If you’re considering planting pole beans in Central Florida there is a lot to consider. Fear not, however, as we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn all you could possibly need to know about planting and harvesting pole beans in your area.
What Month Is Best for Planting Pole Beans in Central Florida?
Pole beans need to be planted after the date of your last frost, which in Florida is usually around the start of March. It’s worth noting as well that your soil temperature needs to be above 50°F ideally to prevent damage to the seeds. If you wanted to give your beans a head start you could lay black plastic over your planting site to let the sun warm your soil for you.
There’s no real advantage to starting your seeds indoors as pole beans are such quick growers anyway and, in fact, any advantage you may get is outweighed by the fact that their root systems are very delicate and you would risk damage when transplanting them. With that in mind, it’s definitely best to just sow directly into your intended planting site.
How Late Can You Plant Pole Beans?
If you plant your pole beans too early or too late, once the soil temperature has become too cold, they will suffer from poor germination rates and likely rot in the soil. Equally, if your soil is too hot your beans are unlikely to be as tender and may become stringy, so for planting in Central Florida, with soil temperatures rising into the 90s by mid-July, you will get your best quality beans by planting before May.
That being said, as long as you get your beans in the ground with a good twelve weeks clear until the first expected frost of the year, which for Florida isn’t until the start of January, you can expect a crop to do well enough as long as it’s all planted by late October.
How Do You Know When Pole Beans Are Ready?
You can typically start harvesting pole beans 7 or 8 weeks after seeing the first signs of sprouting. The beans will be at their best when you get them young and fresh. You are looking for bean pods about the thickness of a pencil, and remember once you see the beans bulging in their pods they are past their peak and will be tough.
For a top pro tip, beans will be at their sweetest when picked in the morning when their sugar levels are highest. You should try to pick beans every day, as the more you pick, the more the plants will produce.
How to Grow Pole Beans
As with most gardening, soil quality is of paramount importance when planting pole beans. Well-composted manure is your best friend when growing beans. The soil should be prepared with it before planting, and then dressing in a little extra halfway through growing, or after particularly heavy blooms, can help with crop volumes.
Green beans are quite thirsty generally and require a good amount of water, particularly in hot climates like Central Florida. A good covering of mulch will help with water retention and will also serve to protect the beans’ fragile root systems from the hot summer sun as the season progresses.
You should be careful when weeding so as not to disturb roots and aim to pinch out the lead shoots before they over-run their poles to ensure a good yield. Another good tip for Floridians is to try to shade younger plants with covers as in high heats they are prone to lose flowers which, again, will spoil your yield.
How Long Do You Soak Pole Beans Before Planting?
Prior to planting your pole beans, it doesn’t hurt to soak them in warm water for at least a few hours. This will help speed up germination times and will give you a better germination rate as the longer they take in the ground, the more likely they are to rot. Just pop them in a bowl of water in your garden for a few hours in the sun, or indoors overnight.
What Can I Use for Pole Beans?
You can make supports for pole beans out of a good range of things, you don’t necessarily need a “proper” bean pole. The traditional option would be to use bamboo canes or coppiced wood to make a frame, trellis, or teepee, but actually, you can be a lot more flexible. Any spare sticks or fencing that you have in your garden, or old tree branches will do just fine, as will any old repurposed steel bars or spare timber.
To increase the possible gaps between your poles, why not try using some netting, wires, or strings? Beans will just as happily climb up a mesh as they will poles, and this may save you some work.
Why Grow Pole Beans?
Green beans are incredibly easy to grow, and if you practice sequentially planting pole beans you should be able to get a good crop throughout a big chunk of the year. If you’re just starting out, aim for a disease-resistant variety and these beans are almost as close to guaranteed success as you will get.
Are Pole Beans Good to Eat?
The simple answer? Pole beans are delicious! Fresh from the garden there is a delight to be had in enjoying these beans at home, the simpler the better. For maximum flavor, we’d recommend going for an heirloom variety such as Blue Lake Stringless Bean or Purple Podded Pole, which tend to taste better than their hybrid cousins which are usually bred for high yields and disease resistance ahead of flavor.
Although, as with most vegetables, these are best eaten fresh, it is also possible to dry them for over-wintering. If left to fully mature green beans can be shelled and dried to eat in the colder months. We recommend heirloom varieties such as Romano Bean for harvesting for drying.
Are Pole Beans as Good as Bush Beans?
In terms of flavor, there is absolutely no difference between pole beans and bush beans. The deciding factor will usually be what space you have available to grow them in and how you can get the best crop for your garden or allotment. Bush beans will come in a little quicker than pole beans, and are if anything a little easier to grow, whereas pole beans will give you slightly more beans for slightly longer, but the differences are small enough so as to be arguing over semantics.
One point of difference to note is that in Central Florida you may be better off planting pole beans in the early part of your season and then transitioning to a bush variety as the summer approaches, as bush beans do tend to cope better in heat and are easier to shade.
Whichever style and variety of beans you choose, the most important thing to remember is to get out there and plant some! The best beans will always be the beans you actually plant in your garden.