Tips & Techniques for Growing Bush Beans
Growing Pinto Beans


Varieties of Bush Beans
There are many types of bush beans with the most common being green beans followed by shelling beans and some unusual ones like garbanzo beans which are sometimes called chick peas.  Guess they aren't sure if it is a bean or pea.  The green bean family with edible pods includes the typical green varieties, flat Italian beans, yellow wax beans and even beans with purple pods.  I am partial to the Kentucky Wonder bush beans because of the flavor.  Shelling beans include pinto beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, and a host of others.  Some have unusual coloring and/or flavor.  You can find some heirloom varieties and varieties resistant to various diseases.
Preparing the Soil
Prepare to plant bush beans by tilling the garden and marking off rows.  Space the rows so you only have to plow down the middle one time when you till the garden.  It makes the job of tilling and weeding easier, if you make the middles slightly wider than your tiller.  To ensure straight rows, make a shallow trench using a string and hoe.  Once the rows have been marked off, you will be able to plant the bean seed in hills along the trench.  Select a location for the bean rows that will not be near onions which are incompatible with beans plants.  Planting more than one row of beans side-by-side may improve bean production slightly but is usually not necessary since most beans are capable of self-pollination.
Planting Bush Beans
It is best to plant bush beans in straight rows side-by-side, if you are planting more than one row.  If the soil is low in nitrogen, an inoculant can be mixed with the seed before planting.  However, this is generally not necessary.  Using a hoe, dig a hole about every 8 inches along the trenches used to mark off the rows.  Place 2 or 3 seeds in each hole and cover with about an inch of dirt.  This should leave adequate space between the hills to allow hoeing and reduce the number of weeds that will have to be hand pulled.  If you are planting large limas and the ground is not sandy, you may want to cover the seed with less dirt, i.e. about a half inch.  These large seed seem to have a hard time pushing up through the soil.  As previously stated, never plant bush beans next to onions since that can reduce the bean yield.
Weeding & Plant Maintenance
If you spaced your rows so the middles are slightly wider than your tiller, one pass down each middle should be adequate to remove the weeds between the rows.   Likewise, if you left adequate space between hills, you should be able to remove most of the weeds in the rows with a hoe. You will have to pull a few weeds that come up right next to the plants.  You should be able till and hoe about three times before the plants get too large for you to get the tiller down the middles without damaging the plants.  At that point, the bean plants should smother out most weeds that come up that late in the summer.
Controlling Diseases and Insects
Usually, pests and diseases don't prevent bush beans from producing.  The most prevalent problem seems to be with bugs eating the leaves late in the season and killing the plants prematurely.  One such pest is the Mexican bean beettle which lays eggs on the underside of  leaves and eats holes in them.  If severe infestation occurs, you may want to consider using an insecticide.  Always read and follow the directions on the containers when applying chemicals on garden plants.  For specific details on controlling diseases and pests, click on the "Gardening Resources" tab and go to the Sources of Information on Vegetable Garden Diseases and Pests.
Once the first beans are ready to be picked, you will need to pick them often, i.e. about every two or three days.  Frequent picking encourages production and prevents beans from getting too mature or drying.  Of course, this doesn't apply if you are planning to harvest them as dry beans.  Green beans are best eaten fresh or canned.  Shelling beans are good fresh, frozen or canned.  For dry beans, you can pick the beans as they dry or leave them on the plants until the end of the growing season and pull up plants and all.