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In the Vegetable Patch: Bush Beans

by Nellie Neal

In two months or less, you can change your family’s attitude about green beans. Most people encounter beans after they’ve been frozen or canned, overcooked and oversalted. No wonder too many kids and adults refuse anything green on the plate.

Bush beans will grow in just six hours per day of full sun, so every garden has a place for these tasty miracles. Plant a garden bed three feet wide and ten feet long with two rows of beans spaced an inch or two apart and three inches deep. Once the plants sprout, thin them to four inches apart. Don’t spare the water; keep the bean patch moist for best taste and yield. A family of four can expect several meals from this planting.

Once underway, beans will continue to flower and produce for several weeks, so long as nighttime temperatures stay above fifty degrees and daytime temps rise but do not linger into the eighties. If you have a larger space, plant fifteen feet of beans every ten days during spring for an extended season. In areas where fall gardening is feasible, start planting bush beans again about twelve weeks before the first frost is expected.

Beans are legumes and share the family’s most valuable, nearly miraculous, traits. Peas and beans absorb nitrogen from the air to sustain their growth, and their vines hold a treasure of this important nutrient ready to dig back in to the garden at season’s end. Let the plants do their work; do not use high-nitrogen fertilizers on bean plantings. If aphids attack, blast them off with a stream of water. For true infestations and to control mexican bean beetles, use pyrethrin.

While phenomenal taste tops the list of reasons to grow your own beans, these popular vegetables offer the gardener a long list of varieties to try. Picking beans is fun for the family and healthy for the table, but don’t call them ‘string’ beans. Few have the natural zippers anymore, but let bush beans keep their strings...of fans, that is.



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