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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Avoid Transplanting Beans into the Garden

Collar rot on been planted in cold soils
Q. I just read your recent article regarding pole beans. I am not having much luck with them. I planted seeds (Kentucky and Blue Lake) the last week of February in my green house and then transplanted to raised bed the first week of April. The vines have grown like weeds and are very lush, but there are no beans. There are blossoms, but I do not see much bee activity. Any suggestions for next year?

A. Usually beans are not transplanted. The roots of beans are somewhat fragile and they will not transplant easily. Normally they are direct seeded into the garden as soon as soil temperatures are warm enough in the spring or, when temperatures are cool enough in the early fall.
We have a long growing season so we can get both a spring and fall crop here. When soil temperatures are warm enough for germination usually are air temperatures are also warm enough for good growth and fruit set by the time they get larger.
Growing them in the greenhouse and putting them out in the garden may be a bit early for them to be productive and they might get damaged. For beans to set fruit it's best if air temperatures do not drop the low 55° F at night.
In a warm microclimate, South or West facing and protected from wind, you could probably plant in February. If you are in a normal microclimate then delay planting until March. If we get cold
air temperatures the flowers will drop off without setting.

Likewise, when we plant beans too late in the spring, they will struggle to produce beans at temperatures above 90° F.
Try pole beans again this fall but plant the seed in the middle to latter part of July at about a 1 inch planting depth. This will give them some time to get up in size and begin flowering when we start entering cooler temperatures of late summer and early fall.
Beans struggling with growth in the row because of collar rot
Soils warm early if they are loose and in full sun. We keep the soils loose by adding compost to improve the aeration of the soil, or the amount and size of airspaces between soil particles. A good starter fertilizer for beans will be high in phosphorus and lower nitrogen.
Another factor that can affect production in a garden is wind. If the garden area is in a windy location this may affect production particularly of those vegetables that rely on pollination through the air or by insects.

I realize you were trying to get an early start on them by germinating them in the greenhouse but putting them into cold garden soils can create a problem with root diseases, particularly collar rot and root rot diseases.

If you want some early germination in the spring, I would suggest adding compost first and then warming the soil with strips of clear plastic about 18 inches wide for a week before planting. Cut slits in the plastic after one week and plant directly into the warm soil without removing the plastic.

1 comment:

  1. That last paragraph is a great suggestion on getting a early start. Thanks!