Growing Green Beans

By Lisa Ray, The Gardening Advisor, And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden… Gen. 2:8

According to The Farmer’s Almanac, April  12-17 is the best time to plant beans for zone 6.  There are many varieties to choose from, and you have to decide if you want bush or pole beans.  Beans like humusy but not excessively fertile soil; pH 6.0-7.5.

 Sow seed after frost danger is past.  Seeds sown too early in cold wet soil will rot before germinating.  Sow bush snap beans about 1 inch deep and 3 inches apart in single or double rows.  Keep well weeded, or mulch. 

Regular watering will increase yield; thorough watering is critical when beans are in flower.  Bush snap beans bear heavily but only for a few weeks.  To assure steady supply, make several small plantings 3-4 weeks apart, ending 2 months before the first fall frost.  Pole beans need something to grown up, like a trellis.  Sow seeds at the base of the trellis the same as bush beans.  Pole beans yield over a longer period of time, but the care is the same as bush beans. 

Mexican bean beetles can be serious pests from mid-season onward; early plantings are usually less troubled.  Row covers help exclude these pests.  Stay out of the bean patch when the plants are wet to avoid spreading bean rust. 

Beans mature in 42-55 days, depending in the species and cultivar.  Harvest at any size, but before seeds have begun to swell noticeable inside the pod.  Can, freeze, or pickle snap beans, or leave pods on the plant to mature fully.  The beans will dry and use as you would any dried bean.  If the bean is an heirloom, you can replant the seeds the next year. 

Question

     Q:  Do pumpkin seeds have to be dried before they are viable? We bought a big pumpkin with a nice, tall stem in late September or early October in Sharp
County last fall and it was so pretty we used it as an ornament first on our front porch, then on our kitchen table. After we moved it inside, we put a cap and sunglasses on it and named it Clem.  It lasted all winter but started getting a little soft on the bottom about a month ago and we had to remove the cap and sunglasses and put it outside under the edge of a hedge. Now Clem has melted down.  Will seeds sprout from the pumpkin’s remains, or should we hunt through the remains and find some seeds and dry near a stove? If we dry them out, are some likely to sprout this spring if planted?  Or, if we just take some of the moist seeds and plant them, will they sprout? Which way do we go here? 

A:  You should hunt through the remains of Clem and find some large firm seeds. Spread them on a box top out of direct sun and let them dry.  After danger of frost, sow three seeds to a hill, in hills 4-5 feet apart.  But, if the pumpkin was a hybrid, the pumpkins will not resemble Clem at all.  Let’s hope the pumpkin was an heirloom, so you can plant and collect the seeds every year.

Tips

When buying seedlings for your garden, look for healthy green plants with lush foliage.  Reject tall, leggy seedlings in favor of short, full plants.  Upright, annual vegetables that are planted individually, like peppers, tomatoes, or broccoli, should be limited to one stem per pot or cell.  Extra seedlings may look like a bargain, but it’s easy to damage both plants if you attempt to separate them, and the vigor of both plants will be compromised if you plant them together.  Pots of vegetable like cucumbers or pumpkins, which are usually planted in hills, can hold only a few small seedlings.  Leafy crops like lettuce aren’t fussy about plant spacing; they can be started, planted, and harvested in clumps.

The soil in the seedling pots should be moist but not soggy.  Roots should be well developed, but not so much that they’ve filled the pot.  It’s normal for a few threads of root to escape the pot, but avoid transplants with solid masses of tightly woven roots.  Also check the seedlings for signs of insect pests or disease symptoms.  The presence of beneficial, like ladybugs, might indicate a recent pest problem, but it’s better to take home the beneficials that the residue of pesticides.  Look for webs, insect droppings, or signs of damage like ragged holes or spotty leaves.  Pass up seedlings with discolored or wilted leaves.  Look for identification labels, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the seedling stages of vegetables.  Closely related vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage look alike.

Make sure the seedlings have been hardened off (gradually acclimatized to outdoor conditions).  If the seedlings you buy have been in a warm greenhouse, you’ll have to introduce them slowly to the cool or hot outdoors. 

Once you get the seedlings home, make sure that you keep them watered if you are unable to transplant them to the garden immediately.  Place them out of the direct sun.  Keep a close eye on the weather, and be ready to bring them indoors if a thunderstorm or frost threatens.

Old-Time Garden Advice

Avoid placing rose-colored next to scarlet, orange, or violet.  Do not place orange next to yellow, or blue next to violet.  White relieves any color, but do not place it next to yellow.  Orange goes well with blue, and yellow with violet.  Rose color and purple always go well together.   – The Gardener’s Monthly, 1874

Recipe

Potato and Green Beans

4 red potatoes, whole or half
1 Lb. fresh green beans
1-2 teaspoons bacon drippings
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Put bacon drippings (chopped bacon opt.) and potatoes in a medium sauce pan. Pour green beans over potatoes and sprinkle garlic powder on top.   Cover and cook over medium low for about 15 minutes or until done.   Stir and enjoy!  4 servings.

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