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Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

Posted by macky77 2a (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 4, 08 at 23:45

I'm already planning next year's garden and have a question. If I wanted to plant multiple rows of pole beans:

1. How far apart should each row be spaced?

2. Would anything planted in between get enough sun? I'd like to put rows of spring broccoli and cauliflower in between because they're done in early to mid July. Peas would also be done in late July or early August.

3. How tall should the trellises be?

4. Am I better off with bush beans for multiple rows? I'm familiar and comfortable with bush beans because I've grown them for years, but if all goes well, we'd like to welcome baby number two next fall and I can't imagine all that bending while preggo!

TIA for any advice. :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

In addition to their being economical of space, I grow pole beans because many varieties of beans I want to grow just happen to be pole types.

As to question #1, I don't yet know the answer. Right now I have 3 parallel rows at 3 foot spacing. When all the foliage is grown, the middle row will probably be too shaded. I'm pretty sure it will be. We shall see.

Question #3 will help to answer #2 because trellises should be as tall as you can reach, which means any low growing plants will be in dense shade much of the time. My trellises are 8 feet tall. The vines always exceed that and flop over.

Sorry to say, I haven't figured out the answer to #4 yet either. Growing vertically would seem to make better use of ground area yet, if rows must be widely spaced, some of that efficiency is lost. Mathematically, 8 foot trellises at 8 foot spacing would equal 100% coverage by bush beans, everything else being equal. But everything else is not equal.

That's the best I can do. As a relatively recent convert to pole beans, those questions have been on my mind, so I thought I would take a crack at some answers. The real experts will have better answers.

Jim


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

"Growing vertically would seem to make better use of ground area yet, if rows must be widely spaced, some of that efficiency is lost. Mathematically, 8 foot trellises at 8 foot spacing would equal 100% coverage by bush beans, everything else being equal. But everything else is not equal."

Exactly my thoughts. I hope someone can shed some light for us (pun intended). :) It seems all the info I find online has trellises on one edge of the garden or a few teepees in the middle, but I need more beans than that!! (Picking about 6 to 8 lbs every other day from my bush beans right now.)


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

Macky, Zeedman and Gardenlad both grow many kinds of pole beans on trellises. Gardenlad says that he puts his trellises 4 feet apart. Zeedman uses 3 feet but says that he notices some reduction of yield in the center rows. So he said that he was considering 4 feet.

Other than the beans grown on poles, I have ten 14 foot trellises spaced 3 feet apart. Not sure yet if that is enough spacing.

The poles are 8 foot chain link fense posts pounded in 18 inches. There are top and bottom #9 galvanized wires and then string up and down. The beans are currently wrapping around the top wire.

Here in the Seattle area it would be possible to grow broccoli before the beans shaded them too much.

There are several bush types that I still grow and in beds with spacing of 6 or 8 or 10 or 12 inches each way depending on the variety the yield can be similar to pole beans.

All the best on all your projects!

Jimster, at http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/legumes/msg0813085124057.html I have started a thread about beans that work well for both snaps and shellies. I would be interested in your comments. I will try to give you a clickable link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Best All Purpost bean


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

Thanks for posting that info, drloyd. I had not remembered zeedman and gardenlad talking about row spacing. They would know what works. I am encouraged. I looked over my trellis set-up carefully today and there is a decent amount of light penetration, at mid-day and with the vines not fully grown anyway.

I had read the Best All Purpose Bean thread but I can add very little. The number of varieties I've grown is small because I have very limited space and, because of trying to keep them from crossing, I haven't experienced many varieties. I learn from the others here when it comes to selecting varieties.

Two varieties I have grown may be of interest. They are Soissons Vert and Tarbais, two French pole beans. I have not used them at all three stages, however the linked site touts them as all purpose beans and I believe they could be. I've used Soissons Vert as a shelly and a dried bean with excellent results. Tarbais is a wonderful dry bean and I am willing to bet it is excellent as a shelly and probably good for snaps as well. I was fortunate to be introduced to these great beans (by zeedman in the case of Soissons Vert) early in my pole bean 'career'.

There are countless American beans of great interest, but I have to give credit the the French. They know their beans.

Jim

Here is a link that might be useful: French Beans


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

In the interest of searchability, I will copy my one relevant paragraph into the Best All Purpose Bean thread.

Jim


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

Interesting topic. This might be a little long, so my apologies. ;-)

Drloyd remembered the conversation between GL & myself correctly. He had recommended 4-foot spacing for pole beans. My trellises are over 6 feet tall, and shading was an issue.

