Green Beans and Peas

This Spring, I have grown Kentucky Pole (green) beans, Snow Peas and Sugar Snap Peas.

A tangled mess of sugar snaps and Kentucky pole green beans.

Best right off the vine

Sugar snaps are best right off the vine.

Bounty

Jake protects the harvest

snow peas

Green Beans: Green beans are a happy summer vegetable.

Factoid: green beans are not named so because they are green – in fact green beans can come in a variety of colors.  They are named green beans because they are eaten unripe.

Germinates: Seeds germinate in 1 to 2 weeks.  I have done well growing seedlings separately (if they are in a peat moss bag and I can transfer the entire thing) and direct sowing.

When to plant: Plant after all danger of Frost is gone.  In my neck of the woods, the average last Frost date is February 11th, although we sometimes have Frosts after that date.  For those doing multiple plantings, it may be prudent to stagger the plantings every two weeks beginning after the average last Frost date or by soil temperature.

Spacing: 4 to 6 inches apart.  But for square foot gardeners, 8 pole beans to a square foot or 8 bush beans.

Trellis: pole beans need a high trellis.  I used a tomato cage and it is most definitely not tall enough.  I am seeding more to place along my chain link fence.  Next year: space in the garden where the beans can grow tall!

Bush beans vs. pole beans: bush beans grow without support to a height of approximately two feet. They generally reach maturity and produce all of their fruit in a relatively short period of time, then cease to produce.  Gardeners may grow more than one crop of bush beans in a season.  Pole beans have a longer growth season but need a lot of trellis!

Companion Planting: Legumes host beneficial bacteria, rhizobia, that fix nitrogen in the soil — this is called a mutualistic relationship — and are therefore a useful companion plant, especially useful to grow intercropped with green, leafy vegetables that benefit from high nitrogen content in their soil.

Green beans help: corn, spinach, lettuce, rosemary, summer savory, dill, carrots, brassicas, radish, strawberry and cucumbers by adding nitrogen to the soil.  Highly recommended to plant a green bean with a corn that is at least six inches up as it will help corn grow by adding nitrogen to the soil, will “anchor” the corn to the soil and the corn provides a “trellis” for the bean to grow on.  (Note: the nitrogen can be too much for some plants).

Green beans are helped by carrots, eggplant and summer savory.

Avoid planting with: tomatoes, chili peppers, sunflowers, alliums (onions, garlic, etc), kohlrabi, beets.

Repels California beetles.

Marigolds repel the Mexican bean beetle.

Planting with potatoes will repel the Colorado potato beetle.  Potatoes repel the Mexican bean beetle.

Other predators: aphids.  Use horticulture oil.

Diseases: blight, rust and mildew.  Water the root – not the plant.

Time to harvest: 50-75 days, depending on type.

How to harvest: the smaller and younger, the better.  If you allow the pods to bulge with seeds, the plant will stop producing.  Break or cut the stem when harvesting.  Pulling on the plant will cause the plant to stop producing.

Storing: While freezing green beans is simple and quick and requires no special equipment, most people prefer to can green beans. This is because canned green beans have a much longer shelf life than do frozen green beans.  Frozen green beans stay good between 12 and 18 months in the freezer. Experts say that low acid canned foods such as green beans may be good up to 5 years. In order to ensure freshness any canned produce must be kept in a location that is cool and dry. You don’t want to put canned green beans where they are going to be exposed to extreme swings of temperature.

Sugar Snap and Snow Peas: Sugar snap peas are a cool weather (Spring and Fall) vegetable.

Factoid: Sugar snap peas were developed by crossing Chinese snow peas with a mutant shell pea plant.

Germinates: Seeds germinate in 1 to 2 weeks.  I have done well growing seedlings separately (if they are in a peat moss bag and I can transfer the entire thing) and direct sowing.

When to plant: Early Spring and in the Fall.

Spacing: 4 to 6 inches apart.  But for square foot gardeners, 8 plants to a square foot.

Trellis: Peas need a high trellis.  I used a tomato cage and it is most definitely not tall enough.  I am seeding more to place along my chain link fence.  Next year: space in the garden where the peas can grow tall!

Companions: As with all legumes, peas host beneficial bacteria, rhizobia, that fix nitrogen in the soil — this is called a mutualistic relationship — and are therefore a useful companion plant, especially useful to grow intercropped with green, leafy vegetables that benefit from high nitrogen content in their soil.

Peas grow well with carrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans and potatoes, as well as many aromatic herbs.

Avoid planting with onions, garlic and gladiolus.

Other predators: aphids.  Wood ash at base of plant repels aphids.

Diseases: powdery mildew.  Water the root – not the plant.

Time to harvest: 10 weeks.

How to harvest: the smaller and younger, the better.  If you allow the pods to bulge with seeds, the plant will stop producing.  Break or cut the stem when harvesting.  Pulling on the plant will cause the plant to stop producing.

Storing: Sugar snap peas can be frozen but not canned as high temperatures damage the pod.

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