Grow Vertical with Pole Beans

If you’re like me, and most other folks, space is often at a premium in the garden. I am always trying to find room for one more thing to grow, and I know I’m not the only one that struggles with that issue. One popular way to more effectively utilize that limited space is to go vertical with vining plants like beans. I’ve been growing various types of pole beans for quite a few years, and they are a good way to maximize your growing space while you also increase your yields.

pole beans reaching for the sky

pole beans reaching for the sky

There are several advantages to growing pole beans. For one thing, they typically produce two to three times as many beans per plant compared to bush beans. They also tend to produce those beans over a longer period of time, which makes them great for having lots of fresh beans to eat. And while taste is always subjective, many people think that pole beans taste better than the bush varieties.

Rattlesnake pole beans

Rattlesnake pole beans

There are certainly many different kinds of vining beans out there, including numerous heirloom varieties that have been handed down from generation to generation. Another added benefit I like is that the pole beans are produced higher off the ground, so they don’t require bending or stooping down to harvest them. And since the beans and vines are not coming in contact with the ground, you usually have fewer issues with diseases and spoilage.

htrellis for pole beans

trellis for pole beans

One thing for sure, the vining varieties need some kind of sturdy support. It can be as simple as wooden or metal stakes, or a little more elaborate setup like bamboo poles sunk in the ground and lashed together at the top to form a teepee. Since I grow a lot of pole beans every year, I like to put up a trellis using a mesh material like Trellinet or Hortonova. These lightweight materials are UV resistant, and with a little care they can be reused for more than one season. For the last two growing seasons I have used the Hortonova material, which has a 6″ by 7″ opening which allows ample access at harvest time. You can read more about how I put up the trellis here: Trellising the Pole Beans.

recent harvest of Musica, Gold Marie and Rattlesnake pole beans

recent harvest of Musica, Gold Marie and Rattlesnake pole beans

The actual planting and growing of pole beans is pretty much the same as for bush beans. If you’re new to growing beans, Cornell University has a Growing Guide that explains all the details. And you can check out their Pole Bean Varieties for information and independent reviews from gardeners all over. This year I am growing the snap beans Fortex, Musica, and Gold Marie, and the dual-purpose beans Cherokee Trail of Tears and Rattlesnake which can be harvested either at the green snap stage or allowed to grow to maturity and harvested as shell beans. My other pole bean for 2014 is Good Mother Stallard, an heirloom shell bean with maroon colored beans mottled with white and a great meaty and rich flavor.

Good Mother Stallard beans

Good Mother Stallard beans

If you’ve never tried growing pole beans, you might consider giving them a try in your garden. While it may take a little bit of time initially to set up the support system, the payoff will come at harvest time with lots of tasty beans.



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8 Responses to Grow Vertical with Pole Beans

  1. Margaret says:

    Pole beans are definitely a favourite around here and there are so many wonderful varieties to try. Those Good Mother Stallard beans look beautiful – I may have to add them to my list.

  2. Michelle says:

    I always grow pole beans, but I often grow bush beans as well, it depends on what kind of space I have available. Things have to be grown fairly close together in my big raised beds so I grow tall things on the north side and short things on the south side. This year that meant growing bush beans when the north side of the bed didn’t have enough space to put up a trellis when I wanted to get some beans going. Plus, some of my favorite dry beans are bush types, including Purgatory Beans (Fagiolo del Purgatorio). I use sections of concrete reinforcing mesh with 6-inch openings that I lash to 8-foot poles, those things last a long time, the ones I’m using now are over 10 years old.

  3. Autumn says:

    When I pick a lot of bush beans, my back does feel it. I tried Purple Podded Pole Beans two years ago, and they flowered but never produced beans. I haven’t tried pole beans again, but I probably should – there are so many interesting varieties. I do like that with bush beans I can squeeze them in between my spring and fall crops.

  4. Green Bean says:

    I have recently become addicted to planting pole beans so of course I love this post. I have had mixed success with my beans though so off to investigate the Cornell University link to see if it can help.

  5. Pole Beans are something I am trying out for the first time. Bush beans mature fester, and our growing season is supper short. They are growing great so far.

  6. Your beans look great! I can’t wait to try some of the varieties you mention next year. This year we planted Kentucky Wonder and we like them – except that they have strings. Thanks so much for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday! We hope to see you again this week.

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