14 Essential Tips for a Bountiful Bean Harvest This Season

Beans are my favorite thing to grow in the garden each year. You can stick them pretty much anywhere with adequate sunlight and then just forget that they exist until they start producing copious amounts of fresh beans. They come in endless varieties and colors to try.

In some ways, it’s a bit silly even to write a guide for growing them, but what I’ve actually found over the years is that there are some key tricks, tips, and secrets to ensure you get the best and most productive bean harvest ever. From the obvious to the genuinely surprising, here are the essential things you must know about growing garden beans this season.

Choose the Right Variety

Green and purple beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Select bean varieties that best meet your taste preferences and gardening style. Bush beans, such as ‘Provider’ or ‘Blue Lake’, are ideal for those who prefer a concentrated harvest period, suitable for canning or freezing. Pole beans like ‘Kentucky Wonder’ or ‘Scarlet Runner’ continue producing for several weeks and are excellent for gardeners who prefer a steady supply of fresh beans.

Plant at the Right Time

Man holding large purple bean pods.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Beans require warm soil to germinate effectively, so timing your planting after the last frost is crucial. This typically means waiting until the soil consistently reaches at least 60°F. Using a soil thermometer can help you pinpoint the optimal planting time.

You can start beans 1-2 weeks ahead of time and transplant them if you wish — I have never bothered with this.

Prepare the Soil

Fresh green beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Beans will grow and thrive in poor soils because they can fix their nitrogen for their own use. But there is no harm in adding an inch or so of compost if you have it to spare.

We prep our growing beds each year by adding an inch of compost to them in the fall and then adding extra compost to the planting holes in the spring. Although beans fix their nitrogen, they still benefit from phosphorus and potassium, which support their growth and pod production.

Sow Seeds Properly

Purple beans in garden basket.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

For bush beans, sow seeds directly into the soil, spacing them about 2 inches apart in rows that are 18 to 24 inches apart. Sow seeds about 1 to 2 inches deep, depending on soil type; deeper in light, sandy soils and shallower in heavy, clay soils. For pole beans, space seeds about 3 inches apart in rows, with a sturdy trellis or support system in place to accommodate their climbing nature.

Water Wisely

Green beans in garden basket.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Beans thrive with consistent moisture, especially when flowering and developing pods. Aim for about 1 inch of water per week, either through rainfall or supplemental watering. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to apply water directly to the soil, minimizing moisture on the leaves and reducing the risk of disease.

Provide Support for Pole Beans

Beans in garden.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Set up a trellis, bamboo poles, or netting for pole beans when planting. The structure should be at least 6 feet tall, which allows the vines ample room to grow and makes harvesting easier. Ensure it’s sturdy enough to support the weight of the vines as they mature.

I love growing Chinese yard-long beans over an arched trellis.

Learn More: 20 Veggies & Fruits You Should Grow Vertically

Mulch to Conserve Moisture

Green beans and purple beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Mulch helps maintain soil moisture, keeps weed growth in check, and stabilizes soil temperature. It also protects the soil and soil microbes from UV damage. Mulching is actually one of the best things you can do in your garden and many no-till growers like us keep our beds mulched continuously year round with all sorts of organic materials.

Why? Because it can help you create the best growing conditions possible.

Learn More: Benefits Of Mulch In Your Garden {Ultimate Guide To Mulching}

Stick Bush Beans Everywhere

Pink and white beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Stick a bush bean seed everywhere you see a spare spot. Seriously. Maximize your growing space and grow heaps of food to prepare fresh or preserve. Beans are hardy, adaptable plants that will grow under conditions that would fell weaker or more particular plants.

To Fertilize or Not to Fertilize

French beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

The advice you often hear is never to fertilize your garden beans because they fix their own nitrogen. Over-fertilizing will reduce bean pod production and create more leafy growth.

And this is true — if you fertilize at the wrong time.

Fertilize your green beans once, after the first set of true leaves have emerged from the growing seedlings. This is optional, but if you have poor soils or are growing in partial-shade, this can really give you a huge boost of production.

Speaking of Shade

Green Chinese yard long beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Beans can be grown in partial shade! They may mature slower and produce less but still produce a significant amount of beans in partial shade.

Harvest Continuously For More Beans

Yellow beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Want to grow copious amounts of beans? Harvest them as soon as they emerge and are big enough to use.

As your beans grow, picking the pods as soon as possible signals to the plant to produce more and more. Keep going until the plant is spent. If you’re growing beans for dry storage, this doesn’t apply.

Keep an Eye on Pests

Freshly picked green, yellow, and purple beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Monitor your plants regularly for signs of pests. Common bean pests include Mexican bean beetles, spider mites, and aphids. Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs or use floating row covers to protect the plants if pests are present.

Learn More: 11 Trap Plants You Should Be Growing To Help Deter Pests

Store & Preserve

Garden green beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Green beans can be blanched and frozen for eating all year long. They can also be pressure-canned for shelf-stable storage. If you’ve never tried making fermented vegetables, fermented green beans are a real treat that will stay fresh in their brine for months on end and be a source of probiotics.

Recipe: Rustic Green Bean Soup {Mahuna}

End-of-Season Care

Green beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Leave the roots to wither and die, enrich and aerate the soil. We chop-and-drop the spent plants as another form of mulch, though diseased plants should be removed and discarded.

By adhering to these detailed tips and maintaining vigilant care throughout the growing season, you can enjoy an abundant and healthy harvest of bush and pole beans.

Learn More: Chop-And-Drop Mulch For The Healthiest Plants & Soil

Vegetables That Can Grow in Partial Shade

Speckled red and white beans.

Beans will produce pods in partial shades, and so will these other vegetables.

Learn More: 32 Vegetables You Can Grow in Partial Shade

A Survival Garden Guide

Dried beans.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements.

Beans are one of the top plants for a survival garden.

Learn More: Ultimate Survival Garden Guide {27 Best Crops}

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