There’s something for everyone to love about growing beans! From the ease of getting a good harvest to the delicious recipes you can make with the fruits of your labor, it’s hard to ignore all the good reasons to make beans a mainstay on your land.
But many folks are asking which method of growing is best, bush or pole? In the battle of pole versus bush beans, both sides have their pros and cons, it’s important to know as much as possible about both methods to ensure you make the right decision for your needs.
Pole Versus Bush Beans – Which Is Better?
Whether bush or pole beans work better will ultimately depend on your own abilities, requirements, and resources. Growing bush beans is perfect for gardeners with less experience, as they’re easier to grow and stand up to the elements a little better than pole beans.
But for those with the expertise and time to make it work, growing beans on a pole can be far more rewarding in the long term. Ultimately, both methods are worth using and come with their own pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide which one is best suited to you.
Bush Bean Basics
Growing beans on a bush is pretty simple. All you need is a handful of seeds and a plot of clear land. An inch of water each day will be enough to sate their thirst. Be sure to water in the morning so your little seeds can get their drink in before the hot sun burns away the water. Little else is required, as beans are strong, independent plants, capable of thriving with very little help.
Bush beans will grow in a compact space close to the ground, meaning they’re easy to protect and maintain. In fact, some say due to their durability and low maintenance requirements, they’re the ideal plant for beginner gardeners. And their natural durability and fast rate of growth make them ideal for organic gardens.
Harvesting Bush Beans
When the time comes to harvest the beans from a bush, you’d better have your wits about you! The beans will ripen quickly and all at the same time, so it’s important to harvest them in good time. You’ll need to carefully monitor the color, size, and firmness of each pod, to ensure you don’t miss the optimal picking time. If you prefer to keep up a steady flow of beans, try planting your bushes a week or so apart.
Choosing which level of ripeness to harvest beans is a matter of personal taste. Some folks like to harvest just ripe beans for a crunchy texture. Others prefer to let the pods hang on the bush a little while, for a mushier texture and more distinct flavor. Be sure to read up on your chosen variety for best results.
Perfect Pole-Grown Produce!
Beans grown on the vine have a natural desire to climb upwards. That’s why some gardeners choose to grow their beans around a pole, known as a trellis. The vines can wrap around a natural pole made from bamboo or any other material that takes your fancy, and wind up and up, almost always higher than 10 feet and sometimes as high as 15 feet!
Although growing beans in this way is a little more of a challenge than simply leaving them to grow on the bush, the rewards are greater, with far more beans available come harvest time. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could try placing your pole next to other high-growing plants like corn, encouraging the beanstalk to wind around them and allowing the different plants to complement each other.
Planting and Harvesting
Pole-grown beans are delicious, plentiful, and easy to grow. But if you want to get the best of your bamboo-borne legumes, you can give them a little helping hand to ensure you get some truly quality results. While beans will naturally improve soil quality and don’t need too much of a nutrient boost, it’s a good idea to prepare the soil with a small amount of aged, organic compost before planting to prevent soil crusting.
When it comes to harvesting, the pods will ripen at slightly different times depending on several factors, including their position on the pole. To ensure you get a maxed-out harvest, be sure to keep a close eye on the pole, returning every day or two to harvest newly ripe beans. As with bush beans, it’s up to you to decide which level of ripeness suits your taste and your chosen variety of bean.
Protecting Pole Beans
Although pole-grown beans will give you better rewards in the end, they do sometimes need a little extra help to keep them safe. After all, a single strong wind could knock down your 15-foot pole and uproot the plant, meaning all your work was for nothing! But it’s not too hard to keep them safe with a little extra effort.
Firstly, ensure your trellis system is firmly rooted in the ground. It may need a few extra supports made from metal or some other sturdy material to ensure the pole doesn’t snap under pressure. But for best protection, make use of a windbreak. This could be a wall, fence, or even a hedge. Ensure your windbreak has some holes or gaps, allowing a little wind to pass through to gently break the force of the gust.
The benefits of bean growing extend far beyond the time these yummy veggies spend on the bush or pole, and even for months after they’ve been harvested. Beans, like all legumes, play a crucial role in the promotion of soil health, drawing nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, improving its fertility and ensuring bountiful harvests the following spring.
Beans plants also compete with weeds and other unwanted pests for nutrients, keeping the soil clear in a clean, organic way. It’s actually a great time investment. The time you would have spent keeping the ground free of weeds otherwise can now be invested in growing healthy and nutritious beans.
Watch That Frost!
Although beans are pretty durable plants, able to stand up to rains, winds, and even the occasional bug attack, there’s one thing every aspiring bean grower should watch out for: frost. Even a light frost is likely to completely wipe out your beans, whether grown on a bush or a pole. That’s why it’s so important to check the weather in your area and only plant after the last spring frost has passed, normally in late April or early May.
There are plenty of resources you can use to find the optimal planting time, including almanacs and online forecasts. As long as you keep a close on that date, there’s not much else you need to do to protect your beans. But if you’d like to get a head start on the cold weather, you could cover your chosen patch of ground in advance, ensuring it’s nice and warm by the time you plant your seeds.
Whichever way you choose to grow beans, it’s sure to be a success if you take your time and stay patient with the growing process. They’re fast-growing and durable plants, so as long as you’ve made good preparations, you can sit back and wait for a bumper bean bonanza!