Results are in: Pole Beats Bush
This is the time of year when seed companies often have seeds on sale. If you are planning next year’s garden already and shopping for seeds, I have some thoughts on pole beans versus bush beans. For years I only planted bush beans. The seed companies have descriptions like “compact, upright habit, needs no support” for bush beans. This sounded easy to me so that’s what I planted. I didn’t want to have to put up some kind of trellis for them to climb on. This year I planted pole beans between two rows of potatoes.
I had planted the potatoes around last years tomato structure. I had tried two stakes with double horizontal wires between them and trained the tomatoes between the wires. It worked okay……for a while. The stakes were 6 foot and it took some effort to get them deep enough into the ground to support the wires so at the end of the season, I just left them. It took a while to train the pole beans up to the horizontal wires and then I added some smaller vertical wires for them to climb. the beans weren’t too picky, several of them spiraled up the stakes instead, others tried to climb the potatoes that had a head start. I also planted bush beans in another part of the garden thinking I’d have a later crop once the pole beans died down.
While this is not a true scientific comparison, I think I’ll be planting pole beans from here on out. The pole and bush beans were planted at different times and in different spots but the pole beans far out performed the bush beans. They were much easier to find. At the peak I was picking a pound of green beans ever other day from a 4 foot row. The bush beans were harder to pick. You had to comb through the plants and it was much harder on my back to pick them (I hate to admit that). Because you have to comb through the plants of the bush beans to find the beans, you can’t see any spiders as easily. I always wear gloves and long sleeves to pick, I learned that the hard way.
I only sprayed once for bugs with an organic spray and the pole beans were much easier to spray and I think it was more effective. Both pole and bush beans are still producing even though I thought I’d let some of the pole beans mature to get seeds . So far I’ve picked over 13 pounds of green beans from the pole beans and just under 5 pounds from the bush beans. I know I planted 16 bush plants and I’m not sure how many pole beans I planted but I have 13 plants growing.
In spite of all of the above, the real deciding factor is taste. I like the taste of the pole beans better.
If you decide to plant pole beans next year, here are some suggestions for easy supports. Get a tomato cage and put it upside down. Plant the beans around the circle. Stick the pointed ends at the narrow top into a tennis ball or rubber ball or tape them together with duct tape for safety. Bamboo Tiki torches are cheap this time of year. Get a few and stick them in the ground for the beans to climb on. You can always purchase a trellis or some fencing to construct one but you might look around to see what you have sitting around in the garage that plants could climb on and neighbors wouldn’t turn you in to the home owners association if you have it in your yard (bed springs?, sides of a baby crib? maybe not, but think outside the box). Any other ideas, I’d love to hear about them.