Bush beans – planting, care and harvest

bush beans
bush beans

Bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris var. nanus) grow rather densely and do not climb in height. The legumes are heat-loving and, with proper care, provide an earlier harvest than pole beans.

Origin and features

When growing beans, a distinction is made between low-growing bush beans and the runner beans. Bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris var. nanus) usually cause few problems during cultivation and produce a relatively early yield. The legumes are a member of the papilionaceae family (Faboideae) and, like runner beans and scarlet runner bean, belong to the common or snap beans, which originally come from Central America. Because of their origin, beans are sensitive to heat requirements. They cannot be put outdoors until the soils are warm enough.

Originally, bush beans, which grow only 30 to 50 centimeters (12 to 20 in) high, were climbing plants that were cultivated as low beans in the 19th century. Three heart-shaped leaves are attached to each of their stems. Three to five flowers in white, yellow or purple appear per stem in late June. As with other bean species, bush beans come in a wide range of early, mid and late varieties in a wide variety of shapes and colors.

Location and soil

Bush beans are not too demanding on the soil. However, it should be deep, preferably calcareous and not crusted. Sunny to semi-shady locations are best.

Sowing and planting bush beans

Like runner beans, you can preplant bush beans in a greenhouse. This prevents infestation with the bean seed fly and, in the best case, ensures an earlier harvest. To do this, plant four to five seeds about two centimeters (0.8 in) deep in pots filled with compost and about centimeters (4 in) in size at the end of April. Water the seeds well. Until germination, keep the pots warm and bright at about 20 °C (68 °F) and keep them moist. Gradually accustom the seedlings to cooler temperatures and plant them in the bed only after the last frosts

The beans are very sensitive to cold. The higher the temperatures, the faster the seeds germinate. Generally, sowing directly into the open ground is possible until mid-July. You can sow the beans either in clusters or in rows. When sowing in rows, place a seed in furrows about 3 centimeters (1.2 in) deep every 5 to 10 centimeters (2.5 to 3.5 in). The spacing between the rows should be 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 in). When sowitn in clusters, place about five seeds about 3 centimeters (1.2 in) and 40 centimeters (16 in) apart. Since several sprouts push out of the soil at the same time, this increases the stability. This method of cultivation has become especially popular on heavy soils. In cold springs, covering the seedlings with fleece or foil can be a heat-retaining measure.


After germination, bush beans should be mounded, as this also increases stability and leads to vigorous root growth. During the period from flowering to fruiting, bush beans have the greatest need for water and must be kept well moist. You should also hoe and loosen the soil regularly. In this way, the pupae of the bean seed fly are disturbed and do not cause major damage.

Crop rotation and mixed cropping

Cereal species are well suited as preceding crops for bush beans. And the bean itself is also a good preceding crop, as it leaves a fertilized and weed-free bed. Good neighbors are collard greens, celery, lettuce, beets, and tomatoes, whereas peas and other beans should not be grown with bush beans. The ideal mixed-crop partner is savory. It repels the black bean aphid. When cooked with it, it also makes beans more digestible. Cultivation of beans is possible for three years in the same place.

Harvest and utilization of bush beans

Early varieties are ready for harvesting already at the beginning of summer. The pods should be harvested regularly, as long as they do not form thick grains. In this way, they form new fruit sets. During the main harvesting period, harvesting should be done every three days.

If you want to prepare bush beans, you must cook them first before using them in soups, salads and stews. Some varieties such are well suited for drying. Beans can also be easily preserved!

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