So you’re ready to grow healthy bean plants? It’s not as hard as it sounds. Before we dig deeper, a brief history to help you understand this amazing plant.
The bean ( Phaseolus vulgaris ) is a staple food in Mexico and many other countries in the world.
This legume is native to Mexico, and has more than 10,000 registered varieties. Beans have been a part of Mexican history for hundreds of years and are used as one of the main crops in the milpa.
Also, beans have many benefits to our health. Discover how to grow this legume at home or in your environment, its benefits, the proper spacing, and some recipes.
Due to the fact that Mexico is the country of origin of beans, there are hundreds of varieties used depending on the growing area.
We can divide the varieties into two large groups: bush or guide beans. Bush beans grow on a small bush and do not spread, while guide beans are spread out and may have several branches. Some varieties are black bean, May flower, June flower, pinto, white, among others.
The bean is a legume that is sown directly into the ground. The distance between sowing Beans is 15 cm and the depth is three times the size of the seed. To ensure that our plants will germinate well, we can sow 2 seeds in each space.
This technique is close planting although you can also do a crop association. The plants will germinate between 3 and 8 days depending on the temperature, it is important to maintain the humidity in the soil.
Further into this article, we would take a closer look at the entire cycle of beans planting down to the harvest season.
Land Preparation for Planting Beans
One of the most popular summer vegetables is the bean! Fresh beans can be eaten in salads and in many favorite cooking recipes, while there are also varieties that are planted for dried beans to make our favorite bean soup and giant beans.
We plant the beans, usually, in the spring to have our production in the summer and early fall.
And for those who do not have a garden available, we can plant beans in a pot on the balcony to enjoy a good production. Beans have a high nutritional value, as they are rich in protein, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and minerals.
Because they are so low in fat, they are recommended in all diets and nutritional programs.
Soil preparation work depends on the conditions of each terrain. The beans can be established on soil prepared with traditional tillage and also with the minimum tillage system, provided that efficient irrigation management can be carried out.
An analysis of bacteria in the soil is recommended to identify the presence of pathogens, and where appropriate, incorporate antagonists to restore the balance of the microbial fauna. Bean cultivation needs fertile soil, rich in organic matter and with good drainage to have good growth and fruiting.
When preparing the soil for cultivation, we first plow the field to make the soil quite fluffy, as it is necessary for the formation of a rich and strong root system of the bean.
Then, before planting the beans, we incorporate enough compost , digested manure and organic fertilizer to enrich the soil with organic matter and nutrients.
Characteristics of Bean seed
Beans are a summer crop, which we can start sowing in March. The bean has two forms of growth depending on its type of growth: kill and guide.
The bush bean forms a shrub that can be between 30-40cm tall. While the guide bean develops stems that can reach a length of 80cm, they become scattered on the ground or preferably on a plant or mesh. Beans grow in green pods, containing 4 – 6 seeds in each. Bean seeds have an approximate half-moon shape, their size and color change according to their variety.
This crop can grow perfectly in full sun or a little shade in very hot places. They can be grown in containers that have a minimum depth of 30 cm so that their roots develop better.
Before sowing, we must prepare the container or cultivation bed. Beans can grow in different types of soil but have good drainage. With a pitchfork or shovel, mix the soil and add a layer of compost, incorporating it into the first few inches of the soil.
How to Care for Beans
It’s not uncommon to make a bed for beans to transplant them into our garden, as is the case with okra and corn.
We prefer to plant the bean with seed directly in the soil. In this way, our beans take root better and have a richer growth. Before sowing, put the beans from the previous night on a damp cloth to hydrate and germinate faster.
Plant the beans directly in the soil, at a depth of 4-5 cm, 2-3 bean seeds in each planting location, at distances of 20 – 40 cm between plants and 50-80 cm between planting lines. Beans are relatively demanding to water and need regular watering to have good and quality production. When planting beans, avoid large amounts of water because the bean seed may rot and not germinate.
During the flowering and fruiting period of the bean, sufficient water is required and not excess, as excessive watering can cause the flowers to fall and the fruit to fail.
In no case do we leave the bean plants completely uncooked “so that the fruits bind”, as old growers claim, because in this way the flower dries and falls. Usually, we water the beans every two or three days during the spring period and every 1-2 days during the summer period, so that the soil is kept relatively moist around the bean root. We prefer a drip irrigation system to have more efficient watering of the beans and to make water exclusion.
Bean cultivation has significant fertilization needs to ensure good growth and production.
In addition to the basic fertilization when planting with a complete organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium , it is important to add every three weeks organic fertilizer, fortified with potassium and magnesium to enhance fruit production.
To enhance flowering and fruiting can be sprayed with a zinc solution, while it is important to add additional iron fertilizer to ensure green vegetation and avoid the appearance of yellow leaves.
Pests and diseases in beans
- Whitefly: very small insects that transmit diseases to plants. When flying, they look like white powder.
- Weevil: This pest feeds on seeds both in pods and in storage. To prevent this plague from ending up with our seeds, we can save the seeds in a jar and fill it with flour. This will prevent oxygen in the bottle and the weevils will drown.
Some common diseases in beans are rust ( Uromyces phaseoli ), rot ( Rhizoctonia solani ), and charcoal rot ( Macrophomina phaseolina ), we can prevent diseases by having good drainage, avoiding weeds and crop rotation.
Nutrients of legumes
All plants need nutrients from the soil, which must always be available in order for them to develop properly. The three main nutrients that plants use are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
Nitrogen is one of the most important for the development of the plant. If this nutrient is scarce in the soil, the plants will not develop.
Legumes are nitrogen fixers, produce their own nutrition, and provide nitrogen to the soil. To do this, they use rhizobia (Rhizobium leguminosarum) which are bacteria that form nodules on the roots of plants.
These bacteria take nitrogen from the atmosphere to convert it into available nitrogen for the plant. While the plant provides organic components obtained by photosynthesis.
Harvest and storage of Beans
Beans can be harvested in the pod (green bean) or seed (bean). The pods are harvested when we see that the beans inside the pod measure approximately 1cm each, the size of the pod will depend on the variety of bean.
To harvest the seeds, we must wait for the plant to finish its development and the pods have between 70-90% of the dry pod.
If we have few plants, we can harvest from pod to pod. If we have many plants, we can harvest the complete plants when they are 50% dry; cut the plant from the base of the stem and put it in a paper bag or sack. Hang the plants upside down in a cool, dry place to finish drying.
Since the pods are completely dry, it is very easy to separate the seeds from the pods.
In a bucket, place all the dry pods and crush them with something heavy, the goal is to break the pods so that the seeds come out and go to the bottom of the container.
Then remove the dried pods and plant debris. We can store our seeds in a glass jar to avoid pests and diseases and keep them in a cool and dry place. Beans can be stored for many months, in good condition for up to 7 months.
Beans is a wonderful crop that is used to prepare very tasty, and healthy meals.
The knowledge in this article is adequate to ensure that the reader is able to have a good beans cycle, and a bountiful harvest.
The article clearly states the standard spacing for beans plants as well.