As its name suggests, bush beans are green beans produced by bushy, rounded bean plants that can only grow up to two feet.
Because they are easy to care for, they have been a mainstay in many vegetable gardens from all over.
What’s more, bush beans mature quickly and are not prone to pests and diseases.
When to harvest bush beans? Bush beans are ready to be picked right before the beans swell. Given the right growing conditions, you can expect this to occur in about 30 to 60 days after planting. They also have a short harvest time, producing all beans within one to two weeks.
How Do You Know When Your Bush Beans Are Ready to Harvest?
If you’ve tried growing other bean varieties before, you know that one of the most crucial parts is figuring out when to harvest.
The goal is to harvest them as soon as they are ready, as doing so will encourage your bean plants to produce even more beans.
So, how do you know when your bush beans are ready for picking?
About 40 to 60 days after planting bush beans is when you’ll start seeing signs that they are ready to harvest.
As such, it’s very important that you take note of when you planted them.
Another thing you can do is check if the beans are crisp, firm, and approximately three inches long. You’re better off discarding swollen beans, as they don’t taste well.
As mentioned, harvest time goes for about two weeks. Afterward, the plants will wilt and stop producing beans.
What Happens if You Don’t Harvest Bush Beans?
For the two weeks that the bush beans are ready for harvest, you need to pick them as often as possible.
Since the already mature beans will continue to take away energy from the plant, leaving them unpicked is not ideal.
If you harvest them as soon as they are ready, the plant will be able to use its energy to produce more beans.
Leaving the plant untouched and not harvesting the beans will result in the beans turning dry. It will also mean the plant won’t flower, so it won’t be able to produce more beans.
Not harvesting them well into the cool season is also not something you want to do.
These small, shrub-shaped plants cannot tolerate frost, so they won’t survive the winter. In some instances, some will start to die down as early as the first fall frost.
How to Harvest Bush Beans?
Regardless if you’re new to vegetable gardening or not, you’ll love growing bush beans. Not only are they easy to grow, but they also require very little care.
Gardeners from areas with short growing seasons will also find little to no issues planting bush beans.
You can even plant them close to each other, as they only grow two feet tall and two feet wide.
For this same reason, they don’t need support sticks or other kinds of support, too.
Bush beans prefer full sun and will thrive when planted in well-drained soil. That is, as long as you give them at least two to three inches of water each week.
You can also consider adding bean inoculants to enrich the soil with bacteria and help the bean plants become stronger.
The moment the beans start to grow, all they will need is little care from time to time.
Then, in as quickly as two months, the bush beans will be ready to harvest. Here’s how to do it properly:
Step 1: Look for ready-to-pick beans.
When it comes time to harvest bush beans, the first step is to survey the beans for the correct size.
Again, the correct size is three inches long. If you think they are still too small, give them a few more days to continue growing.
Then again, you don’t want the seeds to grow too big and plump, too, as that often means the beans have lost their flavor.
Step 2: Lift and pull gently.
Bush bean plants have lush foliage, so you might have to look underneath the leaf covers.
Once you’ve found ones that are the right size, you’ll want to lift the pod gently and pull it.
The goal is to hear a snap as you pull, as fresh bush bean pods should snap easily.
Pull each bean pod as gently as you can, as using too much force can make you pull the plant up accidentally.
Moreover, being gentle lessens the risk of harming and stressing the plant, encouraging it to grow more pods.
Should You Wash Bush Beans After Harvesting?
To preserve their freshness, we don’t advise washing bush beans if you are not yet ready to prepare them.
They are best served fresh, which is when they are at their most delicious and crisp state.
Those you don’t have use for yet can go in the fridge and will last for up to five days.
If you still have more to spare, try giving them away to neighbors, friends, and family.
You can also can or freeze them, which we’ll also talk about in a bit.
Can You Eat Bush Beans Immediately After Harvesting?
While it is true that some recipes call for raw bush beans, it is still best to avoid eating them without cooking them first.
Consuming raw bush beans can lead to diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and vomiting because of their high lectin content.
Anyway, cooking them improves their taste tenfold, so it’s more than worth doing. Plus, it also neutralizes their lectin content.
There are many ways you can consume these beans—be it by themselves as a snack, or added to salads, casseroles, and soups.
Here’s how to prepare them beforehand:
Bush beans are very easy to prepare, too, and one method is to just boil them.
In a large pot of boiling water, place a handful of your fresh bush beans and allow it to simmer.
After they’re cooked, drain the water and season the beans with salt and pepper.
Another way to prepare bush beans is to steam them. Again, you’ll need a large pot of boiling water for this.
This time, though, you have to place a steamer basket on top.
As soon as the water boils, you can then put the beans in. Make sure to lower the heat setting so that you can slow-cook the beans for two minutes.
If the first two prep techniques prove too time-consuming for you, you can also try microwaving bush beans.
To do this, find a microwave-safe bowl first and then place the beans in there.
Next, add 30ml of water and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Set the microwave to three minutes. Afterward, remove the plastic wrap and serve the beans (be careful with the hot steam).
How To Store Bush Beans?
The thing with bush beans is that they mature rather quickly. As such, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with too many beans.
Try as you might, it can be challenging to think of ways to use up these vegetables within a few weeks.
In that case, you’ll want to learn how to store them for later use.
- Bush beans should be stored in a cool, moist place. Your fridge’s crisper drawer should be the perfect storage.
- Do not just toss bush beans into the fridge. Instead, put them in a perforated plastic bag to allow air to flow and keep the pods dry. Storing beans this way can keep the beans fresh for eight to 12 days.
For a larger bean harvest, blanching and freezing is the best storage route to take. After all, this technique will preserve the freshness of your beans for a longer period.
Step 1: Blanching Bush Beans
Like most other vegetables, bush beans should be blanched before freezing to prevent enzyme actions that diminish flavor, texture, and color.
To blanch bush beans, start boiling a gallon of water in a big enough pot.
You’ll have an easier time blanching them if you have a wire basket that can fit in the same pot.
Do this for three minutes and then remove the beans and dip them in ice water immediately.
Blanching correctly will preserve the bush beans’ crispness and flavor.
Step 2: Freezing Bush Beans
Now, on to freeze the beans. For this, you’ll need freezer bags, plastic wrap, and cookie sheets.
To prevent the beans from sticking together, lay them in one layer on a cookie sheet.
After this, use plastic wrap to cover the beans and then freeze them solid.
Once they are solid, that’s when you can go ahead and put them into the freezer bags.
Fill the bags close to full and ensure that excess air is squeezed out before putting them in your freezer.
Is growing bush beans worth it?
Bush beans have been a staple in many gardens around the world, and it is easy to see why.
For one, these vegetables carry a lot of nutrients, vitamin K and vitamin C, for example.
They are also low in calories and contain low amounts of sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
Bush beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps control cholesterol and sugar levels.
The list of nutritional benefits of bush beans is just endless.
Even then, you’ll be surprised that the most fun parts are when the little bean sprouts emerge from the soil and when you hear the snaps as you pick each pea pod.