For most of my pole beans, I grow a single row, so the spacing is irrelevant. But my main crop snaps & shellies are generally in a block of 5-6 rows. I had used 3 feet between rows for many years. Snap beans would produce well from all rows early in the season, then as the vines began to fill the trellis, the inner rows would taper off. Near the end of the season, the yield from the inner rows was confined mostly to the tops of the trellises. The effects of shading were even more apparent when I started growing large numbers of shellies... there would be far fewer pods in the lower half of the shaded rows.

Last year, although I hated losing the space, I opened up the rows in the block to 4-foot spacing. The result was a uniformly heavy yield from all rows for the entire season... so 4 feet it is. I still use 3 feet for yardlong beans, since their more open habit allows greater light penetration. That would be my answer to question #1.

2. Would anything planted in between get enough sun?

For trellises, probably not. Poles or teepees, maybe. But the shade is not necessarily a bad thing. In California, I planted tomatoes on the west side of a bean trellis. They were protected from the hot sun in the morning, which increased blossom set. I still often plant uncaged tomatoes in the shade of a bean trellis, they seem to thrive in the partial shade. The spreading tomato vines act as a living mulch, keeping the soil around the beans moist, and the beans prevent unwanted cross-pollination of the tomatoes. Pole beans make great barrier crops for seed saving.

3. How tall should the trellises be?

Jimster said it best - TALL. Most pole beans will take as much trellis as you give them, and still reach for more. However, if your heart is set on pole beans & your space is limited, you might crowd them intentionally, to reduce vine height. This is risky in wet climates, however, since it can promote the spread of disease.

4. Am I better off with bush beans for multiple rows?

That, I believe, is the real question... and there are several things to consider. Jimster summed it up nicely when he said: "Mathematically, 8 foot trellises at 8 foot spacing would equal 100% coverage by bush beans, everything else being equal. But everything else is not equal. I agree.

A single row of pole snap beans, on the North side of the garden, will equal the production of perhaps 2-3 equal rows of bush snaps, and do so over a longer period. However, this advantage is lessened when multiple rows are grown.

For shellies, the point is not so much relative yield, as it is quality - most of the best shell beans are pole varieties. There are exceptions; the search for good shellies (bush or pole) is my longest running garden project. I did find a great short-season bush shelly last year.

For dry beans, the difference is less defined. There are many great bush varieties, and relatively few pole types other than heirlooms. The pick-and-pick-again advantage of pole snaps is lost when the beans are allowed to mature on the vine. While I love several of the pole varieties (such as "Soissons Vert" and "Brita's Foot Long"), I think bush varieties hold the advantage for dry beans.

So it may come down to your planting scheme, how much space is available, and what type of bean you choose to grow. If most of your garden is low-growing, and you are concerned about shade, pole beans might not be the best choice. Ditto if your garden is in a windy location, or if you are a multi-season gardener & need to clear the space quickly to succession plant.

If you tend to grow other tall crops (staked tomatoes, tall bush squash, other trellised crops) then pole beans would grow well behind them. Pole beans are also well suited to areas where insects, critters, or soil-borne disease are problems for bush beans. Or maybe you just don't want to bend over when picking... but remember, you still need to erect the trellis. Not bad, if you only grow a row or two, but 300-400 feet of trellis (my average year) can really be a chore.

It also might come down to taste. Many dry bean recipes are designed for a specific variety, usually a bush. There are, for example, far more bush wax beans than there are pole wax beans. On the other hand, I have yet to find a bush bean with the 11" pods of "Fortex". If you want a big all-at-once harvest for canning, bush beans are best suited. If you want to eat fresh snaps over a long period, or just want beans that can earn bragging rights, you might prefer poles.

And last of all, the choice could come down to growing season. As a rule, pole varieties take longer to reach maturity than their bush counterparts, so there are more short-season varieties available as bush.

Man, my head hurts.

Disclaimer: nothing in this long-winded post should be construed as saying that anything is impossible in Zone 2A. ;-)


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

Zeedman, I love ya, lol! ;)

I think I'm going to redraw my plans with bush beans in the north-south rows, nudging everything a tad to the south so I can put some trellis on the north side running east west. I don't know if I'm ready yet to take the plunge with all my beans. I'll just have to train hubby to pick the bushes (he was a tad confused trying to help me pick this evening, lol). :)

Drloyd, I wish I had a memory as good as yours! Thanks for all your info as well! I should go off and read your link, too.


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

No apologies needed for your long-winded posts, zeedman. They are always packed with useful information and are most welcome. I will be reading through that latest one many times, digesting the many tidbits that apply to my gardening.

