When do you plant beans?

leira(6 MA)April 6, 2012

I was always taught that you'd better not plant beans too early, or they might rot in the ground. I've even had this happen to me. I wasn't planning to plant beans until after the last frost date.

BUT...today I found some volunteer beans sprouting in the garden. The average last frost date is still a month away, and recent nights have been at or near freezing.

So...am I totally wrong?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There will be no advantage to them sprouting so early. I plant starting in the last week of May, or a very early batch in mid-May.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 6:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My planting calendar says to directly sow in the middle of May.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 6:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I think your volunteers were just fooled by the warm weather. I found some that have since disappeared in subsequent freezes. Sorry little guys, it isn't summer yet...

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 7:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
leira(6 MA)

I dunno, pnbrown...you wanna tell them that? :-)

Sunnibel7, the thing is, there hasn't been any warm weather, not for a few weeks. It's been in the 40s or occasionally in the 50s during the day, and night temps have been fluctuating between high 20s and maybe 40 or so, but usually in the low-to-mid 30s.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 7:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think the proof will be in the pudding - see if you are eating beans earlier from the volunteers. I'd bet not, or if so there will be a huge sac in yield.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 7:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
leira(6 MA)

I will report back, pnbrown!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have one volunteer bean in the garden, but will not plant beans until 4/16/2012.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 2:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I stick a thermometer in the soil of my raised bed and plant when the temp reaches 60 degrees. Always works.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I plant my beans now right about now. They are in the ground by April 15th which is our last frost date. I have never had a problem with my beans and they grow fantastic every year. I plan to put down my bean seeds tomorrow as the long range forecast is now showing lows of around 50 degrees.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Agreed, monitoring soil temp at several inches below the surface would be a reliable method. Going by a certain date throughout a given hardiness zone is not reliable.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I`m getting a soil thermometer this year. I am tired of replanting.

That said though, it does seem funny that so many things like cukes, pumpkin, tomatoes, and pepper seeds will last in a compost pile, handle being tilled into the garden, take heavy rain, being stepped on, and still germinate and grow. Last year, tomatoes were my worst weed. I kept pulling them til my gf insisted that I leave a few. They produced ok even though i didn`t fuss over them.

And the leftover seeds taken care of in their packages lose gemination percentages every year :/

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

The folk wisdom rule is that you plant beans when you can sit on the ground without you butt feeling cold. In my experience, if the ground is too cool they just sit there. It doesn't do any good to plant before the ground is warm enough.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 9:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Leira, I've planted them beans before after it was warm, then a cold front came and killed them. This happened 3 times a couple of years ago. Best to wait.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 4:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Ditto on waiting. If the soil is too cool and/or wet, beans will generally rot, and those that come up will be few & far between. It's better to wait until the soil is warm & fairly dry, and get a better stand the first time. That being said... if you don't mind replanting & have the seed to do so, there's nothing lost by trying an early planting.

The average last frost is a good target date for beans, but soil temperature is more reliable. That's especially true the last few years here, where cool weather or periods of heavy rainfall often delay planting.

I'm still LMAO about the "butt test" for soil temperature. The funniest thing is, it just might work. It could test for optimal soil moisture as well... if you sink in, it's probably too wet. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 6:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
leira(6 MA)

Well, pnbrown, I promised I'd report back, so here goes.

The volunteers are much taller than the ones planted at the normal time, and are already blooming. The normally-planted ones are nowhere near blooming yet. The blooms I see are scarlet runners.

I didn't count then number of volunteers I had, but my sense is that they didn't all make it. The ones that did make it, however, have a definite leg up on their brethren, however.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 8:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I'm not surprised that the volunteers did well. I had several bush long beans volunteer last year, and since one of them was near to where they would be planted again, I let it grow. The volunteer was noticeably more vigorous than the ones I planted, flowered earlier, and produced twice as much seed as any of the other plants.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 1:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Volunteer vigor is a well-known phenomenon to me in general, but I have not experienced it much or at all with beans, as the seed rarely if ever overwinters in my gardens. The seed seems to degrade such that they rarely sprout. I wonder what happened in your case that a goodly number did? Lengthy snow cover, maybe?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 6:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is why people are so enthusiastic about "winter sowing". I have had volunteer tomatoes and cucumbers, but they are seeds from my compost, not from last years plants. I am pulling them.

Here is a link that might be useful: WinterSowing

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 7:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
leira(6 MA)

Well, pnbrown, I'm is Massachusetts, too...so no snow cover at all this year, oddly. I guess that means it wasn't very damp, so maybe that helped.

I forgot to add that around the time I found the volunteers, I grabbed some additional seeds that I found on the ground or on the vines, and pushed them into the ground, but they didn't come up until the same time as the ones I'd planted normally.

