Favorite Varieties: Jade and Blue Lake for bush and Kentucky Wonder for pole.
Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables to grow. They are pretty reliable, relatively pest free and everyone likes them. Of all the vegetables, I think green beans are the one with the fewest detractors. Lots of people hate spinach or broccoli, but I’ve never heard anybody say, “ugh I can’t stand green beans.”
Another reason I like growing green beans is you can get in at least two good crops in the midwest. You can plant one in the spring and harvest in June or you can plant in the summer and harvest in the fall. I have harvested beans all the way up until Halloween.
There are times when they fail, however. In 2011 we were unable to produce more than a few shriveled beans due to the extreme summer heat. The summer crop had lots of blooms but only a few produced small pods and the fall crop would not germinate and thrive in the intense summer heat. So in summers with extreme heat beans may let you down.
In the Midwest we haven’t had any serious problems with pests. Rabbits will eat the young plants but can be discouraged with fencing. We don’t use pesticides so some of the later crop cans have dark spots or holes from grasshoppers and worms but the first beans are usually very nice in appearance and excellent for canning.
My favorite varieties are Blue Lake and Jade for bush beans. Both are stringless hybrid varieties and yield in about 60 days. They will continue to produce for up to a month or so. During drought and hot weather our best yields have come from fall gardens. The photo below shows three pounds of Jade variety beans that were picked on June 27, 2012 from seeds that were sowed in late April. For pole beans, Kentucky Wonder is the old stand-by variety and yields pretty well in Kansas. Kentucky Wonder is also an heirloom variety from which the seeds can be saved, unlike the hybrids.