Holle is an expert in all things dogs, gardening, and horses. She is a professional writer by trade.
I'm an avid gardener. When I lived on a farm, I had a huge garden: the traditional type. Since we moved to town, there's no room on our 1/3 acre lot for a garden in the yard, so I began growing vegetables, strawberries, and herbs in containers. It's been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience!
Of course, there have been ups and downs, but every year, I learn something new, and that usually leads to a better garden the following year. In this article, I'll focus on growing green beans in containers, but most of the tips will help you grow other vegetables in pots or containers too.
What Vegetables Grow Well in Containers?
I've successfully grown lots of different types of veggies in containers. These include:
- bush beans
- pole beans
- cherry tomatoes
- yellow summer squash
- pattypan squash
- acorn squash
- butternut squash
- mustard greens
- bell peppers
- a variety of hot peppers
- different types of lettuces
To be honest, some of the aforementioned veggies are easier to grow than others, but they can all be grown in containers if you follow a few guidelines. Also, strawberries and herbs are great choices for containers.
The Best Green Beans to Grow
First of all, you need to decide if you want to grow bush beans or pole beans. Bush beans form bushy, compact plants, while pole beans ramble and climb. I've had much better luck with bush beans than I've had with pole beans.
Much of what I've read states that pole beans keep producing all summer, while bush beans make one big crop and then stop producing. This has not been the case for me. My bush beans do produce one big crop, but if I keep them picked, they'll keep putting on more beans. The subsequent crops won't be as large, though. When the plants stop blooming, I pull them up. Since we have a long growing season here in South Georgia, I can plant another crop of bush beans in the same year.
Which bush bean variety is best for containers?
The answer largely depends on your growing zone and on your specific locale. The first year I grew beans in containers, I planted several different varieties so that I could learn which one grows best for me. It was no contest. “Contender” produced more beans, was more resistant to diseases, and handled pests better than all the other varieties. They're tender and have a wonderful flavor, too! It's the only variety I grow now. Don't be shy about asking experienced gardeners in your area which variety or varieties grow best for them!
When shopping for bean seeds, be sure to read the package information. You'll probably want a stringless bean, and you'll want one that is resistant to diseases.
Best Containers for Bush Beans
I don't use fancy containers. Most of mine are used cattle feed tubs and plastic totes from Wal-Mart. The rectangular Wal-Mart totes are the perfect size for growing bush beans, and they're just $5 each.
Before you fill your containers with soil, you'll need to make sure you have adequate drainage. Drill several dime-sized holes in the bottom, and add some sticks, rocks, and/or pine cones. This will help with the drainage issue too.
Of course, make sure you place the containers near a water source and in a sunny spot. Beans will produce with a little shade, but they'll do much better if they get at least six hours of sunlight per day.
How to Plant Bush Beans in Containers
You'll need to start with good potting soil. To keep the soil light and loose, I like to mix in a little peat moss and some perlite. The soil needs to be deep enough so that a good root system can be established—about 12 inches works well.
Before planting the bean seeds, I mix some all-purpose vegetable fertilizer in the top 2 inches of the soil. Beans make their own nitrogen, so they don't need to be fertilized regularly, but I think a small dose at the beginning gets the plants off to a good start.
I plant my beans 5 inches apart, which is much closer than is recommended, but it hasn't been a problem for me. I always get lots of green beans! Each seed should be planted at a depth of 1 inch and then covered loosely with soil. After a container has been planted, I gently press down the soil with my hands. Next, I moisten the soil with a gentle spray of water.
Some people soak the bean seeds overnight before planting, but I haven't noticed a big difference in germination rate between soaked and unsoaked beans. The same goes for bean inoculant. I don't spend money on that.
Don't get in too big a hurry to plant! If the soil is too cool, your beans won't germinate. It's best to wait until the soil is close to 70°F before planting.
Keep Your Bush Beans Happy!
Beans like moist, but not soggy, soil. How often you'll need to water will depend on the weather. Obviously, you won't need to water on rainy days. In the spring, I usually water every second or third day. Once real summer heat sets in, I'll have to water every day, unless it rains. It's best to water at the base of the plants to keep down diseases that might be in the soil. It's also important to water deeply so that a good root system will be established.
When you water, check your plants for any signs of pests and diseases. Take care of any problems before they get out of hand.
Once you see blooms on your plants, you'll know that a big pot of green beans is in your future! I pick my beans when they're about the same diameter as a pencil. At the height of the growing season, I have to pick every day. We eat a lot of beans, I freeze a lot, and we give some away.
Green beans are very easy to grow. They're a great vegetable crop for beginning gardeners and for new container gardeners. Remember to plant several varieties your first year so that you'll know which one grows best in your area. Follow a few easy growing tips, and you're sure to be successful!
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.
© 2021 Holle Abee
Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 28, 2021:
Hi, Peggy! Good to hear from you!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 28, 2021:
Like you, I used to have a huge garden in the past. Now my space is more limited, and getting enough sunlight is an issue. It is good to know that you have such success growing your plants in containers. Homegrown food is so good!