Planting Guide and Seed Saving Notes for Pole Beans

Pole Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Pole beans are a space saving wonder for the compact garden. The long vines take advantage of vertical space and have a continual harvest throughout the growing season so they have higher yields per square foot than bush beans. For many people, the flavor is beyond compare as well. 

Nutrients: vitamins A, C, and K, folic acid, potassium, iron, fiber.

How to grow Pole Beans from Seed

Bed Preparation

Beans are frost sensitive annuals that prefer full sun and rich, well-drained soil. To lessen the chances of disease and pests, alternate the location of bean plantings with a different crop each year.


Beans should be direct seeded since they do not transplant well. Plant beans outdoors once the danger of frost has passed and soil temperatures are above 50˚ F. Sow seeds 1" deep and 2-4” apart. Seeds will sprout in 8-16 days. Pole bean will need trellising.


Harvest pole beans in 60-80 days.

How to Save Pole Bean Seeds

Bean flowers are perfect, self-pollinating and quite beautiful. They also almost never cross-pollinate, making beans an easy and satisfying seed to save. When planning to save bean seed, maintain at least 20 feet between varieties, and be careful planting two white seeded varieties side-by-side, if you intend to save seed, because crossing may occur but not be visible. It is always best to save seed from plants that are free from disease; this will ensure healthy genetics. Allow seedpods to dry on the plant and harvest when the seeds rattle inside. If you have a very wet fall, you can pull up the entire plant roots and all, and allow the beans to finish ripening and drying on the vine hanging somewhere dry and with good circulation. To get the best germination and longest shelf life of your seeds, you'll want to separate the seed from the dry pods. This prevents disease from setting in, and eliminates places for bugs to hide. The best way to do this is by winnowing your beans. You can do this by hand, but it will take a long time if you have many beans to clean. To clean a lot of seed, crush your very dry beans in a cloth or burlap sack and winnow the seeds from the chaff. This is best done outside, and by pouring your crushed beans from one bucket into another in front of a box fan or on a very windy day. The heavy beans will fall into the second bucket, while the dry chaff will blow away. Repeat the process until completely clean, which will likely take 3 or 4 rounds of winnowing.


What's A Greasy Bean?

An Appalachian favorite, Greasy Beans can be considered an acquired taste because of their long maturing time leaves them full and meaty, much different than most Americans prefer their string beans. Greasy beans are called "greasy" because they are smooth in texture and lack the peach fuzz that many green beans have. In many regions, it is said that Greasy Beans saved many lives during the great depression, and during other times of hardship when more common sources of protein like meat and eggs were too expensive for daily or even weekly consumption. Greasy beans were grown large and fat, allowing the beans to form fully in the pods to develop into an excellent source of protein, and then cooked for a long time with onions and a bit on animal fat if you had it. Delicious, wholesome, and an economical source of protein, these beans deserve a place in everyone's garden!