Beans are an easy-to-grow, productive and nutritious warm-season crop. Eaten cooked or raw, they are an excellent source of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and micronutrients.
Preparing the Soil
Beans prefer a slightly acidic soil between pH 6.5–5.5 (learn how to use a soil pH test kit). They need full sun and a well-drained, friable soil. At least two weeks before planting, loosen the soil to 15–20cm deep, breaking up any large clods. Add Searles Real Organic Compost to a depth of about 10cm. Beans are not heavy feeders; in fact, they will fix their own fertiliser (nitrogen) in the soil. If the soil is too fertile they will likely produce too many leaves at the expense of beans. If beans are growing too slowly, a fortnightly dose of Seamax Organic Fish & Kelp Fertiliser should tune up the soil around the plants.
Beans are available either as ‘climbers’ or ‘bush beans’. Climbing beans grow vertically and can produce large volumes of beans in relatively little garden space. They can be ideal for sunny courtyards and smaller gardens.
Beans can be easily grown from either seed or seedlings and handle transplanting well. In cool or mountain areas, make sure the last frost has passed before planting. Space plants as recommended on the seed packet or punnet — avoid planting them too closely as overcrowding can encourage fungal diseases.
Do not repeatedly plant beans in the same garden bed — practice crop rotation as this will maintain soil fertility and avoid soil-borne diseases. Beans should be planted after ‘flowering’ crops like broccoli and cauliflower and should be followed by ‘leafy’ vegetables like lettuce, cabbage and silverbeet.
When to plant
Late spring to early autumn, winter in the tropics. Beans dislike extreme cold.
Keep beans moist, but not wet while they are growing and water the roots of the plant, not the foliage or flowers. A dripper system and a layer of mulch can be ideal. Alternatively, dig a trench between rows and water it deeply once a week.
Beans are heavy croppers and harvest can begin when they are very small. The more beans you pick, the more they will produce and well-maintained plants can keep cropping for months.How to Grow Organic Vegies in Pots How to Grow Sweet Corn