Do beans such as navy beans or kidney beans have to be staked?

allenwrenchJuly 12, 2008

Do beans such as navy beans or kidney beans have to be staked? If so, what do you use?

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jimster(z7a MA)

You can pretty much rely on the fact that any dried bean which is commonly sold these days is a bush bean and requires no staking. That's because they must be suitable for mechanical harvesting as well as avoiding the cost of trellises by the acre.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 12:36PM
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How about string beans? Is the only bean that needs a stake pole beans? Is that why they are named as such?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 6:45PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

We really must develop a forum lexicon on beans. The nomenclature of beans is so confusing and full of ambiguities.

For instance, I'm not sure when you say string beans if you mean beans that have strings which must be removed or if you mean snap beans. Worse, either of those can be bush beans or pole beans. See what I mean? Most of the folks on this forum will say that pole beans need to be trellised (not staked). Bean types also sometimes include runners and half runners. Just to cloud the picture a little more, runner has more than one meaning, IIUC. A half runner is just one ambiguous son-of-a-gun, IMO.

All I can say, Mr. Wrench, is stay with this forum, pick up the knowledge bit by bit and hope we develop a great lexicon at some point.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 8:23PM
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I just started to garden so I don't know all the right words.

When I say string bean I mean something like KY Wonder or Blue Lake?

Stakes I am talking about a 5 or 6 foot pole.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 9:22AM
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It can be confusing, but I doubt that we will ever agree on the buzz words. In general tho, common beans that have climbing vines are called pole beans. Old timers like myself spent hours in our youth cutting slender 6-8 foot poles for them to climb on. Some were planted in cornfields where they used cornstalks as poles ( cornfield beans). Climbing beans in the P. coccineus group are called runner beans, but also need poles or trellis to climb on. Half runners have short stubby vines and are usually treated as bush beans. In good soil some cultivars become a tangled mass that can benefit form some support. With exception of a few older pole beans, string beans are a thing of the past. Most snap beans, both green and wax, are stringless.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 5:30PM
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For a reference on beans, here are a few things to think about.

String Bean - old definition was any bean that had to have the strings removed as part of their preparation.

String Bean - new definition is any bean that is consumed in the shuck usually by snapping them into lengths of about an inch.

Pole Bean - Any bean that requires a support to grow on. You could grow a pole bean for snapping or a pole bean for green shellies or a pole bean for dried beans.

Bush bean - any bean that does not require support to grow on.

Bunch Bean - usually refers to a bush bean, but sometimes refers to a named variety such as Striped Bunch which is a pole bean.

Runner Bean - sometimes refers to a pole bean meaning it has to have support, but also refers to the species known as runner beans. Generally speaking, true runner beans do not grow well in the deep south.

Half Runner - usually refers to a bean that produces short runners up 4 feet long. The most famous of the type is the White Half Runner which has been pretty much ruined genetically by efforts to breed in disease resistance. These beans benefit from a support such as a piece of hog wire that the short runners can climb on. Interestingly, the half runner phenotype can be dated back to the days of the indians when it was one of the primary bean types grown.

Cornfield Beans - refers to a bean that can be grown on corn stalks for support. These beans are usually very vigorous and tolerant of shade. There are numerous distinct varieties that are referred to as 'Cornfield Beans' to the extent that people argue over which one is the true Cornfield Bean.

Butterbeans - depends on the part of the country you are in to define them, in the southeast, a butterbean is a sieva type lima. In other parts of the world, any lima bean is a butterbean. Some bush lima beans are known as butterbeans and others are called butterpeas.

Are you confused yet?

I grow some really old varieties of bean for pleasure and to produce seed. One of my greatest pleasures is to find a really old bean that still has ripcord strings. These beans tend to have exceptionally good flavor because they were selected to produce a bean instead of a green shuck.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 11:54PM
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This year I grew Romano type ("spotted") beans for drying. Those take 10-foot supports. I grew Lena cooking beans (small, white), a "twining bush or shorter pole" type.

Aztec Red Kidney is a bush type that I tried for the first time. As with many other "bush" plants (like some bush tomatoes), I have to say that my idea of a bush is a rose, honeysuckle, hydrangea, Saskatoon, blueberry... the thing stands up by itself. So, labelled "bush" or not, the kidney beans were all over the ground until I tied them loosely to tall poles.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 10:21AM
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