Tips & Techniques for Growing Pole Beans & Corn
Growing Pole Beans with Corn
Varieties of Pole Beans and Corn
Pole beans are beans that produce long vines which need some type of support.  Pole beans and corn can be grown together.  They actually do a little better if grown separately.  However, there are some benefits of growing them together.  The corn provides support for the beans, thereby eliminating the need for a trellis or tepees.  Picking pole beans is much easier on your back than picking bush beans.  In addition, you can harvest both corn and beans from the same garden space.

There are several types of pole beans.  The most common is green beans.  However, others types exist, e.g. pole lima beans.  They can be grown with corn as easily as green beans.  Pole beans can have long runners or shorter ones, i.e. half runners.  There are many varieties of pole beans.  Both open pollinated and hybrid varieties are available.  My favorite is Kentucky Wonder.  They produce long pods with a very good flavor. 

Likewise, there are many varieties of corn.  If you are not interested in saving seed, a hybrid variety of sweet corn may be best.  A lot of work has gone into developing hybrids that are very sweet and tasty.  A tall variety which is resistant to blow down is desirable.  If you prefer yellow corn, Kandy Korn is a popular variety.  If your preference is white, Silver Queen is a good choose.
Preparing the Soil
Pole beans and corn are best planted in rows.  You will need to have two or more rows side-by-side to obtain adequate pollination.  It is best not to plant them next to onions since pole beans and onions are not compatible.  Prepare the soil by tilling the garden and marking off rows slightly wider than your tiller to minimize future tilling and weeding efforts.  If you marked the rows off by making a trench with your hoe, you can plant the seed directly in the trench without any additional preparation.  If you use garden fertilizer, don’t over do it since too much nitrogen will cause the beans to produce great vines with few beans.
Planting Pole Beans and Corn
Since beans will grow faster than corn, it is best to plant the corn first and wait until it comes up to plant the beans.  In that way, the corn will get a head start.  This works out great since beans must not be planted until there is no chance of frost.  To facilitate hoeing between bean and corn plants, you may want to make the corn hills about a foot apart.  Later, plant beans midway between the corn hills leaving enough space to hoe between the plants.  You can plant them closer together but you will have to pull most of the weeds that come up in the row.  The seeds should be covered by about one inch of dirt.  After the plants are up, thin the corn leaving one plant per hill and the beans leaving two plants per hill.  As pointed out previously, you need to plant at least two rows side-by-side to improve pollination.  Otherwise, the ears of corn will not be completely filled out.
Weeding & Plant Maintenance
To control weeds, plow down each middle several times during the growing season.   You should be able to hoe most of the weeds out of the rows and only need to pull those that are right next to the plants.  You will have to hand start some of the bean vines onto the corn stalks.  Once the runners get attached, they should continue climbing without further assistance.  If water is available, you should water regularly during dry spells, especially while the corn ears are forming.  If a storm blows some of your corn stalks down, you should straighten them right away and pack dirt around the roots.
Controlling Diseases and Insects
Beans seem to produce without too many pests or diseases.  Corn, on the other hand, can be attacked by several diseases, insects and animals.  The most common disease that I have encountered is corn smut caused by spores blown by the wind.  Balls of smut like substance grow on the actual corn ears.  Some varieties have some resistance to smut.  The most common insect pest seems to be the corn earworm caused by moths laying eggs on the corn foliage and silks.  Some control measures include planting early varieties of corn, helpful insects and use of insecticides.  Always read and follow the directions on the containers when applying chemicals on garden plants.

Wildlife near your garden such as deer, raccoons and groundhogs can be a problem.  It seems a lot of animals love sweet corn.  There are several methods used to repel them including a motion detecting water sprinkler made by Contech Electronics called the ScareCrow.  I haven’t tried it but it seems like it would work and would require little effort to use.  I purchased a heavy duty plastic mesh fence and put it up every year after planting is complete.  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.

Beans should be picked while the pods are young and tender.  You need to pick them frequently, i.e. about every two days.  Similarly, corn needs to be picked when the ears are filled out and still tender.  If you leave the corn on the stalk too long, the corn will get starchy and hard.  You can determine the maturity of an ear of corn by pealing back the shuck slightly and examining the ear to see if it is filled out and is still juicy.