If you’ve provided your green bean plants with light, water, and nutrition, you will be rewarded with a healthy yield. Bush beans will produce ready-to-pick fruit about seven to eight weeks from sowing and keep producing for about three weeks. Pole beans take slightly longer than bush beans to produce but tend to produce continuously for about four to eight weeks once they get started.
Regardless of which type of green bean you grow, this rule applies: the more you pick, the more you get. Especially with bush beans, you will want to check every day for beans that are mature enough to pick. If you leave your green beans to keep maturing, you’ll lose crops two ways. First, without picking you won’t stimulate new pod growth. Second, green beans get their name because they should be harvested before they mature, when they’re still young and “green.” Once they start to bulge with the seeds inside, they are no longer tender or tasty.
For perfect picking, harvest your beans when the leaves are dry and the pods are smooth and slim, about 3 to 5 inches long, depending on the variety, and about the thickness of a pencil. If possible, harvest green beans in the morning when their sugar level is highest. Snap or cut the beans off the plant, don’t pull or tear, or you could harm the plant and remove unready beans in the process.
You can store your freshly picked green beans in the fridge, in an airtight, moisture-proof container, for up to four days. If you have an abundance of beans or don’t think you’ll eat them right away, blanch and freeze them. To do this, trim the stems off the beans and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge the beans into boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the beans from the pot and place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Pat them dry and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet in the freezer. When solid, remove the beans to an airtight container. You can also can or pickle beans.
Do you know exactly when to harvest your green beans? Please tell us what you look for when getting ready to harvest.