Transplanting Green Beans

maryhmApril 2, 2008

I am completely new to gardening, so please forgive me for any dumb questions. I started a bunch of vegetables in those Jiffy Peat Pellets. My green beans are now 6" high and I want to move them to 4" pots, where they'll stay in the greenhouse until I can put them into the ground in another month. Problem is, I put 3 seeds per pellet, not expecting them all to germinate, but they did. The instructions say to thin the plants to only one, but the roots are really intertwined and I don't want to kill them. Is it ok to have 3 plants in the same hole in the ground (eventually), or do I have to thin them. If I have to thin them, what's the best way to get them out of the pellets without harming the roots?

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It's definitely OK to have 3 plants in one planting hole. I always do about 3 beans in each cell when I sow them in flats in my greenhouse, and these are usually either 48's or 72's, so they're not big cells. They do just fine when crowded -- you'll get plenty of green beans.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 3:32PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Beans are better handled with minimum disturbance of the root ball. They often sulk and do poorly if uprooted and moved too. Just plant the group of seedlings. You might space each group a few inches further apart to compensate for crowding within the group.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:11PM
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First of all, green beans are normally planted direct in the garden. You will have a problem with harvest with three in one spot. My guess is that in one month before going in the ground that many won't survive. One plant 6 inches apart is good spacing for easier harvest.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 6:16AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I plant green beans in double rows about 4 inches apart. Beans about 2 inches apart in the row. Starting beans inside is a lot of extra work for not much return.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 6:43AM
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sowbusy7nc(Z7 NC)

You probably will need to go to 4" containers with your beans but before you repot check to see if there is a plastic net around your Jiffy pellet. Carefully remove it before you transplant. If you decide to thin any beans do not bother the root ball just snip off the bean at the soil line with sissors. I always start my beans in 3 cell plastic containers in the greenhouse and this has worked out very well for me

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 8:52AM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

I nearly always start bush and pole beans in 72- or 98-cell trays. In my soils there are too many seed-eating critters above and below the soil surface. I've lost as much a 75% of direct seeded beans and corn, for example.

Small bush beans get planted 3-4 inches apart in row and rows 18-24 inches apart. Runner and pole beans are spotted 6 inches apart under a trellis or 3 plants per pole.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 10:22AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

For bush beans, transplants don't really make sense, unless you have a very short/temperamental season. The yield doesn't justify the effort. Bush snaps generally mature very quickly, and will do better direct-seeded.

However, pole snaps (and pole beans in general) are well worth starting as transplants. Since they tend to be later & bear for a long season, they benefit from the early start. The yield per plant is also much higher than bush beans, so a few transplants can give you a lot of bang for the buck.

I grow a lot of heirloom pole beans; and like Marshallz, have found that transplants overcome most of the disease & germination issues that can hinder direct-seeded plantings. Each year, I start about 25-30 beans of various species in Jiffy strips or peat pots. When there is a small amount of seed to start with, it's the only way to (nearly) guarantee success.

But even transplants can only gain so much; and if started too early, or allowed to become root-bound, the plants will become stunted or die. Mary, if you still have a month to go, and want to save your beans, I would definitely recommend potting up to larger containers. Even then, you may not be happy with the results. Personally, I think you would be better off planting bush beans directly in the garden when the soil has warmed... and saving your greenhouse space for growing really big tomato transplants. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 12:02AM
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Still have snow on the ground????

All too true that bush snap beans aren't usually transplanted. But, they can be with moderate success if handled properly. For future seasons, tho, don't start so early. You'd really want them about 5-6" tall when ready to go outside. That means if you plant outdoors May 30, you probably don't need to start before April 30. Might also suggest that when you transplant, also make a direct seeding at the same time. You can then compare how the transplanted and direct seeded planting produce.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 6:03PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

If you are working with bush beans, you may get a few beans right in the green house if you transplant to 4 inch containers. Check the average days to harvest for your variety, and remember that plants may mature faster in a warm environment, with restricted roots.

