How to Grow Bush Beans

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Bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) provide snap, shell and dry beans for cooking. Snap beans are ready for harvesting when the pods are still tender, and snap when bent in half. Shells beans are harvested when the beans are loose in their pods. Dry beans should be left to dry on the plant, or the plants can be uprooted and dried indoors when the leaves are yellow. Growing 1 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide, bush beans are low, bushy plants, unlike their climbing cousins, pole beans, which are a different variety of Phaseolus vulgaris.

Soil and Sun

For the best crops, grow bush beans in fertile, freely draining soil in a sunny spot. Bush beans grow best at temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, in areas of the garden that receive at least eight hours of sunlight per day. Soil pH should be between 5.8 and 6.5.

Spacing

Space bush beans 2 to 4 inches apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart. If you're growing bush beans in a 4-foot-wide bed, space the rows 18 inches apart.

Watering

Water bush beans in the morning so that the leaves are dry by nightfall to help prevent leaf diseases. Water the plants when the soil surface is dry, applying water until the soil is moist to a depth of 6 inches. Bush beans need about 1 inch of water per week.

Warning

  • Don't water bush beans little and often, as this causes shallow rooting.

Weeding

Removing weeds around young bush bean plants helps them establish quickly. Every week for the first six weeks after bush bean seeds sprout, pull up any weeds that appear. Avoid disturbing the seedling roots. You can also cut through weeds at the soil surface with a sharp hoe.

Fertilizing

Bush beans can benefit from fertilizer just before they bloom. When flower buds appear, evenly sprinkle ready-to-use 30-0-0 fertilizer granules or powder around bush bean plants at a rate of 1 pound per 100 feet in a row. Water the fertilizer into the soil. Alternatively, use a home soil test kit to find out the best fertilizer rates for your soil.

Warning

  • Don't allow fertilizer to contact bush bean leaves or stems.

Tip

  • Snap bush beans are ready for harvest about 50 to 60 days after sowing.

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