Green beans refer to the young and unripe fruits of the common bean, which includes several different cultivars.
You probably know this warm-season plant by its many other names, such as string beans, snap beans or snaps, and French beans.
Requiring little to no maintenance, it is one of the easiest crops to grow in a home garden.
When to harvest green beans? Depending on the variety, green beans will be the right size for harvest in about 45 to 60 days after planting. The goal is to start harvesting when they are still immature to achieve the right flavor and crispiness. Harvest in the morning to ensure you seal in its sweetness.
How Do You Know When Your Green Beans Are Ready to Harvest?
There are several ways to tell if green beans are ready for picking.
If you love adding it to your diet, you can probably tell when it’s ready. However, to give beginner growers a better idea, we’ll list the features to watch out for.
Bush beans and pole beans are two of the most common green beans that home gardeners grow.
While they have different growing times, both like warm weather and will thrive even with just regular watering and no fertilizer.
That said, bush beans grow faster and will be ready for picking in about 50 to 60 days after planting. As for pole beans, you will have to wait 60 to 90 days to start harvesting.
What you need to put an eye out for are the little beans growing at the base of the plant’s fertilized flowers.
These young bean pods will occur roughly two months after seeing seedlings grow out of the ground, assuming you planted them at the right time.
The Size of the Pods
Roughly speaking, you will know green beans are ready for harvest when the pods are already four to seven inches long.
You might also notice it being as thick as a pencil, but the seeds inside should not be bulging.
Days After Planting
Like any plant, how fast your green beans grow will depend on the variety you are trying to grow.
Some grow quicker than others, so it’s a good idea to check the seed packet to know exactly when you can expect a harvest.
Generally, there should be little bean pods growing on each plant in about two months after the seedlings sprout from the ground.
Around this time, you will want to check your green bean plants every single day to see if they are ready. You can then refer to our other tips to figure out the best time for harvest.
In addition to the size of the pods, check for their firmness too. The pod must be tender and plump, but the seeds shouldn’t be sticking out.
You can check if they are ready by trying to harvest one. The pods should snap off easily from the stem, making harvest even more hassle-free.
What Happens if You Don’t Harvest Green Beans?
What we like about growing green beans is that they will continue producing new pods for weeks after you harvested the first batch.
In fact, picking green beans regularly will encourage the plant to grow more pods.
That said, what will happen if you don’t harvest them soon? What if you leave mature green bean pods on the plant?
Growing green beans is easy, but this plant is very particular when it comes to harvest times.
Leaving it on the plant even for a few days after it’s ready to be picked is not a good idea. You will most likely end up with coarse, tough, stringy, and woody pods.
If you don’t want this to happen, we advise harvesting green beans every two days if you want them sweet and tender.
For larger and meatier green beans, you can harvest every four to five days.
Drying Green Beans
Basically, what happens when you don’t harvest regularly is that the plant will focus on growing the seeds inside instead of growing new ones.
The seeds mature in about one to two weeks, and the pods will turn a pale green or white color.
If you wait a little longer, the pods will darken and become dry and brittle, to the point where you can shake the seeds inside and hear them rattle.
And, yes, that’s how you dry green beans—either for eating or replanting.
That said, if you’re doing this with your end goal being to replant, make sure you pick which bean plant to allow to seed.
Because the plant’s characteristics are stored in its seeds, pick ones that produce green bean pods in the size, color, and flavor that you like.
It must also be generally healthy, with no insect infestations or diseases, to guarantee the best quality seeds.
How To Harvest Green Beans?
Harvesting green beans are easy and won’t require special tools or skills. However, it doesn’t mean you can just go ahead and pick the first pod you see.
The best way to know that you’re doing it correctly is to learn from those who already have experience with growing green beans.
To help you out, here’s how we pick our green beans for fresh eating:
Step 1: Look for pods in their immature stage.
Again, you will want to look for bean pods that are firm to the touch but have no individual seeds bulging out.
You can expect this about two weeks after its flowers bloom. Around this time, the pods will easily snap off, leaving no damage to the stem.
Don’t wait too long to start harvesting, as the seeds will become fully developed and hard.
Step 2: Harvest every other day.
Harvest only bean pods that are the right length, width, and firmness and leave those still need additional days to mature.
Then, come back after a day or two to check on and harvest more bean pods.
As mentioned, harvesting regularly and frequently will encourage the plant to produce more pods for weeks.
That’s because, instead of focusing its energy on ripening the seeds, it will be forced to grow more bean pods.
This way, you will have plenty of green beans throughout the growing season, maybe enough to give away some to neighbors and friends.
Step 3: Remove the string from each pod.
While doing this is a personal choice, you might find that it tastes better when the string is removed.
Some also prefer snapping off the pointy ends, mainly for aesthetic purposes.
After removing these unwanted parts, you will want to put the beans in a bowl of water to rinse off dirt and debris.
Remember to do this only if you’re about to cook them.
Step 4: Cook or store in the fridge.
Freshly harvested green beans can last anywhere from four to seven days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container.
For long-term storage, you can also freeze green beans, extending their life for up to three to six months.
Some even pickle or can green beans for even longer storage.
Should You Wash Green Beans After Harvesting?
Like with any product, green beans need a thorough rinse before cooking. What to do with it after harvesting is a whole different story.
For freshly picked green beans, you can leave them on the kitchen counter without washing, and they will remain good enough to eat for about a day or two.
If you want to store them for longer than that, wash them first before drying and putting them in an airtight container.
You can also snap off the ends and remove the strings before putting them in the fridge.
Can You Eat Green Beans Immediately After Harvesting?
Yes, it’s okay to eat green beans you just harvested from your garden. However, you have to make sure you wash and cook it first.
We don’t advise eating raw green beans. They have a high lectin content and can cause bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when eaten uncooked.
Besides, cooking not only lowers the lectin content but also improves its sweet flavor.
To eat green beans, you can simply steam them, stir-fry them, or add them to soups, giving your dishes color and texture.
If you harvested a yield too big for your family to consume, you could also pickle green beans.
Kept in a cool, dry room, canned or pickled green beans can last up to one year. However, you have to eat it all up within two weeks once you’ve opened it.
The best thing about adding green beans to your and your family’s diet is that they are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients.
Green beans have a good amount of calcium to support strong bones, as well as folate to help the body produce more red blood cells.
Now, imagine eating organic green beans freshly picked from your own backyard garden. Not only will it taste better but will also be healthier.
Harvesting green beans are as easy as snapping off the pods from the stem.
When done at the right time, it will snap off easily without damaging the plant. In turn, the bean plant will produce even more pods.