Plant for plant, in a given amount of space, runner beans can outyield bush varieties and are well worth the slight extra effort. Most of all, they need something substantial to climb on.
The simplest and most effective supporting structure is a tripod or quadripod of stout 8-foot poles, lashed securely at the point where they cross.
Position the poles about three feet apart for stability and to permit you to squeeze under the structure for picking pods, specialists recommend. Vines will usually grow to the top and cascade down.
Hinged A-frame racks are usually strung with twine secured to a bottom wire. They can be cleaned of vines for winter storage simply by snipping the vines and twine at top and bottom.
Erect tripods or frames before planting; sink the butts of poles about six inches deep. Plant four seeds at the base of each pole; at least half should sprout. If you plant seeds in a row, space them four inches apart.
One tripod of runner beans per family member should suffice, specialists say.
Scarlet Runner beans are both decorative and delicious. Pole limas come in baby lima, potato and speckled varieties.
Bush beans branch just above the ground and grow to a height of 12 to 16 inches, depending on soil fertility and moisture. No runners are formed; the pods are borne in clusters.
Modern bush bean varieties hold their pods well above the soil so that they do not rot in wet weather. Green and wax beans grow and look alike except for the color of the pods.
Plant a row of about six feet of bush beans per family member. If you pick bush beans twice weekly, you should harvest four to six pickings before the plants begin to decline. Therefore, make plantings every two to three weeks to maintain a steady supply of beans. Bush beans mature in about 55 days from planting.
Beans should not be planted until the soil is warm or the seeds may rot. Plant seeds of bush varieties about three inches apart. Fertilize and water only moderately. Pick before pods get lumpy and turn color.
In new gardens, beans perform better if seeds are coated with a culture of harmless soil bacteria that extract nitrogen from the air and make it available to the bean roots. You may find it at large garden centers or order it from seed catalogs.
In recent years bean breeders have produced many bush bean varieties that are resistant to discases that can cripple or kill bean plants. Look for varieties that are resistant to bean mosaic, a virus disease that can be transmitted by insects.
Bush lima beans grow slightly taller than bush snap bean varieties and spread wider. Short runners are occasionally seen. Pods are borne on fruiting stems that stick up above the foliage. Pick before pods begin to turn yellow.
Lima beans are very heat-resistant and should provide weekly harvests for 45 to 60 days. Plant about eight feet of row per family member. Lima beans will mature everywhere except in far northern and high-altitude gardens. Where summer days and nights are warm, bush lima beans will mature in 70 to 80 days.
Cover lima bean seeds one inch deep with sand to improve germination. Plant seeds about four inches apart; almost every other seed should sprout.
Q: Can Irish potatoes be kept the year around?
A: No way, except through refrigeration. Storage time can be lengthened by extreme care in harvesting. Do not skin or bruise. After digging, cure in a shady, well-ventilated place for two days before placing in storage. As an alternative to refrigeration, they can be stored for a time in a basement or covered in a similar, cool dark location.
Q: Our garden is small and we want to plant both pumpkins and summer and winter squash. Will we have trouble with them cross-pollinating?
A: They will cross-pollinate but it will not affect quality. But don't try to save the seed for next year. Never save squash or pumpkin seeds unless you have grown them in isolation.
Q: When my neighbor backs his car out of his garage in the morning, the exhaust is about 6 feet away from my azaleas for about a minute. Will it harm them?
A: An automobile engine can emit ethylene at concentrations of 1,000 ppm (parts per million) when idling and 10 ppm can cause injury. During operation, the gasoline engine emits carbon monoxide, partially burned and unburned hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, lead, and other compounds. What chance would an azalea have when getting regular treatments?