Green beans are an easy to grow vegetable and produce a high-quality crop in the fall garden. With 10-13 weeks left before our first frost, there is still time to grow another crop of beans.
Fall crops of green beans are prized for their subtly sweet crisp, yet tender texture. They come in many shades of green, as well as yellow, purple and red. All are called "green" beans because they are picked and eaten at an immature stage, before the seeds have ripened completely.
Beans are in the legume plant family. The nodules on their roots absorb nitrogen from the air in soil and develop nitrogen powder. Their roots may be 3 feet deep, which loosens the subsoil, improving it for future crops. They are a great follow-up crop to heavy feeders such as spinach, sweet corn or broccoli.
You'll need a fast-maturing bush - 50 to 60 day - variety for fall planting. Some suggested ones are Derby, Festina, Greencrop, Half-Runner, Jade, Blue Lake, Maxibel, Provider, Purple, and Bush Romano. In our area, the dates to seed green beans are Aug. 15 to Sept. 15.
The planting site should be an area with eight or more hours of sunlight, well draining soil and ample air circulation. The topsoil must be moist before planting with a soil temperature of 70 to 85 degrees. The soil temperature earlier this week was 80 degrees.
In a single row, space seeds 6 inches apart, about an inch deep, with mulch and pathway on each side. Two, three or four rows are more efficient for the area, and their shade conserves moisture and reduces weeds. The rows may be 6 to 9 inches apart. After covering the seeds, press them into the soil with the flat side of a hoe.
The seeds may be pretreated with a fungicide to prevent diseases. If beans have not been grown in that location of the garden during recent years, the seeds should be inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria from a garden store or a seed catalog.
Keep the soil moist and seeds should germinate in about a week. The seedling stem emerges first in the form of an arch. Then, it pulls the two cotyledon leaves up through the topsoil. If the plants appear to be healthy - a rich green color - they may not require any fertilizer.
The harvest period for green beans is typically about 14 days. Gardeners can extend the harvest time by re-planting at two-week intervals.
Harvest the immature pods at the stage for the best flavor and most tender texture, that is, just before the seeds swell. Picking the beans requires both hands. One hand to hold the pod, and the other to cut or break the stem from the pod.
Visit these websites for additional information on home vegetable gardening and green beans:
- http://brazosmg.com/ gardening-resources/ vegetables