Prolific Pole Beans

comments (11) April 28th, 2012

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Photo by Robstepgaustralia under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

I love green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)  fresh from the garden and lightly steamed -- with butter if you must have the whole truth. Like many gardeners, I enjoy trying my hand at various vegetable varieties and always add several new -to-me varieties to the garden each year. Beyond the obvious darlings of the kitchen garden (tomatoes), I love planting various green bean varieties. I don't like to discriminate, yet while I'll grow any type of bean; the pole beans are my favorites.

Some may disagree, but I find that the pole varieties have a sweeter, more tender flavor than their bushy cousins, plus I get about twice the amount of harvest from them. This is because bush beans flower and produce fruit all at once (much like determinate tomato plants) and the pole beans just keep climbing and producing (like indeterminate tomato plants).

Unlike the bush varieties you need to offer pole beans some kind of climbing support such as a trellis, netting, fence, etc. In fact, I've planted them at the base of my hoop compost bins, which end up hiding the unattractive wire with blossom-covered vines and dangling pods. Or I'll create a tee-pee using four tall poles lashed together at the top, legs spread out, and the beans planted at the base of the poles.

Growing Pole Beans

Beans can be started indoors several weeks before the last frost date, but they do so well planted directly in the garden that I don't bother starting them early. Plant your seeds about 1" deep (or twice as deep as they are long) once the soil reaches 60-70 degrees (the warmer the better). If you're planting them at the base of a trellis, plant them about 3" apart from one another. When I'm building a tee-pee, I plant the seeds a couple of inches apart in a circle around the base of each pole.

They enjoy a fairly nutritional soil (not necessarily excessively fertile) that's situated in an area that receives full sun. I always toss compost into the area where my seeds will be planted and after the seedlings are several inches tall I add mulch. Seeds should be watered lightly until the seedlings pop up. Once the seedlings emerge, keep the soil moist at all times.

Pole beans should be watered moderately but once they begin to flower, kick up the watering a notch until the beans are harvested.  Speaking of harvesting; bean production will be at its best if you collect your green bean bounty regularly. Pole beans tend to stay tender on the vine longer than bush beans, but for the best flavor don't push it.

Pole Bean Varieties

Here's a list of some delicious pole bean varieties to try on your garden this year. If you've grown one or more of these varieties in your garden, please leave a comment below telling us where you are and how the variety did in your little corner of the gardening world.

  • Lazy Housewife -- Introduced in 1810, Lazy Housewife was said to be the first stringless green bean. Delicious and very productive. (75-80 days)
  • Rattlesnake Pole -- This variety will grow to 10' tall and produces 7"-10" dark green pods with purple streaks. Great plant for hot zones and sandy soils.  (73-90 days)
  • Purple Podded Pole -- Prolific producer with 5"-7" stringless, purple pods. While cooking, the pods turn bright green. (68 days)
  • Blue Lake Stringless -- Blue Lake produces 6" long pods that are prolific producers setting pods from the top of the plant all the way to the bottom. (63 days)
  • Scarlet Runner -- Best grown in cooler weather than most pole beans enjoy. It produces gorgeous, ornamental blossoms and vines reach 10' tall. (80 days)
  • Romano Pole -- This is a gourmet bean variety with thick, tender, and stringless pods. (70 days)
  • Trionfo Violetto Pole -- Stringless, with beautiful lavender blossoms and leaves with purple veining. Produces purple pods that turn green while cooking. Nutty, sweet flavor. (60 days)
  • Kentucky Wonder Pole -- One of the most popular pole beans for home gardens. It's a heavy producer with good flavor (66 days)


posted in: growing pole beans

Comments (11)

Arthorbrown writes: great job
Posted: 12:18 am on November 9th
KlaasNelen writes: nice.
Posted: 1:08 am on November 8th
samcross writes: Its wonderful vegetable.
Posted: 5:43 am on October 8th
Onzaleelvir writes: I love green beans!
Posted: 3:09 am on September 15th
karlhardy55 writes: Superb
Posted: 5:50 am on July 28th
Robzikshi writes: This is great work done
Posted: 2:59 am on May 21st
Omi0320 writes: I planted Kentucky Wonder green beans and a bush variety. All in early March. The seedlings were started in early February inside. The bush have produced quite a bit already. The kentucky is still climbing (only 3 pods so far). I made the mistake of not giving them enough area to climb. All were planted in a straw bale. feel free to look at the pix on Omi Ross Facebook page. Please note that I planted 1/2 seedlings and 1/2 seeds of each variety in the bales. Both have done very well. Both taste really good - even raw. :-)
Posted: 1:12 pm on May 11th
Shanta1 writes: One needs to know if the seeds are GMO, Hybrid or haratage. These are critical for our choses in edible foods and foods that we can save the save the seeds from.GMO seed produce foods you don't own and are toxic to all life. Feeding it to animals caouses sterilaty, organ falure, lose of size. growing it kells our bees and other polinators. This one is especialy importnat as I am a bee breeder and it effects me and my bees directly. for more info and links.
Posted: 11:14 am on May 9th
yardener writes: Without a doubt, Kentucky Wonder is our favorite. We plant it along fences in May and a second bunch in early July.
They are our favorite green bean but they are also our favorite soup bean.
We have to make sure we put enough out to have fresh and yet leave enough to dry on the vine. We probably cover about 70 feet of fence.
I've always liked experimenting with other varieties, but with the reliablity of Kentucky Wonders, I'm not willing to take a chance.
Posted: 6:41 am on May 4th
Ruth writes: Nice post, Chris. I'm a big fan of pole beans, too. What I usually do is plant some bush beans about May 15 (dragon langerie and filet beans), and then a main crop of pole beans early to mid July after after the snow peas and snap peas finish. Current favorites are rattlesnake, blue coco, and romano. See for some photos.
Posted: 9:18 am on May 1st
MikeTheGardener writes: I planted a "boatload" of pole beans this year ... Kentucky's, Blue Lake and Romano .. hope the neighbor's like beans ... lol
Posted: 7:32 am on April 30th
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