Beans: Easy To Grow & Great To Eat

Beans come in different shapes, colors and sizes. They're easy to grow, and you won't believe the bounty of choices that are now available. From bush beans to pole beans, you'll be surprised just how easy it is to bring them from the garden to the kitchen!

Supplies for growing beans:

bean seeds
garden inoculant
plastic bag
spray bottle (with water)
soil thermometer
peat moss, cow manure, compost (to enrich the soil)
bean poles grouped into teepees

The site for your beans should get full sunshine for at least eight hours a day. And before you plant the beans, it's important that you enrich the soil. For that I suggest tilling in some peat moss, cow manure and compost. And then finally you want to make sure the soil is warm enough. That's very important. It should be at least 60 degrees F (15 degrees C). Typically when the lilacs are in bloom, that's an indication the soil is warming up. But just to be sure, you can spend about $15 and pick up a nifty soil thermometer. Stick it in and make sure your soil is cooking … then your beans are ready to go in!

Beans will do really well with a good shot of nitrogen. The cool thing about them is that they actually pull nitrogen from the air! You can speed up this process: put the seeds in a plastic bag or jar, lightly spray them water and shake on a little of the inoculant. Whatever nitrogen the plant doesn't use will be left in the soil for the next generation of plants. Now we're ready to get planting!

To plant a hedge of bush beans that will surround a teepee, start by planting the beans an inch and a half deep, and space each one about six inches apart.

If you amended your soil beforehand, they should do fine without any additional fertilizer. Just be sure to keep them weeded and well watered. Your beans should take about four months to mature, wilt and dry out.

By the end of the season, if you do everything correctly, you should end up with the bush beans dying back, and the pole beans wilting--but that's the whole point. It's an indication that the beans are ready to be harvested! But you can tell for sure simply by picking one of the beans. The shell should be dry and crispy and some of the beans may actually rattle inside the pod when you shake it. Now you can extract them by popping open the pod and pulling out the beans. The beans should be nice and hard. You want to keep these in an air-tight container and store them in a dry location.

And here's a tip for when you're ready to cook your beans: Before you cook the beans, be sure to soak them in water a minimum of four hours and then discard the water. That will help curb some of the gaseous nasty side effects beans are well known for!

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