Beans, Peas, and More

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Kentucky Wonder pole beans

The word “bean” has existed in common use since before the 12th century. Beans are pod-borne seeds. Bean seeds are easy to plant, easy to grow, and take very little care. Reaching full maturity in 50–55 days, they produce all summer.

Pole beans develop slowly as they crawl up their pole, and they mature in different stages. Bush beans, a relatively recent invention of modern times, do not require staking and are planted in rows and come in all at once. If you want “bush” type beans all summer, then you can plant them successively — say every two to three weeks — for a continuous crop.

Promptly harvesting your beans at maturity will encourage them to produce more beans. Beans like loamy soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5. Don’t over-fertilize or you will get a lot of leaf growth on the plant but little produce.

Bush-type beans

I have chosen “blue lake” Stringless Pole Beans, Roma II Bush Beans, Provider Bush Beans, and Dixie Lee Peas to plant from seed this year. Pole beans are great for a small garden, as they grow vertically. Plant your seeds about 1 inch deep and every 3 inches. The Roma beans are a bush type, and I thin them to about 1 foot apart once they get up out of the ground. The Provider bean is a productive snap bush bean, which can be eaten right out of the garden.

This year I will try the Dixie Lee peas planted in their own bed. They are a bush plant and thrive on neglect, my type of plant. The pods are long and thin. The pods will dry out, turn brown in the summer heat, and crack open. Then you can shell the peas. Store as a dry bean for soups and stews and enjoy them this winter. Bush beans are great to start a crop in late August for a fall harvest.

Beans can get pests and diseases. Mulching helps to keep the diseases at bay. When you water overhead and the soil is splashed up on the plants, it is the soil that can spread the viruses or the diseases. When the garden heats up in July, the bugs will have found your beans or your squash. Once you see bean bugs or squash borers, get rid of your plants. Don’t let those bugs have babies and spread. They multiply quickly and are not what you want on your plants or in your garden. I try to garden organically, so when I find a diseased plant or a squash vine full of borers, I just pull the plants up and discard the plants. Do not compost a plant with a disease.

I recently learned of Ruth Stout, a now 94-year-old gardener who has a multitude of YouTube videos. She calls her method of gardening the “no work” garden method. I encourage you to watch her. Her videos have some wonderful ideas. She reminds me of my grandmother from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

I like to plant my seeds and plants that grow above ground in the waxing moon. This is when the moon is on the increase or moving from new moon to full moon. This is the time for growth as the light of the moon stimulates the seed to sprout. This is the process of photosynthesis, where leaves turn light into sugar, which feeds them and makes them grow. It is an amazing process. As a favorite writer of mine, Mark Nepo, puts it, “Something in our very nature knows where the light is, even when we can’t see it.” We are like the tiny seed buried in the ground straining to come to the surface of ourselves.

See you in the garden.


Kathy Slayter is a Greenville Realtor and Clemson-certified Master Gardener who is passionate about growing, cooking and eating her homegrown food. Contact her at kathyslayter@gmail.com.

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