GROWING STRING BEANS: For a beginning vegetable gardener, snap beans, aka string beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), can be one of the most rewarding vegetables to grow. There is almost as much variety in the types, colors and methods to grow this vegetable as there are in the ways to use them in the kitchen. They are easy to grow, produce a crop quickly and deliver a tasty, healthy and satisfying dish.

There are two basic categories of bean plants: bush and pole. Bush beans grow to a height of about 2 feet. Pole beans are vines that can reach a height of more than 6 feet. Bush beans produce their crop over a shorter time frame, generally just two weeks. Pole beans will continue to produce until the fall frost as long as you continue to harvest them. If the weather is extremely hot during flowering, the bean plant may not set fruit. But the pole bean will resume flowering and setting fruit once the weather cools a bit. Pole beans are therefore more productive per square foot of soil than bush beans. Both types can be grown in the ground or in large patio containers. Pole beans must be supported by a teepee or trellis structure, installed at planting time. For a quick teepee, several tall bamboo canes or sturdy wood strips can be placed in the soil and tied together at the top. The growing vines generally find and twine themselves around the support, but straying vines can simply be turned back gently onto the supports. No tying is necessary.

Beans need warm weather, water, full sun, and well-drained soil which is neutral to slightly acidic. After the last frost date for your area when the soil has warmed, sow seeds directly into the soil. Follow depth and spacing recommendations found on the seed packet. Stay tuned for part 2 in a future RTS.

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