By mid-summer, pole beans are starting to look tired. Even if you've been succession planting bush beans, you may be wondering if it's too late or too hot to keep trying in August. Fall grown beans actually seem more tender and flavorful. Maybe its the milder weather.
If you've got about 2 months of frost free or frost protected weather, you can still grow another crop of beans. Here are some fall bean growing tips:
- Grow a bush bean that matures in about 45 days. There are probably still seed packs available in the garden center. At this time of year they should be on sale.
- Amend the soil with compost or composted manure, even if you did so in the spring. A half inch layer worked into the soil should do it. These beans are going to take off and will need a rich soil to feed them and retain water as they grow.
- Water the soil before planting the beans. Soak it thoroughly. Having the bean seed on a moist bed will not only speed germination, it will cool the soil in the heat of the summer.
- If you're planting in Zone 8 or above, add a layer of loose mulch. An inch of shredded straw will keep the soil cool, but allow the bean seedlings to emerge.
- Initially the temperatures will be hotter than beans prefer. Compensate with regular watering. Let the soil dry out between waterings, but don't let it remain dry for more than a day.
- Keep a vigilant eye for pests and disease. There are more pests in the area in fall and they are finding less succulent new plants to feast on, so your beans would be an easy target.
- If the weather turns cold before you harvest, protect your beans at night with a row cover. You can use woven fabric, plastic, newspapers or old sheets.
- Pick your beans young and tender. If the weather cooperates, your bean plants will keep producing until killed by frost.
Some great bean varieties for fall gardens include:
- Top Crop
- Early Bush Italian (anything with 'early' in the name)
Why stop with beans? Here are more suggestions of vegetables to grow in a fall garden. You could be harvesting for the holidays.