On our Vegetable Gardening Facebook page not too long ago, someone posted that they planted 9 bush bean plants in a single square for their square foot garden. If you are not familiar with square foot gardening, you read up on it here.
If you have ever planted bush beans then you might be thinking, wow that is quite a bit. I agree as well that does seem like a lot for such a small area, but some square foot gardeners swear by it. I have not tried it yet myself, but planting 9 bush beans in a square foot area is something I am going to experiment with in the future. For now I want to concentrate on the basics of how to grow bush beans.
There are a large number of bush bean varieties available for your vegetable gardening pleasures. The colors of bush bean plants are extensive as well. You do not need to simply default to planting green beans. Obviously whichever bush bean you choose to plant is up to you, but the growing instructions for bush beans, will be, for the most part, the same for all bush bean varieties.
Unlike the pole bean variety, bush beans are determinate. That means they will grow to a certain size and then stop. In other words, bush beans, grow in a bush. Go figure. However, also, unlike pole beans, bush beans do not last very long. They are great producers, but if you want beans from your bush plants all season long, stagger your bush bean plantings every 7 to 10 days. This will give you great production throughout your season.
Bush beans are quick growers, so in many areas of the world, starting bush bean seeds indoors is not really necessary. Some “experts” even say you should not start bean seeds indoors, however I have started bush bean seeds indoors in the past, and have not seen any ill affects on my bush beans. If you have a very narrow window of growing opportunity in your area, starting inside is not such a bad idea. Just do not move your bush bean plants outdoors until all frost subsides.
Bush beans love slightly acidic to neutral soil. That is 6.5 to 7.0 on the pH scale. Take a quick reading of your soil’s pH level and adjust accordingly.
You will get the most production from your bush beans if you plant them in area that receives a full day’s worth of sunlight. That is at least 8 hours. Bush beans will tolerate less, but your production may not be the same. Although, as mentioned earlier, square foot gardeners like to plant them 9 to a square foot, I like to take a more conservative approach and space my bush bean plants out every 6 inches in my vegetable garden.
When the bush bean plants are small, keeping the water moist will suffice. However, as they start producing beans, you will want to water them a bit more than usual.
Fertilize your bush bean plants every couple of weeks. Fish emulsion is a great organic fertilizer to use on your bush beans (as well as other plants in your vegetable garden).
When to harvest your bush beans will be based on the variety you chose to plant as the sizes will vary. So be sure to check the back of your seed packet for more harvesting information. As a decent rule of tumb, when the pods are a quarter inch to three eighths of an inch in diameter, they are about ready.
Because bush beans are prolific producers, you will have plenty to consume right away, and plenty to preserve for consumption, later in the year when you can not grow beans. If you are going to can beans, you must use a pressure canner. You can also freeze bush beans, however you will want to blanche them first. For either preservation method be sure to check the section below Additional Resources on How to Grow Bush Beans.
Additional Resources on How to Grow Bush Beans
How to Pressure Can Beans
How to Blanche Beans
Bush Beans From Seed to Harvest
Blanching Your Vegetable Harvest
How to Adjust Soil pH for Your Garden