How to Plant Bush Beans in the Garden

Here’s how to plant bush beans in the garden.

variety of bush beans
Our favourite beans. We grow green, yellow (wax) and burgundy bush beans.

Type of Beans

There are three main types of beans to grow in the garden – bush beans, pole beans and dried or shelling beans. Within these three categories there are numerous different varieties to choose from.

Bush beans are my favourite kind of beans to grow.  They grow 2-3 feet tall and wide and don’t need any support system. They mature quickly and ripen in batches, so you’ll get a lot of beans to eat or to freeze at a time.  The more you pick, the more you’ll get for about two to three weeks. You can leave bush beans to dry and harvest them as dried beans or as seed for next year.

bush beans
Rows of bush beans at the end of June. They’ll fill out to be about 2 to 3 feet high and wide.

Pole beans are ones that grow continuously on long vines. They can grow as tall as 12 feet and therefore need to be supported by some sort of structure. Pole beans mature later than bush beans, but will continue to produce beans until frost stops them. This means you’ll have a steady, but smaller supply of ripe beans compared to bush beans.

scarlet runner beans
Pole beans like this scarlet runner bean grow long vines that need a support structure. The kids used to love our bean teepee in the garden.

Dried or shelling beans are ones that are specifically grown for the dried bean inside the pod. The green pod, looks very similar to bush or pole beans and grows in a similar fashion, but the pods are too fibrous and tough to be enjoyed as a green bean. These include kidney beans, navy beans, lima beans, etc.

While I’ve tried growing all three type of beans, my favourite for flavour and freezing are bush beans. We usually grow Tendergreen Improved Bush Beans, Royal Burgundy Bush Beans and Improved Golden Wax Bush Beans.

The Magic of Purple Beans – Royal Burgundy Bush Beans

When my kids were little, burgundy beans were their favourite because they change colours when cooked. That’s right, those burgundy beans will turn green when cooked. Try it! The magic comes from plant pigments called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a type of flavanoids that have beneficial antioxidant properties.

purple beans turning colour in pot
Enjoy the show! When purple beans get cooked, they change colour.

HOW TO PLANT BUSH BEANS

Seed beans directly in the garden, they do not transplant well and their short growing season is perfect for direct seeding. The big seeds make them ideal for little garden helpers to put in the ground.

three types of bean seeds
Green, yellow and royal burgundy bush beans ready to be seeded.

WHEN TO SEED BEANS

Beans prefer warm soil and are considered a warm weather crop, so plant after risk of frost has past.  They prefer their soil to be in the range of 21-26°C  (70-80°F). If you put the seed in before then, the seeds may rot before they send up sprouts.

Here in my Winnipeg garden – Zone 3b, I usually seed beans between May 24 and June 1. It varies from year to year depending on soil conditions, moisture, frost and air temperature. During this time frame, I watch the weather forecast and try to get the beans in just before a rain.

DAYS TO GERMINATION

Bush beans, depending on variety will  within in 6-14 days.

DAYS TO MATURITY

Depending on variety, bush beans will mature within 48-55 days.

WHERE TO PLANT

Full sun is best.

SOIL PREFERENCE

Bush beans prefer well drained, fertile soil. Consider adding compost to the soil before seeding.

bean seed in ground
Put seeds 1″ deep, 3″ apart with rows at least 2 feet apart.

SEED SPACING

Space seeds 3″ (7.5 cm) apart.

It’s okay to plant different varieties of bush beans together.

DEPTH OF SEED 

Plant 1″ (2.5 cm) deep.

ROW SPACING

Space rows 24″ (60 cm) apart. It looks like a lot when you put the seeds in the ground, but remember these beans are bushy!

COMPANION PLANTING

Plant beans next to: Carrots, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Marigolds, Corn

Don’t plant beans next to: Chives, Leeks, Garlic, Onions, Sunflowers

SPECIAL TIPS FOR PLANTING BUSH BEANS:

  • Consider continuous seeding so you can harvest bush beans for longer. Sow every 2 weeks until 8 weeks before fall frost.
  • Unlike peas, Do Not soak bean seeds before planting. Soaking them may cause them to split in half.
  • Bush beans can be susceptible to fungal disease, so stay out of the bean patch when it’s wet as this may transfer the fungus more.
  • Consistent moisture and keeping the bean patch weed free helps ensure a big harvest.
  • Bush beans can be planted in containers at least 15″ wide.
  • Remember, the more you pick, the more you’ll get. Even if you can’t keep up with eating them all, fresh beans are always welcomed by friends, family and food banks. Once you stop picking beans, the plant will stop producing new pods and whatever is left on the bush can be left to dry.
bush beans yellow
A quick bike trip to the garden to get beans for supper!

Here are some other How To’s to get your garden going this season:

When to Plant Different Vegetables

How to Plant Corn

How to Plant Kale

How to Plant Beets

How to Plant Onions

How to Plant Leeks

How to Plant Tomatoes

How to Plant Carrots

How to Plant Peas

How to Plant Garlic

Top 5 Herbs for Your Garden

Grow Your Own Seasoning Blend

Grow Your Own Herbal Teas

Share your favorite bean recipe in the comments below or share your photos and ideas with me on Instagram @getgettys or Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.

Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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