It's fun growing beans because bean plants grow quickly and crank out pods, making you self-sufficient in legumes very fast. Kids or anyone with short attention span will love this.
There are so many varieties of beans, therefore it's important to check which ones will do well in your particular garden conditions.
Varieties are divided into two groups:
Scarlet runner beans are climbing beans that are also perennial. That means they die back and grow again for several seasons. If you want a low maintenance garden it makes a lot of sense to choose plants that are going to come back again next year.
Legumes, that's the beans and peas family for us non-botanists, are nitrogen fixers. Together with a type of bacteria they enrich the soil with nitrogen and this is good news in the veggie patch. After the bean crop has finished the soil will be very nutritious for other vegetables.
Starting: To start planting beans, sow seeds direct, 5 cm deep. Water once and then leave it alone to avoid seeds rotting. Space seedlings 10-30 cm apart depending on variety.
Soil: Well draining, slightly alkaline soil produce the best results, although the varieties I've had haven't been fussy.
Climate: Bean plants are sensitive to frost. Snake Beans prefer a hot climate.
Watering: Water the growing bean plants regularly, do not let them dry out.
Fertilizing: Avoid fertilizing with nitrogen rich preparations. Give them potash and trace elements.
Harvesting: Harvest green beans small for best taste and crunch. Picking stimulates the plant to produce more pods. Climbing beans crop over a longer period compared to bush beans. If you intend to dry the beans for later use, then wait until the pod is starting to dry out and seeds are fully formed.
Containers: Climbing beans and dwarf bush beans are most suitable to grow in containers. A depth of 20 cm is needed for most varieties.
Shady areas: They generally do ok, but experiment to find varieties that are suitable for your climate and for your own shady spot.
Pests and diseases: Caterpillars, slugs and snails, fungus, aphids, white fly. Rodents steal seeds and possums nibble on flowers. The list is long but I haven't had a severe problem. Beans grow faster than the pests can eat them around here.
Support: Train climbing beans up a string, trellis or tripod. Supports should be in place before sowing so that the roots are not disturbed later.