Starting Polebeans Indoors to Beat the Heat

roamwhereiwant2January 29, 2012

First off, kudos to donnabaskets for her summer rotation plan for polebeans to beat the heat. It sounds like a fine plan. What would happen if I started my beans indoors in peat pots? Does the soil have to be 60 degrees F to plant polebean starts or could it be 50 degrees? This winter has been so warm that I'm betting the really hot weather will come even earlier in 2012. If my memory is good, in 2009 we had 95+ in July. In 2010, it hit mid-June. In 2011 we got into the 90's in May. As you might expect, nights are warm and days are humid and hot.

I have all but given up on Fortex but might just try it again for 2012. I'd also like try Tennessee cut short and maybe Grandma Roberts purple pole for the first time. For cowpeas, I'm thinking Zipper Cream and Pennyrile. Unless there are tastier ones.

Any ideas or suggestions?

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rxkeith(z5 MI)

i start my pole beans in doors to beat the cold. late spring weather here can be rather fickle, so to ensure maximum germination, i start a few beans of each variety i intend to grow just in case. don't start them any sooner than 2 weeks before you intend to plant them outside otherwise they will be too tall, and they won't handle transplanting as well.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 9:28PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"...Does the soil have to be 60 degrees F to plant polebean starts or could it be 50 degrees?" -Roamwhereiwant2

Personally, I would recommend a soil temp of 70-80 degrees for beans. Less than that lengthens germination time, and can increase the chance of rot. Fortunately, the ambient in-home temperature of around 70 degrees falls in this range. I also recommend the use of sterile soil mix for starting beans, and sterile water if possible.

Ditto on Keith's comments. Because Spring conditions often delay planting here & I generally grow pole beans for dry seed, I use a lot of bean transplants. This overcomes possible germination issues in older seed, lets me start seed on time regardless of outdoor soil conditions, and guarantees a better stand in the row. It also guarantees me at least some harvest from beans which would otherwise be "iffy" for me because of a long DTM.

Roam, what are the recommended planting dates for beans in your region? In pushing your beans further back from hot weather, are you trying to overcome cool soil issues as well? I couldn't find a planting guide on the U of G Extension, other than for soybeans, which require similar soil temps for germination.

Once beans are germinated & have their first set of leaves, they can take cooler soil temps than would be required for the seed. You can leave them in peat pots a little longer than 2 weeks, but they must be placed in direct sunlight until transplant. When the first true leaf is fully grown, they should be transplanted as soon as possible. Much beyond that will result in some degree of stunting.

You can minimize stunting & transplant shock by placing sand in the bottom of the tray holding the pots. This allows the tap roots to grow through the sand, rather than be air pruned. These extra roots can be pulled gently from the sand at time of transplant. If handled carefully & kept from drying, these extra roots get the plants off to a good start.

Be sure to bury as much of the peat pot as possible during transplant, and tear off any parts which might protrude above ground. Any part of the pot which is exposed to the air will wick moisture away from the roots below, and can cause the pot to separate from the soil.

When planning your start date, allow 7-10 days for bean germination (at 70 degrees) and 3-5 days for germination of cowpeas. Not sure if it would be necessary to start the peas in pots, though; they should be able to take the heat.

There is a Master Gardener program in the Georgia Extension. If there is one near you, they might be able to give you better info for your specific area, such as recommended seed starting dates.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 2:17AM
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White Whipporwill is a very good cream type cowpea.

Fortex is an excellent bean and usually produces a good crop here in the southeast, but it is heat sensitive. Start seed early and put out transplants about the 1st to 10th of April. They do very well if seed are planted indoors and transplanted 2 or 3 weeks later. If you try to grow them inside for 4 weeks, they will get gangly with weak stems.

If you are getting seed from Sandhill, get some Blue Marbut beans and see what you think. They are an excellent canning bean.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 2:49AM
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rxkeith, thanks for the 2 week tip. It's good to know this can be done.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Thanks for the detailed response. I learned a lot from you. Our last frost date used to be April 1-10 (as Darrel suggested) but I think that this year will see very early heat or a late blizzard. I will add sand to the planting trays and do what I can to keep the bean seedlings nice and healthy.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 11:13AM
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Thanks for the Whipporwill suggestion. This will be the first time I order from Sandhill Pres. You've mentioned Grandma Roberts Polebean as your grandma's really good tasting and heat resistant bean in other posts, so naturally I have to grow it. I added Blue Marbut to my order and am looking forward to tasting it too. Sandhill has several greasy beans listed - is there one you like better than the others? I've been to Bill Best's site but he's a little too pricy for me this year, so I'll stick with Sandhill.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Yvonne - where are you located (approx.)? I'm reading this with great interest.

Last spring I started bush beans and pole romanos in March and covered with row cover on cool nights! We had no frosts in March or April!

I had the same heat issues last year too. I have raised beds which compounds the heat issue. Heavy mulching and soaker hose helped, but some of my beans (Kentucky Wonders in particular) just sat until cooler temps in September. I planted a second crop in late August and was still harvesting small crops of Rattlesnake and Helda (pole romano) in December... The plants were on cattle panels at 7 feet tall and weren't frost-killed until about Dec.10...

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 2:10PM
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Cindy, I'm in Lawrenceville. Are you going to plant in March again this year? I found cattle panels in Winder but I'm still working on a way to get one home.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 2:18PM
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Yes, I'll plant in March again. I have hoops over some of my beds and a big roll of reemay in case of cold temps. My salad garden is amazing this year - the bok choy is bolting from the warmth. But we have lots of greens, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and some beets coming along.

We got our cattle panels at Tractor Supply - they're about $20/16 foot piece. I can grow a lot of beans on one. We brought it home in our little trailer (5x8 I think). We curved them in half and tied a rope to hold them bent in the trailer and then tied them to the sides of the trailer. I think we got 4 in one trip.

They bent pretty easily - only trick is that when they are tied like that, they are under a lot of tension - so the untying has potential to be exciting. :)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 12:19PM
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