Beans & Peas

Larry G. Field
Thursday, March 21, 2019
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Beans are easily grown. I have grown many varieties of fresh and dried; dried are more work than justified, purchase them.

Select one or more varieties of bean seeds based on the package or seed catalog description and plant as instructed, normally 1/2 inch deep spaced 4 inches. Plant varieties to match the nationality of your planned cooking. If your goal is fresh/”green” beans, many prefer the taste of half grown pods. If you wish more yield, allow growth to the size of those sold by grocers. We harvest half grown for flavor when eating fresh and mature for freezing for more bulk.

Two tricks to reducing the work requirement of bean growing are to use a raised beds to eliminate the back breaking work of bending to work and harvest the product and planting yellow “wax” varieties for ease of spotting within the green foliage. Beans need heat and raised beds provide more.

My raised bed is 24 inches tall, 8 inches internal width and 7 feet long. This space, planted with a double row, provides beans for 50 pints of mixed vegetables, fresh and frozen beans. I can place a lawn chair by the 24” wall and pain-free harvest the multiple crops that will form.

I line the inside of the bed with sheet plastic to keep dirt and water in and wasps out. Hymenoptera love to nest in raised beds, design them free of holes & cavities. Leave the bottom of the bed open, in direct contact with other soil, for moisture, nutrient and earthworm movement.

When filling the bed with soil, I leave 2” unfilled to allow for flooding the bed when watering. A well constructed bed will last

ten or more years with periodic changing of the upper one foot of soil.

I plant the bed in a 3” spaced zigzag pattern along the south edge with wax beans. I allow as much growth as possible without interfering with a later second similar planting (green beans) along the north side of the bed. The second planting provides a longer harvest; the two should yield a seasonal harvest of 3-5 gallons of processed beans.

I plant bush beans, but pole beans are equally as good but require more space, trellises and are slightly more work.

When our beans begin to produce we eat them in the immature stage a few times, then we allow them to mature, process them, and freeze them in gallon bags. We continue to add to a given bag until full. We will save 2 or 3 gallons of beans for later processing into frozen mixed vegetables.

I do not grow peas. The work does not justify the expense or effort.

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