How to grow beans: Dry / Bush Beans farming guide for beginners from planting to harvest


Learning how to grow green beans or dry beans from seed is not hard. Just a few simple steps and you’ll be eating fresh green beans in no time. There are several varieties of green beans that can be grown on the homestead or in the backyard vegetable garden.

The dry bean is an important field crop because of its high protein content and dietary benefits. The maximum temperature during the flowering period should not exceed 30° C as high temperatures will cause flower drop and thus low pod set, resulting in depressed yields.

Fortunately, it’s not necessary to start seeds indoors when you grow green beans or dry beans. They prefer to be planted directly into garden soil since they don’t transplant well, although soaking the beans first for 24 hours will help speed up germination by two to three days.


All beans can be grouped into one of two categories depending on how they grow. Beans can be eaten in the young, green pod stage, called snap beans, or in the mature dry stage called dry beans. These terms can be used to describe any variety or species of bean.

The first type of green bean is a bush bean. Bush beans are shorter beans that only grow to be about 2-feet in height.

However, they don’t require any trellises because if planted correctly they basically stretch out and lean on one another for support. Also, bush beans have many popular varieties such as Sugar beans which are closely related to pinto beans, Contender, Blue Lake, Provider, and Tendergreen.

The second type of bean is pole beans. Now, these beans grow to be about 8-10-feet in height. Even so, these beans certainly need a trellis because of how tall they grow. However, most people grow these beans on teepees. They are obviously going to be much easier to harvest because they grow so tall, and they also are great producers as well. The varieties of these beans available are Butter beans, Rattlesnake, Fortex, and Kentucky Wonder. There are several other species of beans, including runner beans, lima beans, cowpeas, and soybeans.

The bottom line is what you are going to learn in this tutorial is going to work on any type of beans that you are going to grow. Although varieties and species are different, the growing concept remains the same across the beans farming world. In this tutorial you will learn how to do land preparation before beans, how to plant bean seeds, whether to use previously harvested beans or buy new seeds from the store, how to fertilize the beans using compost or animal manure or how much synthetic fertilizer to use if you don't have organic manure, how to irrigate your beans plants, when to harvest and diseases and pests to watch out for.

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Beans grow best in full sun, planted in well-drained and warm soil. Prepare soil ahead of time. When planting, add a mature or aged compost and this should be all the fertilizer you need if your are starting with a healthy soil.


A clever technique to boost growth is to create a compost trench. Dig out a trench about a foot (30cm) deep where your beans are to grow. Fill it up with animal manure, personally I use chicken manure when growing beans and your beans will thrive as you will see in this tutorial.

Where animal manure is not available, synthetic fertilizers can be used, but personally I don't use store fertilizers at all at my homestead. Whatever I grow, I always use chicken manure, duck manure or rabbit droppings. However, pig manure, goat manure or even compost will also help you get a good harvest if you decide to do away with synthetic fertilizers.

Beans produce nitrogen so it is important not to use too much fertilizer. Sugar beans should be planted in well-drained soil as they are sensitive to acid soils. Bean growers are advised to plant fresh seed from farmers’ markets, although dry seed is fine provided it is not too old.

A rate of 250kg per hectare of Compound D fertilizer drilled in with the planter, or broadcast with a Vicon before the final discing before planting your dry beans or sugar beans. Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) at 250kg per hectare as a top dressing just prior to flowering will help with pod set. If a previous crops residue has been ploughed or disced in, then extra nitrogen will be needed to help composting or breaking down of the material. If you are going to use orgaginc manure, then you don't need any synthetic fertilizers throughout the season.

Beans will do best with a soil PH of 5,5 – 5,8. Beans are very sensitive to acidic soils. If the pH is not at these levels then apply lime as per the soil sample recommendations. Soil temperatures need to be at least 60-70°F. If not, germination will be slower. Another way to speed germination of seeds is to wait until soil is at least 70°F. Green beans and dry beans are not frost tolerant. So they need to be planted after threat of frost has passed. As this is an international tutorial, I will not name the specific months to plant beans since they vary from one country to another, depending on when they have their winter. However, the bottom line is plant your beans anytime between 14-28 days before the last frost date and 80-133 days before the first frost date.

