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Beans

Growing beans in arid Southern Africa can also be a rewarding experience, and there are different types of beans you can choose from. Let’s explore how, when, and why to grow beans in arid regions:

Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/green-beans-in-colander-3298686/

How to Grow Beans:

  1. Choose the Right Time: Beans thrive in warm temperatures, so it’s best to plant them in the late spring or early summer when the weather is getting warmer in arid regions.
  2. Prepare the Soil: Like beetroot, beans prefer well-draining soil. Make sure to loosen the soil and remove any large rocks or debris. Adding organic matter or compost will improve the soil’s fertility.
  3. Sow the Seeds: Plant the bean seeds directly into the soil, about 2-3 centimeters deep. The exact depth may vary depending on the bean type, so follow the instructions on the seed packet.
  4. Spacing: Space the seeds about 10-15 centimeters apart in rows, and leave enough space between rows to allow the plants to grow and spread.
  5. Watering: While beans like warm weather, they still need regular watering, especially during flowering and pod development. Be consistent with your watering, but avoid waterlogging the soil.
  6. Support for Climbing Beans: Some bean varieties are climbers, and they need support as they grow. You can use trellises, stakes, or even create teepees for the plants to climb on.
  7. Mulching: Applying a layer of mulch around the bean plants can help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and keep the roots cool.
  8. Harvesting: Beans are usually ready to harvest in about 2-3 months after planting. Harvest the pods when they are plump, crisp, and the seeds inside are fully developed but not too large.

Types of Beans to Grow:

  1. Green Beans (Bush Beans): These are the most common type of beans and include varieties like “Provider,” “Contender,” and “Blue Lake.” They don’t need support and grow in a bushy form.
  2. Climbing Beans: Also known as pole beans, these varieties need support to grow vertically. Examples include “Kentucky Wonder,” “Scarlet Runner,” and “Purple Hyacinth.”
  3. Dry Beans: These beans are grown for their mature seeds and are perfect for drying and storing. Examples include pinto beans, kidney beans, and black beans.

Why Grow Beans:

  1. Protein-Rich: Beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein, making them a valuable addition to your diet.
  2. Drought-Tolerant: Many bean varieties, especially bush beans, are relatively drought-tolerant, making them suitable for arid regions.
  3. Soil Improvement: Beans are nitrogen-fixing plants, which means they take nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that enriches the soil. This can benefit other plants in your garden.
  4. Sustainable Crop: Beans are a sustainable crop that can be grown year after year, providing a reliable source of nutrition.

By growing beans in your garden, you can enjoy fresh and nutritious produce while conserving water and supporting a sustainable ecosystem. Just remember to choose the right time to plant, provide proper care, and select the bean varieties that suit your preferences and garden conditions. Happy gardening!

From www.planetnatural.com :

All bean varieties tolerate a wide range of weather conditions. As a result, they are a dependable crop that yield an abundance of pods in most backyard vegetable gardens.

Beans are one of the few crops that actually enrich the soil by adding nitrogen, making them perfect for organic gardens. Try planting leafy greens that need plenty of nitrogen like kale, spinach or cabbage in areas where beans were planted the year before.

Be aware that not all all bean plants are the same. Bush varieties typically get 2 ft. tall and require no staking. To harvest, just walk along the plants and pick. If you’re short on space and still want a bean harvest, pole varieties might be the perfect solution. These vining plants will climb a fence, trellis or a pole, leaving you with all of the space underneath to plant another low-growing crop like squash or a root vegetable. Check the seed descriptions to make sure you’re getting the right type.

Site Preparation

Plant seeds directly into rich, fast draining soil in spring after the soil has warmed. Full sun and regular water are essential, so make sure they aren’t in a dry or shady location. In general, bush types mature faster and are less sensitive to drought and extreme temperatures than pole types.

How to Plant

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Direct soe bean seeds one to two weeks after the last expected frost when the soil temperature has reached at least 60˚F. Plant seeds 3cm deep and 5-10 cm apart in rows 45-60 cm apart. Thin when the seedlings emerge so that bush varieties are 12cm apart; pole beans 20cm apart. In humid climates, increase the distance between plants to allow good air circulation. Provide support for vines in the form of a trellis or pole.

Beans grow well in moist — not wet — soils. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses can be used to direct water right to the plants’ roots. This will also keep the leaves dry, which helps prevent many fungal diseases.

Tip: Inter-planting beans with carrots may encourage predatory wasps. Read more about Companion Planting here.

Harvesting and Storage

Plants yield about 50 quarts per 100 feet of garden row. Pick often to keep plants productive; when harvesting immature pods, you encourage new blossoms to form. Pinch off bush beans with your thumbnail and fingers. Use scissors to harvest pole and runner beans. Allow 45-60 days for bush types to reach maturity. Pole types require more time — approximately 65 days.

Pods can be stored in the refrigerator crisper for up to 5 days for fresh use. They are also good for freezing or canning. If you want to use the beans in a dried form, not fresh, leave the pods on the vines or stalks until they are completely dry, and then follow the instructions under the Seed Saving Instructions heading below.

Insect & Disease Problems

Seedlings need protection from slugs and snails. Watch for irregular shaped holes on leaves and apply Sluggo Organic Bait or diatomaceous earth at first sign of damage. Other major pests to watch for include flea beetles, aphids and bean beetles. Rotate plants with other garden crops to prevent many pest problems. Learn about crop rotation here.

Common disease problems include mosaic virus, which causes plants to turn yellow-green and produce few or no pods. Infected leaves are usually irregularly shaped and puckered along the midrib. Bacterial blight could be a problem if yellow or brown spots are noticed on the leaves; water-soaked spots on the pods.

Tip: To avoid spreading fungal diseases, do NOT handle plants when foliage is wet.

Seed Saving Instructions

Flowers are self pollinating and almost never cross-pollinate. To ensure absolute purity separate by the length of the garden from other bean plants. It is always best to save garden seed from plants that ripen first and are free from disease. Harvest seed pods when completely dry, crush in a cloth or burlap sack and winnow the seeds from the chaff.

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