Green beans are the unripened fruit of various cultivars of the common bean.
Green beans are the unripened fruit of various cultivars of the common bean.
USDA Hardiness Zones 3 - 10
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Green beans are the unripened fruit of various cultivars of the common bean. They are found in two major groups - bush beans and pole beans.
Bush beans are short, bushy plants, approximately 2 feet in height, that reach maturity quickly and produce all of their fruit in a short period of time. As a result, gardeners can grow more than one crop of bush beans per season.
Pole beans are climbing plants that produce twisting vines, and generally require stakes or other supports.
Many varieties of green beans exist, varying in color, shape and flavor. Bean plant leaves are generally oval or diamond shaped, appearing in trifoliate (three-leaf) alternating fashion on the stems of the plant. Leaves are green or purple; pods may be green, red, purple, yellow, black or streaked; flowers may be white, pink or lavender, and are generally produced in loose clusters on short stalks.
Bean plants are usually grown from seed but may also be grown from cuttings. They are not started indoors because they do not transplant well so directly seeded outdoors .
Although common bean plants can be grown in virtually every region of North America, they are frost sensitive. In cooler temperature zones, they are planted in spring and grown as summer crops. In warmer zones, bean plants are grown as winter crops.
Bean plants grown from seed will begin to sprout within 2 to 10 days, and in most varieties, flowers emerge 4 to 6 weeks after seeding. Immature bean harvest begins within 1 to 2 weeks after the emergence of flowers, and fresh beans are harvested every few days. Dry beans are ready to harvest 60 to 70 days after germination.
Green beans are typically ready for harvest approximately two weeks after flowers begin to bloom on the plant. Once immature beans begin to emerge, the pods are harvested every 2 to 3 days to ensure the plant remains productive.
For fresh green beans, pods are picked before the seeds mature and begin to form bumps. An optimal green bean pod is firm and snaps when bent. To remove bean pods, they are cut or pinched gently from the stems, rather than pulled in order to avoid injury to the plant.
Fresh green beans are stored, unwashed, in a plastic bag or airtight container in a refrigerator vegetable crisper. Green beans stored by this way will stay fresh for up to one week.
Green beans that have been frozen immediately after harvest are good for up to six months. To freeze green beans, they are washed and steamed for 2 to 3 minutes then cooled thoroughly before storing in airtight freezer bags.
In North America, beans are known as one of the “Three Sisters. These “Three Sisters” (including corn and squash) are the plants native to the Americas that comprised the main agricultural crops of North America’s indigenous people. The green bean is believed to have originally come from Peru and then spread throughout the continent via the migration of American Indians. In South and Central America, beans were eaten as early as 6000 BCE.
In Europe, the green or common bean’s relative, the broad bean, has been found at archaeological sites dating back to the Bronze Age. Broad beans were also found in ancient Egyptian tombs. However, it was not until the Spanish Conquistadors returned to Europe from the New World in the 16th century that green beans arrived on the European market.
Green beans eaten in pod form are often referred to as “string beans” because in the past, a tough, fibrous “string” ran the length of the pods, much like a zipper. It was necessary to remove the tough string to eat the beans. In 1894, a botanist named Calvin Keeney succeeded in removing the string from the pod through a selective breeding process, earning himself the nickname, “father of the stringless bean.” Many of today’s varieties of green bean are stringless descendants of Keeney’s stringless bean lineage.
The top five green bean producing countries are China, Indonesia, Turkey, India and Egypt (FAOSTAT, 2010),
There are more than 130 varieties of green beans, also known as snap beans. Green bean varieties come in bush and pole types, each of which have dozens of cultivars that come in all colors, ranging from green to yellow, purple, black and mottled.
Some of the bush bean cultivars include Tendercrop, Provider, Blue Lake, Dragon Tongue, Jade, Soleil, Goldcrop Wax and Royal Purple Burgundy. Pole bean cultivars include Kentucky Wonder, Romano Italian, Kentucky Wonder, and Fortex.
Green beans are consumed around the world in a variety of ways: Canned, dried, frozen or fresh.
They are commonly served as a side dish, in salads, casseroles, soups, and traditional holiday meals in North America and Europe.
Green beans are high in vitamins and minerals, low in calories and have zero saturated fat. They are one of the most sustainable crops in the North America, making them a healthy choice for our bodies as well as the environment.
-Green beans are rich in antioxidants. They have good levels of vitamin C, as well as high levels of the antioxidant mineral, manganese. In one study, green beans are shown to have higher antioxidant values than similar foods in the pea and bean category.
- They are extremely high in antioxidant phytonutrients, carotenoids. These include beta-carotene, neoxanthin, lutein, and violaxanthin. In fact, in some cases, green beans boast a carotenoid content that is comparable to that of carrots and tomatoes.
-Green beans also contain low levels of vitamins A and E, as well as the B-vitamins, B-6, niacin, riboflavin, folate and thiamin.
-The strong carotenoid and flavonoid content of green beans have anti-inflammatory benefits. Preliminary research suggests that green beans, with their high fiber content, may be beneficial in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
-A cup of raw green beans contains almost 15% of the daily recommended intake of iron, and 5 to 10% of the recommended daily allowance of other minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
-In addition to good iron content, which helps carry oxygen through the blood stream and promotes cardiovascular health, green beans also contain good levels of vitamin K, essential to blood clotting.
Green beans can be grown virtually anywhere in the United States. They require full sun to grow, but are not frost resistant. A trellis or other form of support is necessary to promote healthy growth and high yields from pole bean crops. Bush beans don’t require staking.
1. Choose a sunny spot in your garden with loamy soil. If there’s too much clay or sand, amend by working a light layer of manure or compost into the top 12 inches of soil.
2. Sow seeds after the last spring frost when average temperatures are no lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Sow seeds directly into the garden as they don’t transplant well.Avoid soaking seeds prior to or immediately after planting. Green bean seeds often crack when exposed to too much moisture.Plant seeds 1 to 2 inches deep, spaced 2 to 4 inches apart, and cover lightly with loose soil. Apply approximately 2 to 3 inches of mulch to regulate soil temperature and retain moisture.
3. Sow additional seeds every two weeks to provide a continual harvest through spring and summer.
4. Give plants approximately one inch of water weekly and pull weeds regularly to prevent them from choking young seedlings. Do not over fertilize. Over-fertilized green beans will produce an overabundance of foliage with low bean yields.
5. In regions with hot summers, stop planting during the warmest months. In cooler climates, stop sowing 10 to 12 weeks prior to the first frost.