How to Grow Pole Beans
As a kid, I was always fascinated by pole beans twining their way to the sky on vertical poles, as they always reminded me of Jack and the Beanstalk. My mother, of course, had other reasons for growing pole beans. Pole beans are similar to bush green beans, but produce larger pods on climbing vines. Many prefer them for their intense green bean flavor and because they produce fresh beans over a longer period.
- Location: Choose a sunny location that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Although pole beans will grow in less light, production will be inhibited.
- Soil: Cultivate the soil to a depth of eight to 10 inches, removing rocks, roots and other debris. Amend with organic matter, such as compost or aged manure. Typically, a two to the inch layer spread over the soil and worked into the top six inches is adequate, but it depends on the condition of your soil. Beans prefer rich organic soil that drains well.
- Fertilizer: Work 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer into the soil before planting, following the recommended application rate on the container. Beans typically do not require additional fertilizer. If plants appear weak or yellowed, apply water-soluble fertilizer designed for garden vegetables as needed.
- Support: Erect six-foot poles, spaced two feet apart in your garden. Some prefer to use a teepee trellis or a fence.
- Planting: Plant pole beans in the spring when all danger of frost has passed in your area and soil has warmed to 50 degrees F. Planting bean seeds in cold damp soil often results in rotting or delayed germination. When planted in warm soil, beans germinate within a few days.
- Spacing: Plant seeds to a depth of ½ to 1 inch, spaced two to four inches apart. If you are growing your beans on poles or a teepee trellis, plant the seeds around the base of the poles.
- Water: Water the newly planted seeds to moisten the soil, but avoid over watering. Soil should be moist, but not soggy. Keep the soil moist until seedlings appear in five to seven days. Reduce watering to once or twice a week or whenever the soil feels dry to the touch one inch below the surface.
- Mulch: Mulch around the base of pole beans with grass clippings or straw to maintain moisture and prevent weeds. Otherwise, keep weeds under control by handpicking or with sharp hoe.
- Harvest: Harvest pole beans as soon as the pods are large enough to eat. The size of the pods depends on the cultivars grown, while many reach a length of six to eight inches, some variety may reach a length of 10 to 12 inches.