Five Easy Bush Bean Varieties for the Home Grower
Bush Beans Vs. Pole Beans
I've grown both bush types and pole types, and both have performed well for me. I'd have to say bush types are much easier for me because they take up less space, mature fast and grow great in containers. I think if you are a gardener with little experience, bush are a great choice to add to your summer vegetable garden.
The common name "bean" originally referred to the seed of the Fava or Broad Bean, but was later used to describe those genus related to the Native American beans like Scarlet Runner Beans and other old heirloom varieties of soybeans, peas and chickpeas (aka Garbanzo Beans).
Unlike peas, beans are a summer crop that require warm soil temps in order to grow. Most beans mature in 55 to 70 days depending on the variety. Pole beans need a support structure for good growth. Many Native Americans grew their pole beans with corn and squash plants. The corn would provide a climbing structure for the beans and the squash would act as a mulch to keep soil moisture in. This technique is commonly referred to as the Three Sisters Technique.
Bush beans do not require such support, nor do the need to be grown with corn or squash. They work well in compact areas and containers, growing to a mature height of 15 to 20 inches.
Which type of beans have you grown or will grow in your garden?
Beans are one of the longest cultivated plants, with broad beans (fava beans) having been cultivated and gathered wild in Afghanistan and the Himalayan mountains since 700 BCE, which actually predates ceramic making in that region.
They were later brought to Egypt around 200 BCE and aside from inclusion in their everyday diet, bean seeds were commonly buried with their dead.
In the Americas, the oldest known cultivation of beans occurred around 200 BCE in Peru, found in a cave by archeologists.
Beans were an important source of protein for ancient people, especially when meat was scarce.
Five Excellent Bush Bean Varieties
I've experimented a lot in my garden and always challenge myself to grow something new or different each summer. Here are a list of 5 bush bean types that have done extremely well for me and are easy for the home grower.
Dragon's Tongue: A Dutch Heirloom variety that has yellow with purple stripes on compact plants. Matures at around 60 days. Pick the pods when they are no larger than 7 inches long for green beans or let pod mature on the plant for shelled beans.
Italian Rose: Another Heirloom variety with red and white mottled pods when fully mature, which is around 70 days. Green beans are more of a green with red stripe color. Pick when young and tender for green beans or let pods mature for shelled beans. Shelled beans are excellent in soups, stews and chili.
Eureka: This wax bean is bright yellow and a perfect bean for eating fresh. Eureka has a shorter maturity rate at 55 days. Pick the pods when they are 5 to 6 inches long.
Purple Queen: This bean is beautiful as well as tasty! Dark purple pods with bright green interior and turn a bright green when fully cooked. Matures in 52 days. Pick pods when 7 inches long.
Fin de Bagnols: This French heirloom is an old variety that bears on dwarf plants. The pods are slender and green. They are best picked when 3 to 4 inches long. This bean matures in 57 days and does best in cool temperatures.
All plants listed above range in height between 15 inches and 20 inches.
Bean Pest: The Mexican Bean Beetle
The Mexican Bean Beetle is a species of Lady Beetle which is voracious eater of bean leaves and is found throughout Mexico and the eastern United States. They flourish in wetter weather and are less prolific in drier areas. They are a nuisance because they strip a plant of its leaves , thus preventing that plant the ability to photosynthesize and thus the plant dies.
They like to hide out on the underside of leaves. One of the best organic ways I know to combat these little buggers is to use Diatomaceous Earth. Sprinkle on the leaves of the bean plants, both tops and undersides. You may need to apply a few times, especially after rain. Being proactive and checking your plants each day will ensure you catch this pest before it multiplies.
Did You Know?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, these countries are the top producers of dried beans (Range: 1 is the highest, 10 is the lowest):
- United State
World Gene Bank: Preserving Our Food Sources
According to the World Gene Bank, there are over 40,000 bean varieties collected for their vaults. Only a fraction of these types are produced for every day commercial consumption. some of these beans include:
- Fava or Broad Beans
- Cow Peas/ Black Eyed Peas
- Chickpea (aka Garbanzo)
- Runner Beans
- Common beans like Pinto, Black Kidney and Green Beans
- Pigeon Pea
- Common Pea
Beans are Nutritious!
Beans have significant amounts of fiber and soluble fiber. One cup of cooked beans is equal to 9 grams of fiber. It also contains complex carbohydrates, folate and Iron.
Because of it's high fiber content, it fills you up. It is a good meat substitute (especially for those on vegetarian diets) and all that fiber helps lower cholesterol.
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© 2014 Lisa Roppolo