BTW, it slightly embarrasses me that you are so meticulous in always crediting me when you mention one of my minor contributions. You are very kind.

Jim


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

Credit where credit is due, Jimster. If this forum is a comfortable place to hang out, it's because it had a good architect. (tip o' the hat)

You know, there are such great people here; I can't even remember an argument occurring on this forum, unlike several others. Maybe beans promote peace & harmony... or maybe all the gas acts as a general anesthetic. Could give "wind of change" a whole new meaning. ;-)

Oops, drifted of topic...

By the way, I neglected to mention one other advantage of pole beans, one that I use a great deal. When grown on tall trellises, they make excellent windbreaks. I make a point of growing trellised common beans, runner beans, or yardlongs (along with bitter melon or tall corn) on at least the West & North sides of my garden, and often as walled "cells" within the garden. This creates a protected micro-climate in the center, especially in late Summer. Heat-loving crops like eggplant, okra, limas, winged bean, sweet potatoes, and water spinach thrive in this environment.

This ring of protection will usually sacrifice itself to protect the interior from the first frost of the season. If the frost comes again the next night, all bets are off.

I found that the tall trellises on the outside of the garden serve another purpose, one I had not originally intended. I use an electric fence to keep out critters, which works quite well. Deer could easily jump over it... but they will not do so if there is an obstruction on the other side. They can't get to the pole beans because of the fence, and they can't jump the fence because of the beans. It's a highly effective combination.


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

DANGER: Open flames or electrical sparks can be hazardous in the presence of methane. Ground yourself carefully and extinguish smoking materials when reading this forum.


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

I am scheming up next year's garden as I read about row spacing and solar orientation. It's never too late to learn. Thanks for the additional ideas, zeedman.

Jim


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

Macky, it is not just memory. Some time ago I started a Word document where I copy and paste interesting material on bean varieties and culture. There are many pages of helpful stuff from Gardenlad, Zeedman, Jimster, and others. That material on trellis spacing as well as how to build a trellis is from there.


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

With all the good information here I can't really add anthing new but I can echo several good points. I only grow pole beans and pole limas and occasionally yardlongs or another vining pea, so I have a lot of poles. I have 1800 7ft fiberglass rods and 1000 8ft bamboo poles. I use all the rods and about 1/3 to 1/2 of the bamboo a season. My rows are 4ft apart. I have a 42inch tiller attachment for my tractor that I can till down between the rows once before everything gets mulched with straw, making most everthing I plant 48inches apart. I plant my rows running east to west even though my garden slopes down from west to east as much as 15ft on the south end and 3ft on the north end. My gardening practices prevent any errosion and the benefit of having the sun shine between the rows is why I plant east to west. I have tried to plant a short season crop between the rows but it is not practical when they are side by side. The beans grow too quickly and even though side by side rows do fine the middles get too little sun to do anything, even weeds are spindly and I just mow them once or twice in the season. Another benefit is deer protection as Zeedman mentioned. My main garden plot is 145x300 with 125ft rows and room at the top and bottom to manuver around. I also have another 50x50 plot and a 25x30 plot. I grow alot of tall crops sorghum, old dent corns heirloom tomatoes the beans and peas. The long rows of poles or tomato cages make a fence barrier preventing deer from moving across the garden from north to south which is their normal path. Again the long high rows creat narrow tunnels that the deer will not go through, preventing movement from east to west. There is some benefit of the tall rows I found this year. I have a row of everbearing strawberries I planted two years ago. This year they are sandwiched between the corn and a row of sorghum both topping out at over 12ft. I thought it would shade out the strawberries but this year I am still picking berries because they get some sun but are keep cool therefore the relentless heat we have has been sheilded from them and they are still producing berries and look better than ever.
I don't always plant side by side rows. I actually prefer to skip two to four rows and plant melons or winter squash between and let the vines cover the area. I also start late field peas in the path next to a row of spring planted pole beans because shortly after the peas are up the beans are finished and the poles will be coming down so I wouldn't recommend side by side plantings. Again on the deer control I have a row of pole beans then say 8 rows of peanuts spaced three ft apart then a row of pole limas, then three rows of peas three foot apart then another row of poles then a 10ft wide watermelon patch another row of poles etc. all this creates tunnels that deter the deer and everthing gets good light. Right now the I have 7 rows of tomatoes with a row of cucumbers between each row. The cucumbers are finished and I will till it under and plant collards, cabbage, kale, etc inbetween the rowsin the next couple of weeks. By the time these are big enough to make it difficult to walk between the tomatoes are done and their cages are removed and that area is now the path and I will also plant narrow 2ft wide rows of lettuce turnips spinach etc. where the tomatoes were or oats or barley for grain or clover for covercrop
Conclusion if practical run rows east to west don't plant side by side poles, but can be done, and then can plant area between poles more effectively, take advantage of natural deer repelants. Why I plant pole varieties? more productive less bending over and I like heirloom varieties which are mostly pole and I like the look of long rows of poles. This turned out long but I hope I added something.


