When growing beans, a distinction is made between low-growing bush beans and climbing pole beans. Bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris var. nanus) usually cause few problems during cultivation and provide a relatively early yield. The legumes are butterfly beans (Faboideae) and, like pole beans and fire beans, belong to the group of garden beans that originate from Central America. Because of their origin, the beans are sensitive to heat requirements. They can only be put outdoors in mid-May, when the soil is warm enough.
Originally, the bush beans, only 30 to 50 centimeters high, were climbing plants that were cultivated in the 19th century as low beans. Three heart-shaped leaves each sit on their short stems. At the end of June, three to five butterfly flowers appear per stem in white, yellow or violet. As with the other types of beans, there is also a wide range of early, medium and later varieties of bush beans in a wide variety of shapes and colours.
Location and soil
Bush beans do not place too high demands on the soil. However, it should be deep, preferably calcareous and not encrusted. Sunny to semi-shady locations are best suited.
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Sowing and planting
Like pole beans, you can prefer bush beans in the greenhouse. This prevents bean fly infestation and at best ensures earlier harvesting. At the end of April, place four to five seeds about two centimeters deep in pots filled with compost and eight to ten centimeters in size. Pour the seeds well. The pots must be kept warm and bright at about 20 degrees Celsius and kept moist until they germinate. Gradually accustom the young plants to cooler temperatures and plant them in the bed after the Ice Saints.
The beans are very sensitive to cold. The higher the temperature, the faster the seeds germinate. In general, sowing directly into the open is possible until mid-July. You can sow the beans either in horsts or in rows. In row sowing, one seed is sown every five to ten centimeters in approximately three centimeters deep seed grooves. The row spacing should be 40 to 50 centimeters. In eyrie sowing, about five seeds are placed about three centimeters deep (not deeper!) at a distance of 40 centimeters. As several germs push out of the soil at the same time, this increases the stability. Especially on heavy soils this cultivation method has become established. In cold early years, covering the seedlings with fleece or foil can be a heat-retaining measure.
Bush beans should be piled up after emergence, as this also increases stability and leads to active root growth. During the period from flowering to fruiting, bush beans have the greatest need for water and must be kept well moist. You should also chop regularly and loosen the soil. Thus, the pupae of the root fly are disturbed and do not cause major damage.
Since so-called nodule bacteria live at the roots of the bush beans, which can bind nitrogen from the air, an additional supply of (nitrogen) fertiliser is not necessary.
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Harvesting and recycling
Early varieties are ready for harvest at the beginning of summer. The pods should be harvested regularly as long as they do not form thick grains. Thus they form new fruit approaches. During the main harvesting season, picking must take place every three days. Like all beans, bush beans must first be cooked before being processed into soups, salads and stews. Some varieties such as ‘Mariazellerbohne’ and ‘Borlotto’ are well suited for drying.
Crop rotation and mixed cultivation
Grain species are well suited as a previous crop for bush beans. And the bean itself is also a good previous fruit, as it leaves behind a fertilized and weed-poor bed. Good neighbours are cabbage, celery, salad, beetroot and tomatoes, whereas peas and other beans should not be grown together with bush beans. The ideal mixed cultivation partner is savory, which fends off the black bean aphid. Co-cooked, it also makes beans more digestible. Beans can be grown in the same place for three years.
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There is a wide variety of bush beans, which can be subdivided according to the colour of the pod: green-veined, threadless bush beans: ‘Admires’, ‘Delinel’. Dubra, duplica. Maja’ is very early ripe and rich bearing. Marona’ is also early ripe and produces a good harvest even in dry years. Easy to harvest is ‘Maxi’, in which the fruit grows in clusters above the leaves and the variety is therefore also known as ‘Gluckentyp’. Particularly tender and green beans are ‘Annabel’ and ‘Masai’.Yellow beans, also called wax beans: ‘Butterzart’, which is relatively resistant to the burning spot disease, as well as ‘Gabriella’, ‘Golddukat’ and ‘Helios’.Blue beans: ‘Purple King’ and the high-yield variety ‘Purple Teepee’.
Diseases and pests
Snails and bean aphids cause problems for legumes especially at the beginning of cultivation. The spotting disease occurs mainly on bush beans. It is a fungus that shows brown spots with dark edges on leaves, stems and pods. Moist weather favors the disease. As a precaution, you should only pile up and chop in dry weather. It is also necessary to observe a cultivation break of three years thereafter. If the weather is too humid and the air humidity is high, it can lead to an infestation with grey mould. As a precaution you should cultivate the beans as air-permeable as possible. A viral disease is the bean mosaic virus, which is transmitted by aphids. The leaves lighten up and later a clearly recognizable mosaic develops on them. As a countermeasure, suspicious plants must be removed and aphids carefully controlled.
In an interview with our store editor Dieke van Dieken, plant doctor René Wadas reveals his tips against aphids.Credits: Production: Folkert Siemens; Camera and Editing: Fabian Primsch
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.