Beans and Peas

Phaseolus vulgarisBeans, green snap and yellow wax (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Family: Fabaceae
Related vegetables: all other beans, peas


  • Warm-season annual grown for its immature fruit.
  • Green snap beans were previously called string beans because of stringy fibers that ran along the front and back of the pod. Modern cultivars no longer have strings. Yellow wax beans are a color variant of green snap beans with a slightly waxier pod. Purple beans (which turn green when cooked) and flat-pod beans (Romano beans) are also available.
  • Plant seeds directly in garden 1-2 weeks after average last frost date, soil at least 60 °F.
  • Bush type: short plants (18”); harvest period short, so plant repeatedly until mid-summer for continual harvest (min. 50 days needed before first frost); space 2-3”, rows a minimum of 18” apart, spacing within a wide row is 4”x4”; first harvest 50-60 days after seeds planted. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 6 lb.
  • Pole type: tall plants, to height of support (6 ft+); longer harvest than bush types so only 1 or 2 plantings needed; space 4-6”, rows a minimum of 24” apart, both long linear and tepee-like supports can be used; first harvest 60-70 days after seeds planted. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 3-4 lb.

Plant seeds directly in the soil after it has warmed to 60 °F usually 1-2 weeks after average last frost date. If soil is too cold, germination is slow and seed is likely to rot. Seeds can be purchased pre-treated with fungicide to minimize this problem. Plant 1” deep in heavy soils, 1.5” deep in sandy soils. Mulching lightly with compost or sand will help seedlings emerge in heavier soils. If using vertical supports, set when seeds are planted. Most soils contain the necessary nitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria to support bean growth. If you are concerned that your soil does not, you can purchase a bacterial inoculum. Coat the seeds with the inoculum before planting. The bacteria will become established in the soil, ready to infect the roots of the beans and peas in future years. It is not necessary to use inoculum after the first year.

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