Having trouble deciding whether bush or pole beans would be better in the garden this year? All the common garden favorites, green podded, waxed, purple pod and Lima are available in both growth habits so the decision really comes down to how you intend to use the beans.
Bush beans are, as the name implies short, tree like vegetables capable of standing on their own without support. The plants rarely exceed 28”, yet the yield is quite productive. The thing about the yield is that it tends to arrive all at once. This is awkward, because good as they are there are only so many beans you can eat over a brief period of time. However, if canning is on your agenda this is exactly what you want from your bean crop. The sudden arrival of the entire yield nearly at once allows you to finish the job in one session.
Pole beans must be trellised or at least grown up against the garden fence which they will obligingly climb on their own. This may mean extra work for the gardener if trellises must be purpose built. However if the goal is to have fresh beans from the garden over a long duration then pole beans are a better choice. These climbers produce over a long period of time, particularly if they are picked regularly, all the way into mid-autumn depending on climate.
If ease of picking is a prime concern then pole beans get the nod over bush varieties every time. Poles beans are right up there in the sunlight, easy to see, reach and pick. Bush beans hide their yield under dense leaves and the gardener must bend to find them and then to pick them.
Would you like to get a real jump on the neighbors for earliest bean crop? Bush beans are indicated here. A quick survey in the pages of the Vermont Bean Seed Company catalog tells us that Bush beans are earliest to mature with one variety, contender, ready for the pop 40 days from germination. No variety investigated took longer than 60 days to mature.
The earliest pole green bean seems to be Emerite at 55 days while Liana requires a tedious 80 days to become ready for the pot.
So it seems that the gardener must take convenience, duration of yield and earliness into account when selecting the best variety of bean seed for his or her garden. And by the way, there are many more varieties of beans than just the big four we mentioned in the beginning. Perhaps Black Turtle, Jacobs Cattle, Vermont Appaloosa or Garbanzo’s are the bean for you. Take a quick look at the multitude of varieties on display in the catalog linked above and see what it is that you have been missing.
Whatever you should choose, happy growing!
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