How to Grow Beans

Learn how to grow beans as well as how to harvest these climbing plants.

| May 28, 2013

You can grow your own vegetables whether you own your own home or live in an apartment. Author Karin Eliasson gives advice on growing over 100 vegetables as well as how to use them in the kitchen. In this excerpt taken from Greens! (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013) learn how to grow beans, from haricot verts to broad beans.

You can purchase this book at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Greens!.

The Bean-man — he was quite a mystery; one of those people that showed up out of nowhere with an interest in beans and created a space where he could cultivate his interest. I was an apprentice at Rosendal’s Garden in Stockholm at that time and that is where I met him. “This is the Bean-man,” one of the garden masters said. “If there’s anything he doesn’t know about beans, it is not worth knowing.” And that was really true. He gave a lecture about beans for us at Rosendal. When he was standing there in the row of his flag-high plants, it was with a loving touch that he showed us red-striped borlotti beans from Italian seeds. He told us about the darkest purple bean he had ever seen, almost black, and about an almost 12 inch (30 cm) long wax bean of the variety “Neckar Gold.”

His enthusiasm was contagious. That late summer, when every day between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. was spent on harvesting for stores and kitchens, I preferred to disappear in the rows of bush beans. Despite the fact that I got both wet and cold from the caress of the plants along my legs, I liked this corner of the garden. To carefully move the leaf aside with my left hand and pick long rows of purple beans with my right hand. They kept giving that summer, the beans.

I still like beans and peas and I can’t decide if I like the plants the best or the actual harvest. These plants invite you to be imaginative. And the result is purple-colored bean towers, circles of sugar snaps with sunflowers in the middle, heavy mesh walls of tall growing peas that separate the cosmos from the dill and verbena. I love climbing plants! They add another dimension to the garden and they save room on the ground. It is perfect for those who lack space.

The challenge is not finding varieties, but deciding among them. You can begin by deciding if you want peas or beans for fresh-consumption — like broad beans and wax beans, sugar peas, marrowfats, blauwschokkers, and haricot verts — or if you’d like to dry your harvest or store it. In that case you should choose a borlotti bean and a garden pea. After this you can also decide if you want a tall-growing plant or a shorter variety, depending on the cultivation conditions. And then you can choose the color and shape among the ones that emerge.

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