Bush beans, also called string beans, wax beans, and green beans, are some of the most commonly grown types of beans in the US due to their wide assortment of varieties that differ in color, taste, and space requirements. Bush beans are generally considered to be easy to grow as they have low fertilization requirements and are resistant to many types of pests and diseases that plague other plants. Most bush bean varieties can be harvested at any stage as snap beans, shell beans, or dry beans; however, some varieties do better than others in different stages, so it’s a good idea to know how you want to eat your beans before choosing your seeds!
Originally developed from the Blue Lake pole bean, the Blue Lake bush bean is a low-maintenance veggie for the beginner gardener. Considered a standard for green beans, Blue Lake bush beans have a dark green hue and a distinct seam down the middle. Easy to grow and resistant to the bean common mosaic virus, this variety sports plump and juicy 6″ beans without requiring trellising or poles. Like other bean varieties, bush beans prefer warmer weather. Make sure to keep your plants well-picked to ensure maximum production.
Seed Depth: 1″
Space Between Plants: 2–6″
Space Between Rows: 12″
Germination Soil Temperature: At least 60°F
Days to Germination: 7–10
Sow Indoors: Not recommended. Bean plants do not like to be transplanted.
Sow Outdoors: Seeds can be sown outdoors anytime after last spring frost.
Bush beans prefer warmer weather, particularly in the earlier stages of growth, so in most climates you’ll want to plant during the late spring or early summer months when the soil temperature is at least 60°F. In extremely hot climates, plant beans in the summer for a fall harvest, adding a loose layer of mulch to keep the soil cool while the seedlings emerge if necessary.
Natural: Full Sun.
Artificial: Not recommended for starting seeds, but if growing indoors, use strong lamps such as HIDs since beans require a good deal of light.
Soil: Prefers a sandy or loamy soil that is well-drained to prevent root rot. A pH of 6.0 will keep plants healthy and nourished.
Soilless: Will thrive in various soilless mixes, including a blend of peat and perlite.
Hydroponic: Thrives in a variety of hydroponic systems.
Aeroponic: Will thrive in aeroponic systems.
Water: Requires low to moderate levels of water. Water levels should be kept low in the early stages of growth and then increased through flowering and harvest.
Nutrients: A non-fussy variety, bush beans require only moderate levels of fertilization if soil quality is poor. Beans produce their own nitrogen, so if you wish to use a fertilizer, select one that is lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorous and potassium.
Pruning: Keep bean plants well picked for maximum productivity.
Mulching: Use mulch to keep soil moist and suppress weeds.
Rotation: A 3- or 4-year rotation will reduce susceptibility to diseases in the soil. Plant just before or after heavy nitrogen consumers like corn, since bush beans will fix nitrogen into depleted soils.
Companions: Grows well with beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, marigolds, peas, radishes, rosemary and sunflowers. Avoid basil, members of the onion family, and kohlrabi.
Harvest: Should be harvested when the beans are firm and snap easily off the plant. Beans can be harvested by hand, but be careful: a heavy tug can break the plant. Pick every week or so to keep the plants producing.
Storage: Beans will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks if kept dry. Keep in mind that beans will grow tougher over time, even if they are stored properly, so the sooner they’re eaten, the better!
History: While many traditions and traits have come to North America from other parts of the world, bush beans and their ancestors were actually introduced to Europe by the Spanish who collected the plants while on conquests and adventures in the “Brave New World.”
Fun Fact: An old favorite, the Blue Lake variety was first cultivated in the Blue Lake district of California in the early 1900s.
Preserve: Pickling green beans in vinegar is a common way to preserve them. Add a sprig of dill for a more flavorful “dilly bean.” They can also be frozen by first blanching in hot water and freezing in an airtight bag. Bush beans may also be shelled and frozen.
Prepare: Whether you are eating them fresh out of the garden or baking them into a casserole, green beans are a versatile vegetable that does well in most recipes. Before cooking, trim off the top part of the bean attached to the stem as it can be tough even after cooking.
Nutritional: A good source of carbohydrates, vitamin(s) A, C, and K, folate, and manganese.
Medicinal: The nutrients found in green beans are cited as being beneficial to the heart, colon, and general stomach health.
To wow friends, try this Best Vegan Green Bean Casserole.