Down to Earth – Growing Beans

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Contributing Writer Joanne Tanner
Joanne Tanner, Jamestown Gazette Contributing Writer

Each garden season brings a new batch of seed introductions from the world’s plant breeders. New varieties of vegetables and flowers are developed or found every year. Seed companies have time and money invested and they want to sell the seed but sometimes these new varieties just don’t pan out. But that is not the case with a new bean variety according to John Scheepers of Kitchen Garden Seeds.

I am told a new variety of green bean has proven to be remarkable! It’s called “Jade Green Bush Bean.” Jade Green’s slender and six to seven inch long, dark green pods are sweet and tasty. The plants are sturdy and at 24 inches high they are tall enough to hold the beans up off the ground, keeping them clean and dry. Disease, mildew and blight resistance is a definite plus with this new variety. It is also said to be high yielding for weeks and weeks. Or try their Tri-Color Snap Bush Bean Mixture which includes Jade Green, Purple Queen (rich burgundy-purple) and Gold Rush (deep golden-yellow).

I normally grow a variety called ‘Emerite’, but I think these varieties would be worth trying. They would make an excellent 3-Bean Salad and would be perfect for a children’s garden because they are colorful. Don’t forget to include the kids in growing and making your salad.

Beans are extremely easy and fun to grow with little fuss. All you need is a trellis and very little space and you’ve got high yields of a well liked vegetable crop that even a child could grow.

Simple tips for growing beans

  1. They are very easy to grow. Just remember beans do not like the cold. They will not tolerate frost and if the ground is not warmed up sufficiently in the spring, the seed will rot in the ground. The best time is about 2 weeks after last frost date which is approximately Memorial Day. This is always my rule with the vegetable garden. To get a jump start on germination I use this trick… wet a paper towel until it is damp (not dripping), place bean seeds you are going to plant, on top of the wet towel. Now place the wet paper towel on a dry paper towel and roll it up like a tube. Then place this tube in a glass jar. Make sure seed is damp and check regularly each day to see if the seeds have sprouted. Once sprouted, plant the seed in the ground. This simple step can speed up germination by up to 2 weeks compared to direct sowing in the ground.
  2. Beans do not like to be wet so choose a spot that is well drained to grow your beans. After planting, water the area thoroughly. Hold off watering again until the soil is nearly dry. Bean leaves can be susceptible to many diseases so water only at soil level keeping the leaves dry. Avoid harvesting the beans when the foliage is wet. Remember beans are a nitrogen fixing plant (meaning they actually put nitrogen into the soil) so a good place to plant would be around heavy feeding plants like tomatoes or corn.
  3. Pick or harvest your beans often and thoroughly. Since this is an annual vine, if a pod is missed and allowed to mature, the plant thinks it’s’ job is done and it will stop producing. So rule of thumb, “the more you pick the more it will produce.”

Beans are easy to store by the freezer method. You need only to blanch for 3 minutes; (blanching: drop vegetable in boiling water for 3-mins., cool immediately in ice water to stop the cooking process) drain and place in zip lock vacuum sealed bags and place in the freezer.

Here is a Bean recipe from Kitchen Garden Seeds:

Using Green Beans, Blanche freshly harvested beans, drain and bring to room temperature. In a large bowl, gently toss the beans with finely sliced red onions, pitted Kalamata olives, cubes of Feta cheese, halved Sun gold tomatoes and red kidney beans dressed with your favorite, zesty vinaigrette (you may top it with mandarin orange sections too if you like). Serve with a crusty baguette.

Before purchasing seed from any company I look for this pledge or something similar:

The Safe Seed Pledge
“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.”

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds has this pledge. It is from The Safe Seed Initiative and the Council for Responsible Genetics.