Expert Author Julie Williams

Beans – both fresh and dried green beans are rich in the B vitamins and potassium.  They may have even more antioxidants than blueberries and as much cholesterol-lowering fiber as oats (another super-food).  They also are an excellent source of lean protein.

Climbing beans originate from the warm / temperate to tropical regions of the Americas.  There are 36 species, some being annual and some perennial.

Most grow on twining climbing plants with bright green tri-foliate leaves.  There are many bush varieties available now that don’t require staking. Flowers can be purple, red, white or yellow, followed by round, long or flat seed pods.

Some plants are grown for the beans inside the pods, and others are eaten pods and all.

Beans will do best with a long, warm to hot growing season. They should be grown in full sun and need ample amounts of water to grow vigorously. Beans will thrive in a light, well-drained soil that is rich in humus (well rotted compost).

Wait until the last frost and the ground has warmed before planting seed in it’s permanent position, sowing from mid-spring to early summer.

Watch for snails and slugs in the early growing period.

Beans are heavy feeders, so make sure to add compost at the time of planting and give additional feeds of organic fertilizer every three to four weeks. They will take between 60 and 90 days to mature – depending on what variety you are growing.

Select the healthiest looking plant and let the beans mature and dry on the vine to save the seed for next spring.

*My own personal tip is to keep picking your beans just a tiny bit before mature. That way you’ll enjoy tender baby beans and your plants will keep producing more beans so you’ll end up with a higher yield. *

Beans are such easy plants to grow. They are a great plant to encourage your kids or grandkids into the garden. They taste great fresh off the vine too.

To make sure you have a long supply of fresh, health promoting beans, plant a succession of plants and varieties to last you well into autumn (fall).

Beans also enrich the soil with nitrogen. They will grow quite happily with companions of cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, squash, strawberries (with Bush Beans), and tomatoes, but should not be grown with any of the onion family or fennel.

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Julie Williams

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