Accessibility links

Breaking News

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.

Specialists at the University of Illinois Extension say bush beans need the least work. The plants do not need supports to stand.

Green bush beans used to be called string beans because of fibers along the pods containing the seeds. But plant breeding reduced the fibers, and now the beans are known as snap beans. Fresh ones break with the pleasing sound of a snap.

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

Beans should not be planted until all risk of freeze has passed in the spring. Planting beans every two to four weeks until early August will provide a continuous harvest.

Control weeds growing around bean plants, but be careful not to harm the plants. Their root systems are not very strong or deep.

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

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

Plant pole beans ten to fifteen centimeters apart along rows, and leave about eighty to ninety centimeters of room between the rows. Or you could plant the beans along rows of hills with four to six seeds per hill. The hills should be spaced about eighty centimeters apart, and the rows should also be about eighty centimeters apart.

The University of Illinois Extension service says you should 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.

Beans should be moved to different areas of the garden each year. This is because diseases that infect 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. For more advice for home gardens, go to I'm Bob Doughty.