Victory Seeds®

Rare, Open-pollinated & Heirloom Garden Seeds


Victory Heirloom Seed Company - Preserving the future, one seed at a time!

 "Preserving the future,
one seed at a time." ™

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Bean Growing & Trellising On Our Farm:

Examples From Our Gardens

[ Pole-type String Beans ] [ Bush-type Snap Beans ] [ Lima Beans ]
[ Pole-type Dry Beans ] [ Bush-type Dry Beans ] [ Fava Beans ]
[ Preparation Info ] [ Main Bean Page ]

Click on any of the thumbnail images for a larger version.  Although optimized for the Web, some may take up to 60 seconds with a 28.8 baud modem.

Growing Information:  Most commonly cultivated beans (Phaseolus) have an American heritage. The origin of the plant lies somewhere near Guatemala but migration throughout North and South America had occurred before Europeans arrived. In fact, beans were almost as universally cultivated as maize by the native people.

Beans prefer rich soil in a sunny location. Make sure that you keep them watered deeply in the heat of the summer.  Soaking is preferred to using overhead sprinklers.

Don’t bother trying to get an early start with beans – you’ll waste a lot of seed!  Beans are fairly fragile and you should not sow them until all frost danger has passed and the soil remains above 65ºF.

In the words of the botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey, "No vegetable seed decays quicker than beans, and the delay caused by waiting for the ground to become warm and free from excessive moisture will be more than made up by the rapidity of growth when finally they are planted."

Plant seeds 1½ inches deep, every two to three inches in rows twenty four inches apart.  Cultivate frequently and shallow until flowers appear. After they begin to flower, be careful not to disturb the roots as it can cause the blossoms to drop.

Bush-type beans will require little or no support while climbing varieties will require some structure.  See below for trellising ideas.

Harvest fresh green, snap beans when the have reached a desirable pod size.  At this young stage they are tender and tasty.  Do not wait too long as they become fibrous and stringy.  A ten-foot row of pole beans should provide the average family of three or four with fresh beans about twice a week through the season.

It should be noted that  heat and water stress can be detrimental to beans.  Temperatures over 95F can cause blossoms to drop (abort) which reduces production.  Both heat and water stress will increase fiber production and cause the pods to become stringy and woody.  Keep your plants well watered.

If you are raising dry beans, it is always best to allow them to remain on the plant until the pods are brittle and snap open easily. However, if you live in an area with a shorter growing season, harvest as close to dry as you can and finish drying indoors.  Freezing temperatures and rain will damage the beans.

[ Click here for basic seed saving tips ]

The methods of supporting pole or runner beans is limited only by your imagination.  The ideas and images presented here are of methods that we use, or have used, here on the farm.  Some are best suited for larger scale production, others are wonderfully suited for a smaller garden plot.

Row Trellising Systems

This first method is the one that we employed here for many, many decades.  It was basically the way that all of the commercial bean farmers raised beans here in the Willamette Valley until bush-type varieties and mechanical harvesters took over.

Production Scale Bean Trellising - Close Up
June 20, 2002

In the northern portion of the Willamette Valley where we are located, snap bean production was a major part of the agricultural economy of the past.

In my father's childhood in the 1940s and 1950s, spending summers picking berries and beans was the major source of income for many school kids.

Beans in August - Ready to Eat!
August 11, 2002

The beans produced were almost exclusively pole-type varieties grown of trellising systems similar to the one illustrated in these photographs.

The system is simple but time consuming to erect and remove every spring and fall.  One note, these poles are 8eight footers.  Using ten foot poles would be beneficial.

Production Scale Bean Trellising
June 20, 2002

Currently, commercial bean production is now comprised of bush-type (determinate) varieties and mechanical harvesting equipment.  This shifts the expense of the trellising and dependence on an army of pickers to the picking machine and a smaller crew.

All Grown Up!
August 11, 2002

Since our work is with the preservation of heirloom and old varieties and not snap bean production, we still are very interested in pole beans.  They are still very valid home garden types as they produce over a longer period and typically take less space.

