Pole Beans Little Space
Lots of Flavour and Variety
Beans are an essential and basic vegetable both on our plates and in our gardens.
Now let’s clarify that we are talking about fresh beans in their pods here; not dried shell beans. We’ll get to dry beans elsewhere. Tasty and prolific, green and yellow beans can be produced in very little space.
Why Grow Them? Most seed racks and catalogues will have a wide variety of bush beans available. I ignore them. Look for their climbing cousins. Called pole or runner or string beans these rapidly growing vines are a bit more difficult to find but they are well worth the effort. They are just as easy to grow and produce a lot more beans from a very limited space. They will climb to 3m (10ft,) by midsummer and will continue to produce new pods as long as you keep them picked.
What Will They Climb?They climb best on strings but rough poles will also work. A central post in the ground with a 1m (3ft,) circle of strings around it will produce more beans than most families can eat. I use a jute or hemp string so that I don’t have to untangle the mess in the fall. Just throw the whole thing in the compost.
Are They Pretty? I have made my bean patch a little more interesting the last couple of years by mixing Morning Glories and Beans on the same string trellis. They seem to do well together and I reach between the bright blue flowers to pick the veggies for dinner. The Beans are more aggressive than the Morning Glories so I tend to plant twice as many M.Gs. as beans and it works out well.
Where Do I Get Them? The mail order catalogues are the best source of seeds for Pole Beans and even some of them are a bit weak. Johnny’s and Renee’s are good sources and Stokes and Veseys have a few. Most average retail seed racks will be a bit short in the pole Bean department. Some of the specialty stores may have some. Many have Scarlet Runner Beans in the flower section and although their beans are edible they would never be my first choice as a vegetable.
How Do I Grow Them? You are growing a lot of plants in a small space so start with a good soil, rich in compost. They are legumes so they can fix Nitrogen from the air and as a result, rarely need any additional fertilizer. Provide adequate water through the growing season but Beans will root quite deeply so don’t water them until there has been quite a period without rain and then make sure that they are deeply watered.
Try the different varieties and discover a whole new world of bean tastes and textures on your dinner plate.
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