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bean flower

Give your bean plant experiment a chance to grow up and it will eventually reward you with some of the most unusual blossoms you’ll ever see. Different bean varieties produce different colors of blossoms. I’ve seen white, yellow, and purple in my own garden.

Have you ever sprouted a bean seed? Every one of my kids did this in preschool, and I remember sprouting beans in grade school. At some arts festivals and county fairs, I’ve seen booths where you could plant a bean seed and take it home to watch it grow. Maybe you’ve sprouted a bean seed?

Amazingly, bean seeds will sprout even under somewhat unnatural conditions. For example, the seed I started in grade school was in a clear plastic cup. We folded a piece of paper towel into a strip, rolled it into a cylinder, and lined the cup with it. Then we wet the paper, shoved the bean seed between the paper and the wall of the cup, and set it on a windowsill. We watched roots grow down while stem and leaves grew up.

Bean Plants can be So Much More

starting a bean in a cup

Who didn’t do something like this in preschool, grade school, or at a science fair? My kids brought home beans planted in soil, but I prefer this approach; it ensures that you’ll see roots, stem, and leaves as the plant starts growing.

I’d be willing to bet that most people who have sprouted beans have never seen their bean plants grow up. Let’s reverse that trend! Make a point in the next growing season to plant some beans in your kitchen garden.

There are bush beans and climbing beans (also known as pole beans). Bush bean plants grow short and nearly support their own weight. They can look like very small shrubs. Climbing bean plants grow long and twist around whatever they find nearby that’s at least as tall as they are; they’re vines. All the climbing bean plants I’ve grown have reached at least 10 feet in length. The photos show what you can look forward to if you plant climbing beans (which I recommend over bush beans in an article titled Canning and Freezing: How Big Should Beans Be?)

No Special Care Required

climbing bean vines

At first, a climbing bean plant looks like a bush bean plant. However, after a climbing bean deploys its second set of leaves, it stretches a leader skyward (left). That leader twists about as it grows longer until it rests against something; then it turns toward whatever it’s touching. When another spot on the leader touches something, the leader turns again at that point and so on.

It doesn’t take long for a climbing bean’s leader to wrap repeatedly around a trellis or neighboring plant. On the right, two leaders wrap around a single upright. In time, the leaf clusters will enlarge and flower stalks will emerge from them.

In hopes of encouraging you: I gave the bean plants in the photographs no special care. Before I planted seeds, I dug an eight-inch circular hole about eight inches deep, filled it halfway with compost, and added back soil I’d removed to make the hole. I tossed the compost and soil to blend it a bit, and then erected a support in the center of the hole. Then I set four seeds around the support.

I watered heavily the day I planted seeds, and kept the soil damp until seeds sprouted. Then, for the remainder of the season, I left the plants alone except when I harvested beans. It’s that easy. You can grow that!

bean-laden trellises

My tripod bean trellises are only eight feet tall; I recommend making yours at least ten feet. Thirty nine days passed from when I photographed the bean sprouts (above) until the beans reached the tops of my trellises. Still nothing to harvest, but the first beans were only two weeks away.

beans ready to harvest

September 1st – two months after planting – my bean plants were covered with ready-to-eat beans as well as flowers that would produce even more beans. A convenient characteristic of bean plants is that they produce an abundant crop in just half a growing season.

You Can Grow That is a loose coalition of garden bloggers encouraging people to garden. Please visit the You Can Grow That website for a list of other participating blogs.

 

4 Responses to String Bean? You Can Grow That

  • Laila says:

    Last year I have grown a beautiful purple pole version which was great but the plants were a bit affected by the strong winds we get here, so this year I grew bushy versions and they got attacked by slugs. So although beans are one of my favorites I have not had a lot of succes.
    It is not that I am giving up!!. I just might find another variety and experiment a bit more. I agree that everyone should at least give growing beans a try!!

  • I so love growing beans. They are one of my favorite plants to grow and one of my family’s favorite to eat. :)

  • admin says:

    Laila – Thank you for visiting! Reading your comment makes me feel lucky that my climbing beans haven’t been affected by wind. Biggest problem I’ve had has been bean beetles, but they damage only a very small percentage of beans. I hope you have better luck next time around!

    crafty_cristy – Thanks for your comment. I agree: as easy as beans are to grow, it’s very satisfying to put up a few gallons in the freezer and extend the growing season well into winter!

  • Jane Gates says:

    I love string beans but we get so hot and dry in the summer here in the desert I don’t have as much luck as I’d like. Some of the old fashioned varieties like the Scarlet Runner Bean seem to do well here. What’s more, the flowers are brilliant and decorative. With all the fun colors of flowers and leaves offered these days there’s no reason to promote that lowly string bean into the front yard garden. Many varieties are not only delicious and nutritious, but colorful and showy. Thanks for the fun article.

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