Spacing for Pole Beans

socalfarmerApril 11, 2011

I have raised beds which are highly ammended with organic materials, full sun, ample water, good support for my question is, how close can I plant pole beans (blue lake & Kentucky Wonder) without affecting production or encouraging disease? Thank you!

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For beans, it is not so much a matter of how much you have amended the soil as it is a question of how much sunlight the plants will get. Ky Wonder and Blue Lake are both available in pole and bush versions. Presuming you are planting pole beans, you can put 3 seed per foot of row with about 2 feet between rows. This will require very strong support with some type of trellis. The plants will be so thick that picking them will be a challenge.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 1:17AM
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I used to plant pole beans in a double row, 6 inches apart and about 6 inches between the double rows, on either side of the CRW trellis, and about two feet between these trellises. Now I plant in an oval cluster behind individual short run trellises, beans about 4 to 6 inches apart in the oval.They sort themselves out as they climb the trellis.

I hope your raised beds can hold up a trellis. My raised beds are so loose they can only hold wire hoop trellises. For straight rows I drive fence stakes and wire the lengths of CRW to them.

CRW = concrete reinforcing wire. What will you use for trellis?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 2:07AM
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I have a rather small garden, hence the desire to plant the beans close together. I have two large circular tomato cages I made out of concrete reinforcing wire a few years ago. They are two panels high of the wire. I am going to attach them to stakes for additional support. I thought I would try beans on these this year as I don't really have the room for long rows. Wind is not usually a problem in So Cal in the summer so I think they will be stable enough. I will try the beans 4" apart on one and 6" on the other and see if there are any differences between the two. Thanks again

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 2:42PM
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Socal, I think you could put a few inside in the middle of the circle too. They will grow towards the sun and spread themselves out to compete for exposure and cover every inch of the trellis surface. All you need to worry about is that they not be so close that they stunt each other. This is partially dependent on your soils, conditions, water, heat, variety, etc. But make sure that you don't have so much nitrogen that the vines are all leaf and no bean. You need potassium for flower and bean formation. If the vines are longer than the cages are high, they will tangle and flop over in a mass at the top too, and this could make them tippy so the stakes are a necessity. If the soil dries out too quickly, use mulch. Grass clippings work well, as does plastic mulch. If your location is too hot for common beans, grow them in winter and grow limas or butterbeans or cowpeas in summer. Limas love heat.

If you have enough CRW to make a 6 foot tall hoop trellis, running east/west, you could plant other things that don't mind partial shade beneath them, too.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 4:07PM
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Thank you for the advice on the nitrogen. I have added lots of purchased & homemade compost, worm castings (I have a bin of the little critters) and Dr Earth's Veg Fertilizer which is 5-7-3. Do you think I am OK potassium wise? What is a hoop trellis; like an arch? Thanks

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:04AM
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I meant to say that you need phosphorus for flowering. Phosphorus is the middle number and it is the highest so you should be ok with that fertilizer. Yes a hoop trellis is like an arch. CRW is too floppy to hoop by itself under stress but a hog or cattle panel makes a fantastic hoop trellis. Last year I bought some 20 foot, 3/8 diameter rebar and wired CRW between them to make arches strong enough to hold the weight of a bean vine under wind. Search this forum for Trellis and you will find some other fine examples.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:53AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

The distance between rows for pole beans will depend upon the height of the poles or trellis. Too close, and shading will reduce the yield. My trellises are just over 6' tall, and 36" between rows is my bare minimum... for the less vigorous varieties. I've had my best luck with 42" between rows for "Kentucky Wonder", which has denser foliage.

But that is for multiple rows... which would be a waste of space in a raised bed. It might be better to plant a single row of pole beans on the North end of the beds, where shade will not be an issue. Then you could plant shorter veggies close to them on the South side. I over-plant pole beans (when I am not using transplants) in hills 12" apart & thin to the 2 strongest seedlings. Alternatively, you could plant 2 seeds every 6".

One note about pole bean shade. When I lived in San Diego, I planted some of my pole beans (limas) in North-South rows, and planted my paste tomatoes on the East side of those rows. This protected the tomatoes from the hot afternoon sun, and they really thrived in that location, with almost no sun scald.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:54AM
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