My guess from this is that the lack of snow meant the seeds didn't sit around cold and damp, and the unusually warm Spring provided some ideal germination conditions early on, which weren't repeated until the more normal time.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 7:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I suspect that in my climate beans planted a couple inches deep in december would overwinter in some percentage. Based on your report I reckon I'll try it.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 7:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
leira(6 MA)

Well, pnbrown, I really don't know. It might have been a fluke. There were certainly times in my childhood where we jumped the gun on planting beans, and not a single one came up -- I assume because beans don't like to sit in the cold and damp.

If you have spare seed, I suppose it doesn't hurt to try. I wouldn't hold my breath, though. I think the luck of the draw gave me a perfect set of conditions that might not be repeated.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 8:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can echo leira's experience from this year. I left a lot of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. in my beds over the winter to self-compost in place. This resulted in hundreds of volunteers, but mostly tomatoes.(Some beans came up on their own, but some beans I also pushed into the ground when I found them.)

I live in a dry climate, so I also agree the success of this might have to do with the wet factor.

I cannot compare the size of the plants well; the beans are different kinds with different growth rates. The volunteer beans that have access to lots of light are growing well and flowering, but so are the beans I planted later. I even have a bean coming up from a gravel walkway that I haven't watered once (the gravel was put down in the spring, over some dirt that was a compost spot.) If it was strong enough to grow thru 6 inches of gravel, it deserves a chance... :)

My volunteer tomatoes are much smaller than the direct planted ones, but the plants are extremely healthy and also flowering.

My volunteer cucumbers are outpacing the ones I direct-seeded....

So, I will probably leave some old fruit in place again this year. :)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 10:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't think any of us can count on getting the same results in more "normal" years on many garden issues. The weather this year has just been so peculiar. Hot, cold, wet, dry. Michigan had 90's in March, freezes in April, 90s in May, a frost/freeze warming for the norther 2/3rds of the state a few nights ago, and back to 90s now for the next week. Last year was our wettest year on record, and this spring saw localized flooding in parts of SE and central Michigan. Where I am in center Oakland County it is now very dry, unirrigated lawns are now straw colored, and our lakes have dropped about a foot due to evaporation.

The only thing certain seems to be uncertainty.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 10:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The trouble with volunteers is that they don't follow the program. They come up where they please, in some spot already designated for another crop.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 11:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
leira(6 MA)

Here's the next installment of the ongoing saga of the volunteer beans. I got my first bean (overgrown, sadly, because I was on vacation, and it was hidden). It appears to be a cross between an Italian flat-podded variety and a purple-podded variety -- it was flat and purple...or purple-ish, at least.

I can't tell you how it tasted, because the 2-year old said she really really wanted to eat it, then decided she didn't like it, and shoved it into a puddle of mud. I think. In any case, I never saw it again.

If that vine remains healthy and produces flat purple-podded beans this Summer, I may try to save some seeds and de-hybridize them into something stable. That would be fun!

As for volunteers in general, this is the first time in quite a while that I'm not growing out some volunteer tomatoes. I've grown out volunteer tomatoes for the last few years, with great results. I kept some chocolate cherry tomatoes going for years, just by luck, and also Romas, and one time I got a big, boxy, meaty tomato that was pretty cool.

I usually let some volunteer squashes go, too -- I've had Italian vining zucchini, baby blue hubbard, delicata, buttercup, and some sort of pebbly thing that grew in the barrel of rabbit manure.

Last year some broccoli of unknown variety (a Home Depot $1.88-per-6-pack special) went to seed, and I let some of the volunteers grow where they came up. Some of them are starting to produce heads, later than the ones I started indoors and transplanted, but we'll see how it goes. I had some volunteer lettuce this year, too, and I've let some of those go to seed again.

I'm a sucker for a volunteer!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I grew out some seed this year that I harvested from an f1 sugar-snap type hybrid last year, as a cover crop, and they are podding now. It's pretty interesting to see the range of types produced: a few are in fact fat sugar-snap type pods, some have filled out early like shell-type, most are still flat un-impressive looking pods, similar to the ones on dwarf grey sugar.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
leira(6 MA)

So, pnbrown, will you eat the pods? Will you save and grow out any of your favorites?

You also bring up another thing I've been wondering about, which is how to actually use cover crops here in New England. I'm guessing from what you're saying that the answer is to give one segment of the garden a break while growing a cover crop. This is hard for me, because I'm anxious to use every square inch of space.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 10:09PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
what varieties of watermelons are you growing?
what varieties of watermelons are you growing?
FRUSTRATED in the California High Desert
I have been trying to grow a garden in the desert for...
Planting Oca in Tubs?
Has anyone done this with any success? How big a tub...
aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada
Do eggplants have high yield?
I'm going to grow one. Thinking of growing two. Do...
nibbler of artichokes and broccoli
Hi, All, I recently moved from NJ to CA and am faced...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™