Today I tore out the rest of the radishes that I did not get picked as they had gone to seed. It was time as I needed to get my bush beans planted. I have already planted my pole beans but as usual I over planted the spring vegetables so I did not have space for the beans until today (not as much space as I had hoped for though). I had planned to plant the beans where the peas were planted on the rooftop garden of my chicken pen but I decided to put the second planting of potatoes there rather than wait to replant the potatoes in the bins after I harvest the first batch in the next couple of weeks to a month.
The potato planting will be another blog and today I will focus on the step by step process of planting bush beans. I chose to plant green and purple bean varieties. The purple beans are fun to grow and they turn green when boiled or steamed.
The first step of the planting process (after removing all the radishes and weeds), was to screen a five gallon bucket of compost which I spread an inch or two thick over the approximately three and a half by four foot area. It takes approximately two small packages of beans to plant this size of area.
I then used a garden dibble (very handy planting tool), to poke holes in the ground about an inch deep and about two to three inches apart. I usually use my finger to poke the holes but this tends to cause an excess of soil buildup under my fingernails so I look a little too hickish when I dress up to teach my college courses.
Beans are not heavy feeders and they actually take nitrogen from the air and attach it to their roots in little nodules which feeds other plants. Beans can be planted close together as they grab on to each other for support with their tendrils.
I then wet the seed and used inoculant (black powder), which coated the seeds prior to planting. The inoculant assists the plant in forming the nitrogen rich nodules on the roots. Inoculant can be found at most garden centers in the spring but it is sometimes hard to find so I buy a little extra when I find it. I use it for both peas and beans.
I then planted the entire seed bed before covering the holes with dirt to make sure I planted the entire area and did not miss anywhere. I then patted the dirt down gently with my hand to ensure good soil/seed contact. See the hickish hands.
Last step was to water the bed thoroughly.
Beans are easy to plant and grow and I should see the young bean plants poke their heads out of the soil in about ten days to two weeks. After giving the seeds an adequate amount of time to sprout I will replant all the areas where seeds did not germinate to ensure I get a full bed.
Beans take between 60 and 90 days to mature and produce a crop. Beans are one of the crops that the more you pick it the longer it will continue to produce more beans. If you stop picking and allow the beans to dry out and harden the plant will shut down and quit producing. I always have beans to pick until the first hard freeze so beans are an excellent extended season and long producing crop.
I like to blanch and freeze my beans in quart freezer bags for winter. They remain firm and crisp and are not soggy and limp like canned beans. Freezing also retains the vibrant green and purple color. By the end of winter I am usually a little tired of eating beans but after a month or so I again look forward to the taste of fresh steamed green beans with butter.
Today I picked the last of my sweet peas to prepare for the potato planting. Sweet peas are worth their weight in gold.