Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Growing Beans from Seeds and Seedlings

Green bean seeds held by a child

Green bean seeds held by a child

Green beans germinate and grow so quickly that gardeners rarely start them indoors as seedlings. In fact, green beans do not respond well to transplanting because they have tender roots. If you simply can’t wait until the outdoor soil is warm enough to direct sow, start your green bean seeds in peat pots or similar vessels that can go straight into the garden, undisturbed.

Seed Planting Process

Green beans are a warm weather crop that can be planted after the last spring frost. But don’t rush it! Green beans planted when the ground is too cold are susceptible to rot. Wait until soil temperatures are at least 50 to 60 degrees F. You can warm up the soil more quickly by covering it with landscape fabric or plastic sheets, weighed down.

Sow seeds 1 to 2 inches below the soil, 2 inches between plants for pole beans and bush beans. Once the seeds germinate, thin to 6 inches apart for bush beans and 3 inches for pole beans. If planting bush beans in rows, leave 18 inches between rows.

Growing Seedlings

Green bean seedlings

Green bean seedlings

You can get seedlings from the garden store or start your seeds in plantable containers indoors. Start the seeds indoors about four weeks prior to the last spring frost and plant the seedlings about two weeks after the frost, when the soil is warm enough. Space plants as you would for sprouted, thinned seeds.

Pole or runner beans will need support in the form of bamboo poles, trellises, half hoops (for a tunnel), etc., which you should set in place when the shoots are about 4 inches high. If you’re planting pole beans to grow in a teepee fashion, use bamboo poles at least 7 feet tall and group four to six seeds at the base of each pole. Tie string around the poles to halfway up so the beans have something to grab onto on their way up.


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