I’m quite fond of bush green beans, and when we moved up in elevation I was hopeful I’d be able to grow them here. Most gardening books/resources suggest that beans need warmth to germinate and should be planted 1-2 weeks after last frost. It is also suggested that beans do not transplant well, and should always be sown directly in the ground; therefore giving them a head start indoors doesn’t seem feasible. My short season here is even shorter if seeds can’t go into the ground until after last frost, and the nights are still cool at that time which may hinder germination. Sounds like beans may be iffy, at best.
That said, using the soil-block system for starting seeds allows me to start seeds that are resistant to transplanting, since they won’t be disrupted much in the process. I DO start bean seeds indoors in the mini (2″) soil blocks, and this has worked very well. When I do this, I start the seeds about 10 days before I intend to transplant them outside. I don’t want them to get too much growth in the blocks so they won’t be disturbed too much during transplanting. Starting the seeds in blocks also affords me the advantage of being able to plant in nice, neat rows without empty spots where beans had not germinated. In late June, the beans are covered overnight after transplanting mid-June with our plastic sheeting over hoops. If it’s really cold on a given night, frost cloth is placed on top of the beans as well.
Bush Beans are a winner here. Because of our raised beds with hoops 3-4′ over the top, taller pole beans are not feasible in my garden. Since they do need to be covered, the shorter bush beans are my choice. Each season I dedicate at least one bed to bush beans. I have grown both French filet beans and snap green beans. I have in the past grown dry beans, but with limited space and the availability of good, organic dry beans at a low price, I don’t give them space in this garden.
A NEW TRIAL
2019 I thought I would try seeding some beans directly in the garden bed rather than starting them indoors, Speedy OP. I don’t know what came over me, and I will not do this again. I later put a few of these beans in the soil blocks and started them indoors to fill in the empty spots where there were no sprouts, and fortunately they were able to be harvested before frost. Those that sprouted and grew were very nice beans, and I might try this variety again, but will start them in blocks.
2020 I grew Speedy beans again, starting them in blocks indoors. They did very well and much better than the previous year….until the pack rats destroyed most of those that had not previously been harvested. Had I been able to harvest the remaining beans, I would have had quite a large harvest of these beans.
IN THIS GARDEN I HAVE GROWN:
Masai Hericots Verts | 58 Days – These were first harvested 88 days after transplant, and were delicious.
Mascotte Bean | 50 Days – These were harvested outdoors 100 days after transplant, however due to my injury they probably should have been harvested much sooner. They were a bit neglected.
Speedy Beans | 50 Days – These have grown abundant harvests in 62-68 days for the first harvest.
2019: I hadn’t thought I would want to use up too much space in the greenhouse for a crop like beans, thinking I would need to use too much space for them, but in April 2019 I dedicated an area about 30” x 8o” for beans. I had some leftover Mascotte seeds from the previous summer to plant. I knew they were compact plants, so I planted them pretty close together (maybe 6-8” apart). There were 40-50 plants in that spot. The description says that these plants will be 16-18” tall, but they hadn’t been that tall in my outdoor garden, and in the greenhouse they grew to maybe 10-12”. These little plants were PACKED with nice, tender, stringless beans. I harvested about 4.5 lbs of beans off these little plants. The beans should have nourished the soil, too, and I will definitely plan to grow these in the greenhouse again. 87 days from direct seeding to first harvest.
2020: I grew these beans in the greenhouse again in 2020 starting 1/23. Starting them this early meant it took a lot longer for them to grow to harvest. The first beans were nice, but having started them earlier with less natural light in the winter, it took them a LOT longer to reach maturity. 136 days from direct seeding to first harvest. After the first harvest, the remaining beans did not do well for some reason, and many shriveled up on the plants. I wanted the space for other things and lost patience waiting for more nice beans, so I ripped out the remaining plants and repurposed the area. I am not sure if I will grow beans in the greenhouse in the future. I may try a small amount of a different variety.
One year I decided to grow some dry beans, “Hutterite” beans, to see how well they might do. Generally, since this garden is smaller than our previous one, I don’t want to use up space with dry beans since they are so inexpensive and easy to buy. But, I wanted to give these beans a try. As it turned out, I got about 1 ½ cups of beans out of one bed. These beans grew well, but were slow to reach harvest, and were barely ready when freezing temperatures arrived. All plants were pulled up and hung in our crawl space until well dried. I don’t think I’ll be doing this again.