Go Green Beans!
Green, string, snap, pole, or bush, whatever you call these beans, these edible little pods are great to grow in the garden. Green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), as we think of them, typically grow in two forms. These two main growing forms are what we call bush and pole bean growing styles. Bush beans usually grow more compactly and won’t necessitate support. Pole beans are more viney and will need stakes or trellises to grow on for support. The other difference between bush and pole beans are that bush beans are relatively low maintenance and easier to grow, however pole beans are more widely known for producing higher yields and being more resistant to disease.
Not So Green in Years
Green beans have been around for thousands of years, originating in Central and South America. They were introduced to the Mediterranean area the mid 1400’s and quickly spread to Turkey, Italy, and Greece by the 1600’s. Today over 100 varieties are grown in various parts the world.
If you want to try and grow green beans in your part of the world then begin sowing seeds 2 weeks after the last frost date in your area and when soil temperatures are above 50° F. Seeds should be planted 1-1.5”deep, spaced 2” apart for bush beans and 3” apart for pole beans, with trellises in place for support. To continuously harvest beans throughout summer, plant additional seeds every 2-3 weeks.
Once beans are planted, and as they continue to grow, water the beans consistently, but make sure your soil doesn’t become waterlogged. Typically green beans don’t need to be fertilized, as too much nitrogen gives you beautiful plush leaves, but drastically reduces your bean production. As with any garden, be sure to weed around your beans, but do so using shallow cultivation in order to leave the bean roots undisturbed. Also, as you plant green beans in subsequent years, rotate your annual crops to discourage the development of diseases and pest problems, and to balance out your soil. Crop rotation, weeding, and proper watering techniques can keep molds, mildews, and rusts at bay. This can even discourage the development of pest invasions from aphids, leaf beetles, and spider mites.
When it isn’t Easy being Green
If you do find you have problems with pests, grow additional plants, such as marigold or yarrow, to attract predatory beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings. In addition, to help eliminate spider mites, remove infected leaves from your beans and dislodge mites with a hose fitted with a spray nozzle. You can also spray the plants with a mixture of rosemary essential oil and water or with soapy water, but do NOT do this is the plant is stressed or dehydrated, or during the heat of the day.
Bringing in the Green
Once you have grown a healthy crop of beans it’s time to harvest. The neat thing about green beans is that they are actually picked when the seeds aren’t fully developed. As you go to harvest your crop, be on the lookout for firm, nice-sized pods that snap crisply off the plant. Be sure not to tear your bean plants. After picking the beans, keep them in moisture free, airtight containers in your refrigerator. They should keep for 4-5 days. If you need them to last longer blanch and freeze after picking.
Mean Lean Green Nutrition
One cup (110 grams) of green beans gives us 34 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 8 grams of carbohydrates (4 grams of which is dietary fiber). Green beans are an excellent source of Vitamins C and K-1, and a good source of Vitamins A and B-9 (Folate), and the mineral manganese. They also offer Vitamins E (tocopherol), B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, and B-6, and the minerals calcium, copper, non-heme iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
Beyond the vitamins and minerals, green beans provide fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant pigments. These make this bean helpful in regulating blood sugar levels, fighting certain types of cancer, reducing inflammation, and helping with digestive issues. One possible drawbacks of green beans include, due to their high Vitamin K content, is that those on blood thinners should be cautious and take any medication accordingly. Another drawback to green beans, and other legumes, is the phytic acid they contain. Phytic acid can block the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. To combat this, beans can be soaked, fermented, cooked, and/or consumed with vitamin-C rich foods and/or vinegar. Here are some recipes that can help you do just that.
My favorite way to eat green beans:
2 Pints of Dilly Beans
1 lb. small fresh green beans
2 heads fresh dill
2 long hot peppers
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 – 1½ cups water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
Sterilize 2 pint canning jars
Place 1 head of dill, 1 pepper, 1 garlic clove, and ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper into each jar
Place ½ lb. of beans in an upright position in each jar
Bring water, vinegar, and salt to a boil
Pour over beans
Seal and process the jars for 15 minutes in boiling water
Cool and store to enjoy anytime throughout the year!
Here’s a recipe to enjoy beans right away:
Roasted Green Beans
1 lb. green beans
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 425° F
Place green beans in a baking pan
Drizzle with oil
Add salt and pepper
Roast beans for until tender (10-15 minutes)
Remove from oven
Drizzle balsamic vinegar over beans
Serve while still warm
This recipe is great to play around with. You can add any herbs you like such as oregano or rosemary. You can also add other veggies such as carrots, onions, mushrooms, garlic, etc. You can even add nuts, including almonds and pecans. Even a squeeze or two of lemon goes great with these roasted beans. Get creative and make green beans your own fun and delicious dish!
Green Looks Good on You
Green goes great in any garden, kitchen, or dinner party, especially if it’s green beans. Easy to grow, prepare, and enjoy, green beans making being green easy-peasy. Give green a go, and try your hand at these wonderful, delicious beans.
Nolte, K. Yuma County Cooperative Extension. University of Arizona. Green Beans. https://cals.arizona.edu/fps/sites/cals.arizona.edu.fps/files/cotw/Green_Beans.pdf
SNAP-Ed. USDA. Green Beans. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/green-beans
UGA Extension. August 16, 2011. University of Georgia. Home Garden Green Beans. Circular 1006. http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C1006