South Florida Gardening

April 18, 2020 Update re 2020 spring-to-summer growing green beans in South Florida: Since this is by far my most popular post, and many people are now venturing into gardening for the first time due to our virus lockdowns, here is some discussion on the timing of plantings. We planted a new full crop of green bush beans about five weeks ago and they’re bearing nicely! (They get a little shade from the mid-afternoon sun; beans do need lots of sun.) We put in another crop last weekend and they’re doing great so far, time in our growing heat will tell – making sure they get enough water as it’s dry now.You might be able to plant some if you do it VERY soon (like now) – you might not get a second crop due to the heat but it’s worth a shot for one crop. Planting much later than now will  probably just be too hot. Plant them in October and then again and again through winter and spring! Now, you could definitely plant lima beans at this time (along with many other heat-tolerant crops) if any of those interest you – see UF/IFAS Guide to Summer Vegetables. Happy gardening!

June, 2020 Update re: the experiment with beans mentioned above – i.e. the ones planted in March and mid-April. The first one yielded two full crops of beans, the yellow ones were especially prolific! The second one (April’s planting) gave us an incredible first crop – pleasantly surprising. But just a bit of a second crop, which were over and done with the first weekend in June. They just couldn’t take the heat and stopped producing except for a few misshapen and stubby (inedible) beans. So the moral of the story is, please don’t try to grow green beans in the heat of our South Florida summer. We were very lucky to get so much out of those spring plantings but now must wait til mid/late October to start some again. Here is our final picking:

Pile of green and yellow bush beans

Lovely harvest – late May/early June

And lastly, the beans we loved from this season are:

  • “Affirmed” Bush Beans – from Johnny’s Seeds – terrific green beans
  • Golden Rocky Snap Beans – from Turtle Tree Seed – fantastic yellow beans, let them get long and fully yellow
  • Provider Snap Beans – also from Turtle Tree Seed – very good green bush bean, very productive

And now for the original post: 

Green beans are one of our staple crops throughout the fall-winter-spring growing season here in South Florida. We usually (if we’re lucky) have our first harvest at Thanksgiving time, and our last in late April to mid-May, depending on how soon the heat of summer begins to roll in.

 

For favorite recipes using fresh green beans from our garden, please see our posts Green Beans with Mustard-Tarragon Dressing – Simple & Delicious and  A Fresh Take on Three Bean Salad

There are many advantages/benefits to growing green beans in South Florida:

  • They are just so well suited to our climate, thriving well in the moderate temperatures our growing season offers. It’s also easy to grow them organically as they suffer from few pests or diseases. Our biggest problem comes from rusting leaves when there’s too much moisture/rain and our remedy is to remove those leaves and adjust moisture when possible.
  • They are a fast growing crop, from planting them to bean-producing – typically ready to start harvesting in five weeks or so.
  • The bean plants will render two crops. After picking the first round, watch for them to reflower and produce more.
  • Beans help the soil by adding nitrogen to it. This will benefit certain nitrogen-loving plants, such as cabbages and tomatoes, which as part of our crop rotation will be planted next in the same soil.

The preference among our gardeners is pretty much bush beans over pole beans (though we do plant both). There is a variety of purple bush beans that we’ve been enjoying in addition to our typical green ones. But here’s a warning: the purple ones turn a vibrant green color when cooked. I only found this out on Thanksgiving one year. I was so excited as this was our first harvest ever of purple beans, just in time for the holiday! – and I thought I was going to have a beautiful mixed colored dish of fresh green and purple beans. Until, that is, I lifted the lid off the pot of steaming beans. They were a beautiful green color, much to my amazement and disappointment!

Basket of fresh purple bush beans

Purple bush beans

We use the direct seeding method and straight rows for growing green beans. (They are not suited for starting in flats and transplanting.) We sometimes use an organic inoculant that boosts the nitrogen-fixing capacity of the plants.

UPDATE: We no longer plant the green beans in rows; we now use the square foot gardening method and Wow, the amount of beans we are getting in the same amount of space is unbelievable! Please see our post on Square Foot Gardening if this interests you.

Row ob beans seeds planted in a furrow

Planting bean seeds

It’s such a pleasure to plant beans as the seeds are quite big (easy and fast to plant), they germinate so reliably here, and it’s very exciting to see them sprouting in just a few days – and then really take off, heading for a fairly quick harvest time – about five or six weeks from planting to eating!

Green beans growing

Green bean seedlings

Green beans are delicious steamed to a slightly crispy perfection and dressed with a little butter, salt and pepper – and maybe some dill. There are many delicious recipes using green beans, including the two posted above.

Growing green beans in South Florida is so effortless and rewarding; if you’ve never tried it, we hope you will!

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