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  • Writer's pictureTraci Arellano

Holy Frijoles

What is there to know about beans as a beginning gardener? First off you should know that beans fall into two large groupings: bush beans or pole beans. I was unaware of this fact...I'm a jump in and dig kinda gal...and just assumed that all beans crawl up trellises. So I follow the directions on the packet and soak my beans overnight, plant my beans, tend to them lovingly and overall get a great crop of beans that never rose above 2' from the ground...trellises unused. Undaunted, I research a bit and find out where my thinking went awry.

I learned that there is a tremendous variety of beans out there, and that if you want your bean plants to climb then you must plant 'Pole Beans'. This season I decided to go with Kentucky Wonder pole beans. I was a little late in planting my beans this year; however, in my neck of the woods the packet says I can plant from March thru August, so the middle of July fell well within the printed timeframe. Whew!

Days to germination is generally 6-8 days. I did not follow the directions to soak my beans this time because a gardener I subscribe to on YouTube said that they did not find that you really need to, so I didn't. I am happy to report that my bean babies broke ground within the 6-8 days. Whew again!

Beans, I understand, are a terrific beginning gardener veggie to grow because they aren't very picky or delicate and can tolerate a wide range of climates. I have found that beans grow rather easily from seed. Bean plants need to be watered regularly and they need lots of sun, about 6-8 hours of full sun a day. In a very short amount of time they grow into a nice sized plant. The pic below on right has been 3 weeks from when I first planted my bean seeds. It is particularly satisfying to see results of your hard work, especially when you aren't sure at first if you are doing it correctly :) I am anxiously awaiting the day I go out to the garden and find that first tendril wrapped around the trellis strings.

So now the countdown is on for days until harvest. In 65 days I will give an update on this bean journey.

But first, here are a few things for you to keep in mind when you are deciding whether to plant bush beans vs pole beans...


  • Takes about 55-60 days to flower before setting beans

  • Prefers moderate to hot summers

  • Large harvest over short period of time (3-4 weeks)

  • Plant in rows; grows ~2' compact


  • Takes about 65-70 days to flower before setting beans

  • Prefers cooler summers

  • Longer harvest time (6-8 weeks) if you pick them regularly

  • Plant by trellis; climbs ~6' sprawling

Have you planted beans yet? Do you have any great tips on how to grow and tend bean plants? Have you tried your hand at pickling green beans? I would love to hear any and all tips, tricks, anecdotes or stories about your gardening journey.

Here is a green bean recipe that I absolutely love as a side dish to any meal...


  • 1 3/4 pounds green beans, trimmed

  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces

  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Combine green beans with shallots, oil and lemon zest on heavy large rimmed baking sheet; toss well to combine. Spread beans out into single layer and season with salt and pepper. Roast the beans in the oven until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

  2. Stir the beans well and sprinkle with walnuts and cranberries. Continue to roast until beans are almost just tender, about 6 minutes longer. Add the water and lemon juice and continue roasting until the liquid evaporates and the green beans are lightly glazed, about 4 minutes longer. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve. If you like more snap in your green beans like I do, I suggest cutting the cook times in half. So delicious!

Healthy Happy Eating and Continued Good Growing!

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