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

"...My main garden plot is 145x300 with 125ft rows and room at the top and bottom to manuver around. I also have another 50x50 plot and a 25x30 plot."

Wow!!!!!!!!!!! :-o

Rodger, I'm speechless... and you know how seldom that happens! You are living my dream.


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

"When grown on tall trellises, they make excellent windbreaks. I make a point of growing trellised common beans, runner beans, or yardlongs... on at least the West & North sides of my garden, and often as walled "cells" within the garden. This creates a protected micro-climate in the center, especially in late Summer."

Okay, that is the best tip I've read all week, maybe all month. I am totally doing that next year! Especially if I can save enough seed from these IWK. MAN those are good beans! But I'll need enough for several hundred feet to enclose all my growing grounds...


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

"I don't always plant side by side rows. I actually prefer to skip two to four rows and plant melons or winter squash between and let the vines cover the area."

Along this line, I have wondered about having a trellis of pole beans, a couple trellises of half runners, and another trellis of pole beans.


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

"Conclusion if practical run rows east to west..." Thank you Rodger for the helpful observations.

I have searched for information on trellis orientation and need to make a decision before I take mine down in the fall to increase the spacing to 4 feet. Also, I have just finished stump removal in a field that is about 150' by 200' and plan to increase my number of trellises.

People have written that "it is best to run trellises north and south so each side of each trellis gets sun for part of the day." But mine run north and south, and they each shade their neighbor for much of each day. The plants on the ends of the trellises look better than those in the centers. That is why the spacing needs to increase from 3 feet to 4.

If they run east to west, depending on the latitude, there might be less shading of nearby trellises even if only one side of each trellis gets direct sun. Or maybe morning sun would still shine on one side and afternoon sun the other. And possibly closer spacing could be used.

Anyone have more input on this?

Dick


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

"The spreading tomato vines act as a living mulch, keeping the soil around the beans moist, and the beans prevent unwanted cross-pollination of the tomatoes. Pole beans make great barrier crops for seed saving."

I'm really new, so that is why I don't get this. How do pole beans help? I want to save seeds from my tomatoes and all my plants. How do they serve as great barrier crops exactly?

~Angela


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

"How do they serve as great barrier crops exactly?"

Observe the movement of bees as they work. Follow one at a time to see the order in which they visit plants. They have a tendency to follow a row, especially if the row is taller than adjacent rows or if the row is at the edge of a patch. At least this is my understanding as of now. I watched some bees today. I need to do some more methodical observation.

If this is so, bees will stay within a variety until they change rows. If you can arrange your garden so they "wipe their feet" on an unrelated crop before visiting a crop which can be cross pollinated, seed purity is enhanced. Not guaranteed perhaps, but enhanced.

This is an interesting topic for experimentation. Large scale agricultural research doesn't give us much useful information for home garden seed saving.

Once again, I give a plug to Carol Deppe's book, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. As she says, seed saving is plant breeding.

Jim


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

Great explanation! Thanks for all the tips from everyone. This thread is great. I have learned so much.

I am still curious about north to south or east to west and more info on spacing....

~Angela


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

I too have been considering this issue for next year, and I have been greatly enlightened by all the wonderful ideas, and now have much food for thought, so to speak.

When it comes to spacing, I find it easier to see it, so I thought I would also share some pictures from a company that sells pole bean seeds (among others) and how they maximize their space. (That is the link at the bottom)

Another idea I have often seen is of bean teepees arranged in rows. The best I've seen of that is at:
http://bp2.blogger.com/_Tr6Vn2_V_yM/RuMKNxg-OfI/AAAAAAAAA8I/YIC3Pc0AsFw/s1600-h/08092007027.jpg

Another excellent site/page was JUST about bean supports ideas:
http://topveg.com/2007/07/11/bean-supports-poles-or-sticks/

Here is a link that might be useful: Victory Seed Company - bean growing and trellising


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RE: Spacing for multiple rows of trellised beans?

In case you missed it, be sure to look at the link provided by romanejo in the previous post. Despite being a Victory Seed Company customer (a very satisfied one) and having their catalog, it was only today I looked at that part of their site. It is GREAT!!!!

Jim


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