Growing Green Beans in Ohio
It is easy being green when you grow beans in your Ohio garden. Depending on where you live in the Buckeye State, you can stagger the planting windows to have tasty legumes all season long.
Green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are green in color because they’re picked at immaturity; if left on the vine to completely ripen, the legumes will harden and turn yellow. We harvest green beans in our Central Ohio garden when they are fully grown and the most tender. Monitoring daily growth is important because if beans stay on the plants too long, pods will toughen and the legumes inside become dry.
When embedded in full sunlight, green beans thrive in well-draining loamy soil with a neutral acidity pH of 6.5; they can handle levels between 5.5 and 7.5. Test your soil; lower numbers indicate the mix is overly acidic—a higher figure means the dirt is alkaline. If you need to alter the balance of your Ohio garden’s soil, add lime products to raise the pH or sulfur fertilizer to lower it. (Soil testing kits are available at garden stores, nurseries and your local university extension office).
Pole Beans and Bush Beans
Green beans are categorized in three ways: bush, pole, and half-runner.
Bush beans grow directly from mounds in the soil—the stems are 1 to 2 feet tall. If you prefer pole beans, you’ll need a trellis or staking system to allow the vegetation to climb; they can reach up to 15 feet tall. Half-runner beans rise several feet taller than the bush style, but they are shorter than pole plants. Staking half-runner beans to a trellis or caging system may help the plants produce more pods.
Bush-style bean seed recommendations for Ohio gardens:
- ‘Blue Lake 274’
- ‘Burpee Tender Pod’
- ‘Bush Romano’
- ‘Kentucky Wonder Bush’
- ‘Romano Bush’
Pole-style bean seed recommendations for Ohio gardens:
- ‘Blue Lake’
- ‘Kentucky Blue’
- ‘Kentucky Wonder’
- ‘Scarlet Runner’
Half-runner bean seed recommendations for Ohio gardens:
Bean Seed Planting
As with most garden plantings, bean seeds must be embedded into the soil after the danger of frost has passed and that is always guessing game in Ohio! Staggering the plantings every 2 to 4 weeks will keep you in fresh beans until early-mid August, at the very least.
Average Frost Dates in Ohio
LAST FROST DATE
FIRST FROST DATE
Plant the seeds about an inch deep; spaced anywhere from 2 to 6 inches apart and in rows about 18 to 24 inches wide. For pole beans, space the seeds 4 to 6 inches apart in rows of 3 feet wide. Add compost or fertilizer (if needed) and water. Beans require an inch of water each week but if your garden’s soil is too wet, the seeds may crack—they will not germinate. Do not soak the seeds in water before planting; overwatering can cause rotting and damage to their root systems. Remove weeds as necessary.
Diseases and Bugs
Diseases that affect bean plants include bacterial blights—they are yellowish blotches on leaves that resemble scorching. Over-saturation can bring on these blights. If bean plants produce only a few pods (or none), they may have contracted mosaic disease; foliage is yellow-green and irregularly shaped. There is no effective cure for bean mosaic disease.
Insects are commonly attracted to Ohio gardens. For beans, they include:
- Bean leaf beetle
- Corn earworm
- Leaf miner
- Mexican bean beetle
Organic pesticides and direct hand removal of insects will help keep your garden bug-free.
Bean Harvest and Storage
Crispy green beans taste best when harvested promptly; pick fully-grown pods before seeds inside have a chance to swell. Overly-mature seeds bulge to the inside of the pod skin, making the entire bean dry, tough and chewy.
Moisture and dew can lead to the spread of bacterial blight; harvest your green beans when the soil is dry. Store freshly-picked beans in the refrigerator from 7 to 10 days. For longevity, beans should be canned, dried or frozen. If you freeze green beans or any other kind of garden vegetable, they must first be blanched.
Blanching is the process of scalding or steaming beans (and other vegetables) before freezing. Doing so will prevent tough pods, funky tastes, and pale coloring.
As soon as beans and other vegetables are harvested from your Ohio garden, enzymes begin to activate and spread. The time and speed of the blanching process are important because if it isn’t done adequately, or the vegetables are boiled or steamed for too long, the veggies can lose their color, flavor, and nutrients.
One fairly easy way to blanch green beans is to place them into a gallon of boiling water.
- One pound of beans per gallon
- Cover the pot and time the boiling; for green beans, it’s about 3 minutes.
- Drain the beans through a strainer
- Cool the beans for 3 minutes in a container of ice water
- Strain and dry the veggies thoroughly
Whether you prefer steamed, boiled, canned, frozen or to eat them directly off the stem, fresh green beans from your Ohio garden will satisfy your “green” tooth!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
When are green beans ready for harvest in Southern Ohio?
The day of harvest depends on when you planted the beans, and what variety they are. Usually, pole beans are ready to harvest from 50 to 60 days from the time the seeds have sprouted. Bush beans are typically ready in 50 to 55 days. I live in Central Ohio, where we tend to stagger our plantings two weeks apart. I always suggest picking beans when they are young and tender -- the seeds haven't gotten very big and dry. This season was very wet in spring and early summer so many farmers and gardeners didn't get their crops in on time. We actually lost all of our cucumbers, pumpkins, broccoli and most of the corn. Our green beans had less of a yield than normal and they were done by August first.
© 2019 Teri Silver