We therefore use the string trellising method for larger scale growing. This is accomplished by using eight or ten foot steel t-posts on the ends of the rows with wire stretched between them at the top and bottom.  Additional t-posts are used in between the end poles to help support the wires as necessary.  Heavy string or twine is laced between the top and bottom wires.  The beans then wrap themselves around the string as they grow upwards.

We use biodegradable, natural fiber twine.  This is removed with the expended vines in the late fall after we harvest the seeds.  Wires and pole are removed and stored, a cover crop planted, and the system is installed in a different location the following year.

Although this methods has its roots in the commercial bean fields of the past, it is quite easily adapted to the home garden.  The poles, wire and twine are available at farm, garden and home supply stores and the poles and wire will last for years.

Update July, 2011 - Based on the same premise of the above model, we began using horticultural or crop netting in place of the sisal twine.  This saves us both money and many hours of time effectively allowing up to expand the amount of beans that we can grow.  Below is an informational video on how we install the system.


Swing Set Trellis

Recycling is part of a responsible lifestyle.  Our garden, as part of our lives, is the perfect place in which to practice recycling.  Additionally, it provides a structure for the kids to hide in as well as making harvest time easy.

The following photographs are of a common site in our garden.  Instead of recycling the metal frame of our old swing set, we reused it as a very sturdy trellising structure for our 'Scarlet Runner' bean crop.

A wire was strung around the bottom of the structure and twine laced as in the row trellising system above.  It is the equivalent of twenty row feet.



7/14/99 7/21/99 - Open End 7/21/99 7/21/99 - 'Scarlet Runner' Blossoms on the 'Swing set'





7/30/99 - You can almost see them grow!

7/30/99 - Notice the 'Giant Grey Stripe' sunflowers? That is 'Green Sprouting Calabrese' broccoli in the bed just before the bean house.

7/30/99 - Same view angle but at a further distance.  The bed closet to the viewer is of 'Roma II' and the next bed contains 'Blue Lake 274'.

Finished Product.
You can read more about the 'Scarlet Runner' by clicking here.

GardenShot82299.jpg (195800 bytes) bean_Swingset_Nov99.jpg

8/22/99 - Similar to our 7/30/99 shot but a bit more mature.  You can really see how pretty the 'Giant Grey Stripe' sunflowers are in blossom. You can also compare the 'Scarlet Runner' blossoms in the pictures.

This is what it looks like the second week of November after a good hard frost.  Time to put the garden to bed for the winter.
I can't wait until spring!

Fun in the Garden - Build a "Bean House"

The following images are of our "Bean House".  It is shown first with the facade attached to the core structure of PVC pipe.  The additional  photos are of the beans as they progressed through the growing season.




7/14/99 - Here you see the facade and trellis structure before stringing.  Beans are just coming up.

7/30/99 - We ended up helping the bean house by adding a brace board and anchoring it to the "swing set".

8/17/99 - This variety happens to be 'Kentucky Wonder'.

9/6/99 - Notice the added support on the face of the house.  The structure ends up bearing a lot of weight.  Don't skimp on the schedule of PVC pipe you use.  It will collapse.

Canned Garden Beans

click for details

Finished Goods!

Mike loves this recipe.
"Chile Dilly Beans" (pickled green beans)
Click picture for the recipe.

The main part of the facade is made from a piece of 1/2" exterior plywood.  The "beams" were created by screwing 1/2" x 3" scrap fir and cedar.  The "wattle and daub" effect by using FixAll brand plaster. The plaster and the beams were left to weather naturally.  The other portions were stained dark brown.  There is a hinged door cut out of the plywood that allows kids to play inside and access to pick when the time comes.

This type of "structure" helps to create spaces that invites people into the garden.  The idea is to have fun and create positive memories.  This is one of the best ways to ensure that gardening is passed on to the next generation.

We use this during the summer gardening season and store it in a barn over winter.


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