Sow beans where they are to grow, against their supports or, for bush types, four to six inches (10-15cm) apart with 18 inches (45cm) spacing between rows. Bush beans should be planted in linear rows to support each other. Use a hoe to scratch out rows or dig individual planting holes with a trowel. Drop in two to three seeds per hole, so they fall about an inch (2cm) apart, and are one to two inches (2.5cm to 5cm) deep.

You can build bamboo trellises for pole beans before planting the seeds. If your home is barricaded with fence, you can plant your pole beans or butter beans next to the fence, so that you use the fence as a trellising system for the beans. Garden spacing is the same whether growing for seed or to eat.

Growing pole beans gives you the advantage of maximizing your space, and the beans grow straighter and are easier to pick. Bush-type bean plants need no support, require little care, and can be picked whenever you are ready to cook or freeze them. They typically produce an earlier crop too, so successive plantings may be necessary for a continual harvest.


Water in the morning so the plants can dry rapidly and avoid fungal disease. Water moderately to ½-inch of water per week, avoid watering the plant tops.

Beans require a minimum of 400mm to 500mm rain fall during its growing season but totals of 600mm to 650mm is considered ideal. Irrigation is also required where the crop is growing before or after the rainy season. however, the best time to grow beans is just before the rains have started. In most African countries, they plant beans and maize or corn together, so that's when it rains the maize helps protect bean flowers from being destroyed by heavy rain drops.

The critical growth stage requiring rainfall or irrigation is during flowering and pod set. Irrigation should stop when roughly 25 percent of the bean pods have turned yellow.

When flowering starts, that is the time to apply top dressing fertilizer Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) at a rate of 250kg per hectare. If you use animal manure or compost or any other organic manure, then you don't need to apply top dressing at this stage, but if you add extra manure to your beans you would have done extremely well, and they will reward you with more flowers and a subsequent better harvest.

Continue watering your beans 2 to 3 times a week.

Any weeds that do peek through should be removed by hand to avoid disturbing the bean plant’s roots. Give the weeds to your ducks or backyard chickens. Weeds and garden waste are ducks' favourite food.


Beans can be harvested in the snap/green stage, the shelling stage, or the dry stage. Snap or green beans are ready for harvest when the pods are still tender, before the seeds start to swell. Shelling beans are ready for harvest after the pod has changed color and the beans have plumped, but before the pods and seeds have dried. Dry beans are ready for harvest when the pods are dry and brittle and the seeds inside are hard.

Beans can be stored dry for months or years. They last in the refrigerator for about a week.


Common Problems beans farmers face include: Bean weevil, stem nematodes, downy mildew, leaf and pod spot, chocolate spot, black bean aphid, bean seed beetle, bean rust, sclerotinia, cutworms, white mold and mosaic viruses. Most fungal diseases can be prevented or treated if spotted early by simply applying Neem oil or copper oxychloride. Apply once in two weeks or when necessary. For cutworms, white grubs that eat your beans roots and other pests, apply lambda twice a month or when necessary.

Common beans can be affected by a number of diseases. Some of these diseases can remain in the soil for several years, so grow your beans in different areas of the garden each year. To prevent the spread of fungal and bacterial diseases among plants, avoid working in your bean patch when the foliage is wet. The best way to get rid of beetles and bugs that might eat the leaves of your plants is to pick them off and toss them into a jar of soapy water.

If you see a white film on the leaves, pull them off and throw them away. Dilute one part powdered milk in nine parts water and spray plants once a week. This neutralises the infection at the early stages and prevents further infestation.

Diseases such as rust, angular leaf spot, anthracnose and viral diseases should be kept under check with fungicides such as neem oil and copper oxychlorfide or mancozeb. The farmer should constantly check for pests such as bean fly maggot, aphids, thrips and bollworms.

Towards the end of the season it’s worth leaving a few pods of open-pollinated or heirloom varieties to dry out on the plant. Shell the dried pods then bring the beans inside to dry further in an airy location. Store the beans in paper envelopes, labeled with the variety and date, then use them for next year’s crop.


After harvesting your beans, plant your cabbages on the same field, as beans leave a lot of nitrogen in the soil and that nitrogen will help you harvest healthy and big cabbages.