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How to Grow Pole Beans

Pole beans offer great use of vertical space since they climb up poles, trellises or homemade teepees.

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pole beans offer great use of vertical space

Step 1: Prepare the Site for the Pole Bean Teepees

Locate the teepees where they won't shade other plants that need full sun. They should be placed on a well-draining site and near a water source. Till and amend the soil according to the recommendations of a soil test. Rake smooth.

Step 2: Separate Poles into the Three Groups

Divide the 1" x 2" x 6' cedar poles into groups of four to make three teepees. The poles should be one to two inches in diameter with a rough surface. The rough surface makes it easier for the beans to climb the poles. As an alternative to cedar poles, teepee-style supports can be found at your local garden center, and bamboo poles or saplings lashed together make easy, inexpensive supports as well. Avoid using chicken wire or fencing with wire mesh as your supports. Horizontal wires cause the vines to wind around each other and choke plants.

construct cedar pole teepees for pole beans

Step 3: Place the Poles in the Garden Bed

Measure 12" from the end of the garden bed and place the first and second poles 3' across from each other. Then measure 3' from each of these two poles and place the third and fourth poles. Next move to the other end of the bed and repeat the same steps for the second teepee. For the third teepee, center it between the first two.

Step 4: Tie the Ends of the Poles Together

At each teepee, pull the four poles together, overlapping their ends about 8" to form a cone. Using twine, tightly lash the poles together where they intersect.

pull 3 poles together to form a cone teepee

Step 5: Sow Pole Bean Seeds

Sow five to six seeds around each pole, about six to eight inches away from the base of the teepee. This is more seed than is needed for each pole, but it allows the opportunity to thin out the weaker plants after the seeds have germinated. Cover the seeds with an inch of soil and lightly tamp the soil.

plant seeds around the base of the teepee

Step 6: Water Seeds

Lightly mist the dry soil with a garden hose or watering can. As these vegetables grow from seeds to seedlings, their water requirements will change. Pole beans require little care, except regular weeding and supplemental watering in dry weather. Bean plants need about an inch of water per week. Water plants in the morning to allow foliage time to dry out before night falls.

Tip: As the pole beans grow, periodically weave stray vines around the poles of the teepee. This trains plants to grow upward, not outward.

Step 7: Fertilize Plants

Pole beans mature in 60 to 90 days. Beans are light feeders and do not need extra fertilization as long as you plant them in an organically rich soil. Fertilize young bean plants with an organic fertilizer, such as fish emulsion, every two weeks for the first six weeks and then once every three to four weeks.

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