Whatever you call them, green beans are a nutritious staple in kitchens across America. Also called string beans or snap beans, green beans are heart-healthy vegetables that give back to the garden by replenishing nitrogen in the soil. Green beans are a must-have for your survival garden.
Health Benefits of Green Beans
Green beans are a low-calorie food and contain no fat. They are full of antioxidants that boost the immune system and prevent cell damage. One cup of green beans fulfills 25 percent of your daily requirement for Vitamin C. They are also high in Vitamin K which helps to improve bone health by improving calcium absorption. That single cup of green beans contains 33 percent of your daily folate (Vitamin B9) which is necessary during pregnancy and also helps to reduce depression. Green beans are high in fiber which helps your digestive system and lower cholesterol. A cup of green beans also contains about 2 grams of protein, making them a valuable addition to a vegetarian diet.
Types of Green Beans
All green beans are annuals. While most varieties have green pods, they also come in purple, red, yellow, and streaked varieties. They come in bush bean and pole bean varieties.
Bush beans grow compactly to about 2 feet tall and do not require structural support like a trellis. They don’t need a lot of extra maintenance and can even be grown indoorsif you have good light. Bush beans are usually ready to harvest in about 50 days and the pods often come all at once, so it’s a good idea to stagger plantings for an extended harvest.
Some popular varieties of bush beans that we offer include:
Pole beans are climbing vines that require a trellis or stake for support and typically produce a higher yield than bush beans. Pole beans have a slightly longer growing season and will be ready in about 60 days. They will produce pods for a month or two if you keep harvesting.
Our most popular pole beans include:
How to Grow Green Beans
Green beans grow the best when directly sown outdoors when the soil has warmed to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They will not germinate if the soil is too cool and wet. Beans prefer soil that has a neutral pH (between 6.0-7.0). You can speed up germination by placing plastic over the soil prior to sowing to help it warm faster.
Bush beans should be planted about 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart. Pole beans should be planted 1 inch deep around their future support. It’s best to place the trellises or supports for pole beans prior to planting so that you don’t disturb the roots once they sprout. Train the pole bean vines up the supports as they grow. Sow new seeds every 10 days or so for a harvest that lasts all summer.
Mulch will help the soil around the beans retain moisture. Green beans have shallow roots, so be sure to keep them watered well or they will stop blooming and producing pods. With pole beans, you can pinch off the top of the vine when it reaches the top of your support so that the plant will put energy into producing pods. When the weather is especially hot, it’s a good idea to cover young plants to prevent them from dropping blossoms.
Harvesting Green Beans
Green beans will not stay at peak ripeness for long when it’s time for harvest. Once you see blossoms on your beans, check them regularly to see if any pods are ready. When the pods are about as thick as a pencil, they are ready for harvest. If you see visible bulges of the inner seeds, the pods are past their prime, but you can still use them as a shell bean or even save them as a dried bean. Snap beans are sweetest if picked in the morning. Pick every day, because the more you pick the more the plant will produce.
Most current varieties of beans can simply be snapped in half and sauteed, steamed, or roasted. Some varieties still have a tough string along the edge of the pod that you will want to pull off prior to cooking.
Storing Green Beans
Fresh beans will last about 4 days in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can blanch and freeze beans immediately for longer-term storage. Green beans can also be canned or pickled.
Whether you grow them in your backyard or on your balcony, green beans are a low-maintenance vegetable that can be a positive addition to your diet and your garden. They can be used fresh or stored for extended periods and the plants can help to replenish nitrogen in soil that has been depleted by other vegetables.