Pole Bean Planting Tips

Vertical A frame support

Vertical A-frame supportPole beans are heavy producers for the relatively small area of garden space they require.

Choose a spot in full sun, loosen the soil to a depth of 1 foot, and add a 4-inch layer of aged compost or organic soil amendment—but not manure (beans produce their own nitrogen).

Plant 5 seeds around the base of 8-foot poles. Space the poles 3 feet apart. Set each seed 1 inch deep with the eye or scar facing down. If your garden is in a windy spot, create a tripod—three poles, buried at the bottom and crossed half to two-thirds from the top (for easy harvesting).

Water deeply after sowing beans; you won’t need to water again until the seedlings emerge—unless the soil dries out. Once the plants emerge keep the soil moist and protect seedlings from birds and snails.

When plants are 3 to 4 inches tall thin to the strongest three on each pole. Help each seedlings begin to wind around the pole.

Pole beans will be ready for harvest 10 to 11 weeks after sowing. Beans are ready for picking and the tastiest when the seeds swell and just become visible in the pod. Pick beans consistently to keep your crop producing. Pole beans will keep producing until they are knocked back by frost.

Beans—like other members of the legume family—return nitrogen to soil. You can follow your bean crop with broccoli or corn, both are heavy nitrogen users.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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