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The Seed Program
Growing Hints

This is one of the many growing hints that are available as a bonus with a registered copy of The Seed Program.

Beans

Beans are a productive and easy to grow crop that should be included in even the smallest garden. Beans will grow more quickly in warm weather, but can be grown during the entire frost free part of the year. They have the added benefit of "fixing" nitrogen from the air, and therefore can actually enrich the soil. Use a bean "inoculant" to insure that the beans will have the beneficial bacteria that allows the bean plant to fix nitrogen. Inoculant can be purchased from most places that sell bean seeds.

Beans are prone to a number of diseases, including mosaic and anthracnose. This will seldom reach the point that the harvest is seriously reduced. By the time beans show signs of disease, it is usually too late to treat them, so the best practice is to work to prevent the disease from appearing in the first place. Plant good quality, disease free seeds. Avoid harvesting or working around the bean plants when the foliage is damp, as this will spread diseases from leaf to leaf and plant to plant. Expect disease problems to be most severe during very humid or rainy seasons. A good strategy is to plant successive crops every few weeks -- when one planting has been harvested and is succumbing to disease, just pull them up and wait for the next planting to mature for a continued harvest. Practice crop rotation to prevent disease problems -- avoid planting beans (or any legumes) in the same spot each year.

The Mexican bean beetle is usually the most serious insect pest encountered with beans. These bugs look something like lady bugs, to which they are related, but are light yellowish brown with black spots. The larva are bright yellow with spiky spines. Watch for yellow eggs on the underside of leaves and crush them to keep down the populations of this pest.

Bush beans need no support and can simply be planted in rows. Pole beans grow on long vines that do require some support. Use poles (singly or in groups of three tied at the top to form a tripod) or even a tall growing plant such as corn or sunflowers to give the vines something to climb on.

Harvest snap beans while the pods are not fully formed and the seeds inside are still small. Dry beans (or "shelling" beans) should be left to mature completely, then allowed to dry before being separated from the pods.

For more crops, more complete gardening information, a garden journal and a planting schedule you can customize for your region, purchase The Seed Program!

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