**Side note: When growing beans that need to be dried/matured (when they are hard), take care with cooking. Many dried beans contain a toxin, Phytohaemagglutinin (commonly known as kidney bean lectin), that can be fatal in certain doses. To remove these toxins, you must soak the seeds/beans overnight, then boil them for hours in fresh water (or boil twice with a water change).**
Standard Green/String Beans: Beans will grow throughout the summer and can produce as long as there are warm days. Pick your area based on your bean type: pole beans need something to climb, a trellis, pole, fence, corn, etc; bush beans grow as a single plant, though they often do better with staking and tying them. Bush beans need air on all sides, so plant beans about 6-12” apart in an area with good sun. Pole beans can be placed closer together, every 6-8”, as they grow up, instead of out.
Your soil doesn’t need to be great, as beans are nitrogen-fixers, so plant them in soil that has been used up by a previous crop! Wait until your soil begins to warm (about 60oF before planting, as the seeds can rot in cool, damp soil. Beans don’t need a lot of care, but water at the base of the plant, instead of overhead, to help prevent rust, a common fungal infection. Planting in full sun also helps with this, as well as bean production. The more sun they receive, the more beans they will produce.
Water 1-2”/week, depending on your summer heat. If your leaves turn yellow, you’ll need to water more. Once you start to see flowers, beans come shortly after. Pole beans take longer to flower, as they grow long, sturdy vines first. When picking green beans, hold the stem and pinch or pull gently to keep the bean and stem intact without pulling down the whole plant. Beans can be eaten whole, raw or cooked. When flower production slows down toward the end of the summer, the plant can be pulled, or leave the last remaining beans to fully mature and dry to use as seeds next year.
Fava Beans: Fava beans are best grown in areas with cooler summers or as a fall/very early spring crop further south. If your temperatures are greater than 75o, the fava bean will not do as well (shade can help but not in 100o weather). Fava beans are considered bush beans, and thrive near strawberries, corn, cucumbers, celery, and potatoes. Avoid planting them near onions and garlic. Follow all the same planting directions as green beans. Fava beans put on beans from the ground up, so the ripest beans will be at the bottom. Pick large pods that you can feel larger beans. If it’s a small pod, it can be eaten like green beans. If it is larger, remove the fava bean from the pod. If the pod is too mature, the beans can be fibrous. Fava beans do contain kidney bean lectin (at lower doses than kidney beans). Fava bean leaves are edible as well!
Lima Beans: Lima beans will tolerate more heat than fava beans, and do well in the south. Follow all the same directions as fava beans. When temperatures are over 85oF, your lima beans may not produce flowers, but the beans will continue to ripen.
Pinto Beans: Pinto beans follow the same planting/use directions as green beans, or the pods can be left on the vine until they are dried. If you want dried beans, wait until the plant dies to pull everything, then harvest the beans from the dried pods.