Pole Beans aren't Cooperating

nutsaboutflowers(2b/3a)July 11, 2013

My pole beans have grown over a foot taller than my maypole already.

A day ago I took a few nylon strings from another maypole and attached them to a four foot tall tomato support. I took the ends of the pole beans and wrapped them around the strings so that they would work their way down the string and then I intended to lead them horizontally across other strings for a while.

Well, they just don't want to do that. They've already changed direction and wrapped themselves around the string facing upwards again ! :)

What do you do with your pole beans when they get bigger than their supports? If I figure out a way to have them horizontally right away instead of trying to lead them downwards, do you suppose they'll cooperate?

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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Pole beans only grow upwards, and only wind counter-clockwise! It's pretty much a rule that whatever you provide for them to climb on, will be too small and utterly unsuitable. I'm considering just pruning the tops of mine this year. Wonder if that would kill them or what?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 12:41PM
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If your support is a decent height, like 6 feet or so, don't worry about them reaching the top. When they find they can't grow any taller the tops will flop down and stop growing and the plant will fill out lower down and become much bushier. Here's a pic from late August a few years ago -- the supports are just 3- 1"x2" poles, with about 6 feet of the pole above ground and the poles bent together and lashed at the top to form a teepee. There is no string to climb on, they just climb up the poles, then fill out the area between when they hit the top and can't grow higher.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 1:01PM
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Here's a pic from today (July 11) to show how the beans look before they start to fill out:

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Hey, thanks Don ! GIllian and I learned something new today :)

My maypole is 70 inches tall. I guess I'll go outside and remove the extra strings and let them do their thing. That's so amazing that they'll know when to stop.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 1:23PM
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so here is the dumb question of the day if you have a short pole for support and they stop growing tall will they get beans faster?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 4:47PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Are you sure they stop growing Don? I grew scarlet runners for years and it seemed like they just hit the top and went around and around and formed a basketball looking thing but they didn't really stop. Last year I grew rattlesnakes for the first time and I recall they flopped down and sort of climbed back up themselves. My rattlesnakes are just exceeding the tops of the new trellis this year so I guess I'll find out what they do.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 9:15PM
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Hmm, can I post to this thread again yet? Or will this generate more "virus alerts" and kick me out of gardenweb when I click "submit message"?...

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 1:46AM
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Okay, seems I can post again...

I probably shouldn't have said that the beans stop growing... it's more like they stop growing "up" because they can't. They grow into the air, flop down when they get too long, then try growing up again. Repeat.

The net result is that you don't have to provide the beans with supports to grow to the maximum height of the beans, you just need to provide support for the beans to grow as tall as YOU want, then the beans will sort out how deal with the available support on their own. IMO, a 6 ft. (2 m) support is a good height, since it gives the beans some height but still allows easy picking.

As for the maximum height... when I was a kid in Ontario I grew scarlet runner beans up a string nailed to the windowsill of my second story bedroom window. That's about 20' tall, and the beans made it the whole way, and flowered up that high too (though I don't think any beans that high actually matured). But really, would you rather pick beans from an overgrown 6' high bean-tower, or from a string 20' high?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 1:58AM
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Pudge 2b

My poles are about 9' - they are 10' lengths of rebar pushed into the soil about a foot. I got these nifty rubber connectors from Lee Valley that work excellent with the rebar. I used this set up last year for the pole beans with good success - they did reach the top and started hanging back down again. A brisk cold wind all but killed them off for me last year, that was disappointing as there was still some season left before frost hit. This year I have them in a more protected bed, and I plan to wrap those teepees with Agribon cloth if something like that comes up again.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 1:46PM
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Those look good. The one on the right looks like it has less than 2 feet to hit the top, so should make it in a week or so.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 3:06PM
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