Overview: When starting from seed, there are two categories that beans can be grouped into: pole beans and bush beans. Both types are almost identical, but pole beans will climb once the plants progress in growth, and will need some form of support to grow on. Bush beans will require less maintenance in this way, but pole beans will typically produce a larger quantity of beans to harvest.

burgundy beans (purple in color)
Burgundy beans (bush type)
Scarlet runner beans (with green pods) hang from their vine
Scarlet runner beans (pole type)

Seed Starting: Beans typically grow best when planted directly outdoors. Because they generate their own nitrogen for use in the soil, they will not need supplemental compost or fertilizer unless your soil quality is particularly poor. Sow bush beans 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart in rows that are around a foot and a half apart. Sow pole beans the same way, but be sure to set up stakes for support around them prior to planting seeds (source).

Growing, Harvest, and Special Advice: If you continue to plant beans year after year, they will benefit from crop rotation (that is, planting them in a different bed or patch of soil the next year) to prevent diseases. Beans should be watered often, about 2 inches of water per square foot of soil weekly. It is also best recommended to water on sunny days to prevent moldering of plants. Once pole beans reach the top of their supports, you can pinch off the extra stems to encourage the plant to put more energy into growing bean pods instead of getting taller. They should also be harvested in the morning when their sugar content is at its highest – the more you harvest, the more will grow!


Easy Garlic Green Beans (original recipe can be found here):

  • 1 pound of trimmed green beans, washed, drained, and halved crosswise
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 to 12 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 small onion (½ cup), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  1. Bring 3 cups of water in a large pot to boil over medium high heat. Stir in the salt.
  2. Add the beans and cook for 7 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to cook evenly.
  3. Remove from the heat. Drain the beans through a strainer over a bowl. Reserve ½ cup of the bean cooked water for later use.
  4. Put the same pot back on the stove. Turn on the heat to medium high.
  5. Add the vegetable oil and garlic, stirring with a wooden spoon for 1 minute, until the garlic start to get a little crispy and light brown.
  6. Add the beans, the reserved ½ cup bean cooked water, soy sauce, and onion.
  7. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, occasionally turning and flipping with the wooden spoon, until the soy sauce mixture boils down and the beans turn savory and tender. Remove from the heat and stir in sesame oil.
  8. Transfer to a serving bowl or plate and serve with rice. The leftovers can be refrigerated up to 1 week.

Written By Sophia Beland.