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Bush beans

June 30, 2010

A friend and I were talking about our gardens after work today and we eventually got around to bush beans. (Yes, yes, I know I DO live an exciting life…)
My friend lives in Atlanta on either Nancy or Peachtree Creek and has experienced epic garden disasters this year, the type that would have broken my will; I doubt I could start over after having 4 feet of flood water uproot my garden.

Anyway, we had to cut the conversation short so I told him I’d post about my experience with “bush” type beans.

My quick and simple comparison between bush and pole beans:

Compact, 2 ft tall maybe, no trellis needed
Fairly heavy yield in a relatively short (2-3 week) period.
Shorter time seed to harvest
Clusters of flowers (and pods) towards the top of the bush-vine.

Vines, need a trellis or fence or poles for the beans to train onto, 8, 9 10 ft ?
Lighter yield but spread of entire season
Slightly longer time seed to harvest
Flowers and pods spread more evenly along the length of the vines and side shoots that branch out over the season.

Last year I planted Henderson Lima and Roma snap beans, both bush varieties. I followed the SFG advice of Mel Bartholomew and packed them in 9 per square foot, or 4″ apart. Right after sprouting, they looked nice and orderly:

It was productive for me last year so this year I again kept to a tight grid. After thinking about it (danger) i think this work well in this application since a- beans are legumes and fix nitrogen from the air vs the soil and b- the tight spacing completely shades and retains moisture in the soil.

I resisted the temptation to apply any sort of fertilizer to the legumes after reading of problems this creates- they don’t need the nitrogen so don’t give it to them….

SO what do the bush beans look like in the grid once they’ve reached full size? They look like one big tangled bean plant and seem perfectly content to be almost conjoined.
Last year’s crop nearing harvest time:

This year i followed the same game plan and planted some Hendersons in one of the new beds. (Note I didn’t go 3 deep in squares, only 2. Reaching over 2 squares to harvest from the third isn’t fun once the novelty wears off.)

I soak beans for a couple or 3 hours before i plant them; this supposedly improves germination time and % but I have nothing to compare it to. However, I will say the beans seem to sprout before i even get back to the house after poking them into the soil.

This year I soaked a few more Hendersons than I had allocated space. I couldn’t just toss them out so I raked back the wood much from the winter tree removal to expose the ground where one of my old compost piles had been. It was getting late (OK, it was dark) so I tossed them down, snapped this picture then covered them loosely.

So how are they doing?

Pretty dang well thank you; this is the mini plot in the old compost spot:

They are covered with pods and I should be shelling baby limas within a couple of weeks max. I’ll post about my pole bean experiences but I have to actually experience them first as this is my first go with them.

So, my Atlanta friend, I hope this helps. Pack those bush beans in tight like a Guatemalan jungle bus, they will thrive. 😉

2 Comments leave one →
  1. roundrockgarden permalink
    July 28, 2010 11:26 am

    Nice notes on bush beans. I found that mine did better this year because I really packed them together, one plant every two inches. They have formed one very green bush and are really putting on the little beanlings now! 🙂

    • July 28, 2010 12:22 pm

      Thanks for the comment.

      Mine (the Henderson Bush Limas) are about spent now- 30 days after the original post.
      The jury is still out of my runner Limas, the “Christmas” and “King of the Garden” varieties running up the bamboo trellis.
      The Christmas beans are delicious and fairly uniformly developed; the KoGs are giving me a lot of 1 hitters and deformed beans.
      We’ll see how it goes from here- I have 2 1/2 months to freeze/frost and maybe they will perk up production once the season starts turning a bit.

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