Pole Beans; a Perfect Fit for Small Gardens

September 17, 2009

Two recent articles have focused on the designs and construction of a bean trellis and a tomato tower for the vegetable garden. Today Barb returns to share ideas for putting those trellises to good use, and also shows how to reduce the seed budget without sacrificing variety.

Heirloom beans are a fantastic crop for the backyard gardener, and if you’re a bit cramped for growing space pole beans allow you to go vertical in order to increase your yields even more. So here’s Barb from her small but productive garden in Northern Virginia:

Springing for an Economical Mix of Pole Bean Seeds

Hiya, Kenny! I am going to report on beans today. This is the first year I have dedicated space to pole beans. One was an early producer called “Spanish Music.” The second packet was a mix of three different beans. This is what I want to talk about.

I have never been a fan of buying mixed seeds. Oh, I’ll spring for salad mixes, of course, but really prefer one-per-package. I guess it’s the purist in me. BUT this small packet of three pole beans has turned out to be the best investment made.

Pole Lima Beans Pole Beans; a Perfect Fit for Small Gardens

Painting an Attractive Picture for the Small Space Gardener

You know I have an extremely small garden space. I put in maybe a dozen of each type of bean seeds, taking slightly more than six linear feet. The mix had white, red and brown seeds. They grew into a yellow wax type, a lovely purple string bean, and a green bean.

The other packet, Spanish Music is a wide, flat bean that can reach 10″ long and a full inch in width and still not be tough.  Here it is, mid September. This small allotment of space for pole beans produces three pounds of beans a week! They have outgrown the trellis by several feet, and I have to use a ladder to pick the upper reaches.

For the small space gardener, this type of mixed packaging can be a real money saver. One packet of three bean varieties, and I still have leftover seed. If I had bought three separate packets I would have more unused seed than I could use in years.

Using that Valuable Real Estate under the Bean Trellis

Underneath the bean trellis, the leeks are growing and the summer lettuces are giving way to the winter salad greens. Earlier this season you wrote about leeks not liking beans. Now I can tell you why…

Beans have an amazing root system. The leeks which are closest to the beans, and I mean within a foot of the bean row, are not as large as those which are three feet away. But the beans will come down and those leeks will be harvested last. We’ll see how they compare at the end of the winter.

Thanks for all your help and advice, hope this letter spurs someone else to take a chance on a small space garden.

Thank you Barb for sharing this great advice on growing pole beans in the backyard and for your perspective from a smaller sized garden. Pole beans are extremely easy to grow, very productive, and ideal for planting in the confined quarters of a small space vegetable garden.





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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gary October 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Your readers with late season herb and vegetable gardens may well find that they will grow more than they can use, preserve or give to friends.

They may want to visit http://www.AmpleHarvest.org – a site that helps diminish hunger by enabling backyard gardeners to share their crops with neighborhood food pantries.

The site is free both for the food pantries and the gardeners using it.

More than 970 food pantries nationwide are already on it and more are signing up daily.

It includes preferred delivery times, driving instructions to the pantry as well as (in many cases) information about store bought items also needed by the pantry (for after the growing season).

AmpleHarvest.org enables people to help their community by reaching into their back yard instead of their back pocket.

Lastly, if your reader’s community has a food pantry, they should make sure the pantry registers on http://www.AmpleHarvest.org. Its free.

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