or the seeds could develop poorly.

Bush beans should be planted five to ten centimeters apart. And there should be at least forty-five to sixty centimeters between the rows.

Pole beans should be planted ten to fifteen centimeters apart in rows that are about seventy-six to ninety centimeters apart. Or you could plant them in hills with four to six seeds per hill.

The hills should be seventy-six centimeters apart and with seventy-six centimeters between rows.

The University of Illinois specialists say to harvest beans when the pods are firm and have reached their full length. Do not wait until the seeds inside are fully developed. Bean plants produce more beans if pods are continually removed before the seeds are mature.

But wait until the plants are completely dry before picking beans. Picking beans from wet plants can spread bean bacterial blight, a disease that damages the plants.

The specialists at the University of Illinois Extension say beans should be moved to different areas of the garden each year. This is because diseases that affect beans can stay in the soil and infect the next bean crop.

Not only are beans a healthy food, they are also good for the soil. Other plants take nitrogen out of the soil, but beans and other legumes replace it.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. To learn more about agriculture, go to I'm Steve Ember.