Once I was directed to monitor plants in an experiment on foliar uptake of minerals in green beans. The plants were in rather small containers, in pure vermiculite. They were grown in a warehouse with very low light. I had objections to the experimental design, but was just a peon following directions. The plants were spindly, but I was surprised to get a few green beans even in that bleak environment (for plants). You may do a little better than I did, as I imagine that you will at least be planting in potting soil. and will have better light.

I agree with other comments that you will probably want to start a new set of seeds later for the garden, either to transplant while young or direct-seeded in the garden. Corn seed maggots are a problem for some people with rich soil (sometimes eating every seed before it emerges) and I have problems with birds pecking at the plants just as they emerge. But I still usually direct-seed bush beans. In our heavy soil, I use a dibble and cover the seeds with potting soil (containing inoculant), to give the sprouts a fighting chance at lifting those big seed leaves above ground level. Placing two or three seeds in the same hole can help break up crusty soil, too, if you have that problem.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 1:24AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

If I am going to start large seeds like beans, squash, melons or cucumbers indoors, I like these Root Trainers, though they are pretty expensive if you have a lot of seeds to start. The roots grow straight down in these units, which are open at the bottom They are reusable, but you can't be real rough with them.

I generally plant out very early (the cucurbits before they get true leaves), so my seeds generally only spend about a week in the unit (over heat) before going into the garden. I then start the next set of seeds. I have pole beans started now, and am putting the unit outdoors during the day, just until the plants start to look like plants rather than like beans on toothpicks as appetizers for crows.

Park sells the same root trainers in a different frame (which I don't like as well, as it sometimes comes unhooked) for a little less money. It fits in their "Bio Dome" frame, though, if you're through starting your tomatoes.

The Thompson and Morgan version has a lid which you can put under the unit when filliing with soil, bottom watering, etc. I am leery of their 64 cell model, as I think it would be unwieldy to work with.

Some people in the UK substitute the carboard tubes from toilet paper rolls for these root trainers, crowding them into a tray for stability.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 2:05AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Getting late. Forgot the link to the post above.

Here is a link that might be useful: root trainers

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 2:43AM
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anney(Georgia 8)


I've wished that the Jiffy-Pot people would manufacture peat rolls, like the cardboard insides of TP rolls, in different diameters and heights, open at the top and bottom. I thought seriously about buying some root trainers -- maybe it was you I discussed this with last year -- but I just couldn't afford them when I would have had to buy them.

I use open-bottomed newspaper cylinders to start plants that should be kept separate. They are certainly flimsy but I prop them against each other in containers under the lights and then handle them carefully when it's time to set the plants out. The plants suffer no shock at all, even if the roots have grown out of the bottoms.

Peat cylinders would be more stable and less trouble since you wouldn't have to make them!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 7:27AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

I bought one from Park a few years ago. Since then, I have sprung for two 32-cell units from T&M twice, when they have sent me discount offers (if you buy something from them, eventually you'll probably get a $10.00 discount offer if you buy $35.00 worth of stuff, generally late in the planting season). So I have five units now, and dealing with 160 plants at a time is about my limit. The clear lids on the oldest set from T&M are getting brittle from UV exposure, but otherwise, they're still in pretty good shape. I never use the lids as lids now unless I plant some seed which must be surface-sown. And then, putting the Park version in the Bio-Dome frame makes more sense, as it can be vented.

I read a post somewhere about someone using envelopes from their junk mail to make cylinders, fastening them with mailing tape. I think some kind of open-ended plastic cylinder would probably also work, even slick plastic pipe. You could just slip the plant out at transplanting time. A square design might even be better, as it would limit circling of roots.

I like the design of the root trainers, though. The little grooves help train the roots down, and the open bottom air-prunes the roots so they don't get tangled. I've got three units full of beans, cukes, melons, crotolaria (for nematode control) and squash now and will transplant the beans tomorrow. They spend nights in the shed on a heat mat (with no tray), and stay in the shed full-time until they sprout. Tuesday, I'll probably plant three units, then re-use them for more planting the following week. In fall, they can be used again, since our soil is so hot in August that it makes direct-sowing difficult. Over a few years, I'll probably get my money's worth.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 10:29PM
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