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 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!
The Contender bush bean is a popular, easy going, and productive variety of garden bean. Chosen for its early harvests and tolerance to both cool weather and summertime heat, it’s also resistant to mildew and mosaic virus. Green, stringless pods are harvested at 6–8″ in length with a plump oval-shaped crosssection. Good for eating fresh, as well as cooking, freezing, or canning. The flavor is considered milder than other green beans.
Seed Depth: 1″
Space Between Plants: 4–6″
Space Between Rows: 12–36″
Germination Soil Temperature: 65–85°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.
Disease(s): Luckily, Contender Beans are resistant to the bean mosaic virus and tolerant of powdery mildew. Still, you gotta watch out for:
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!
Fun Fact: This variety of bean is also sometimes called Buff Valentine. Maybe you can share the love with your valentine by giving them some of your green bean bounty.
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.
Make these Pickled Green Beans with Rosemary and Lemon with all the extra beans that you’ll harvest this season.