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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Summer Good Time to Plant Green Beans for Fall Crop

LAS CRUCES -- Planting green beans in midsummer can replenish soil and produce a tasty fall crop.

Unlike spring-planted spinach and leaf lettuce, which take a lot out of the soil, green beans make their own soil building nitrogen.

"Legumes like green beans produce their own nitrogen from nitrogen in the air," said George Dickerson, horticulture specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "Rhizobium bacteria in nodules on the roots convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form used by the plant."

In gardens where green beans have never been grown, the seed should be inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria before planting. Most nurseries or major vegetable seed catalogs carry small bags of the powdered bacteria. The bacteria should be dusted on the seed before planting. Once a properly treated crop of green beans is grown, the nitrogen-forming bacteria will remain in the soil and benefit future crops.

Beans should be planted one to two inches deep and two to six inches apart with rows 18 to 36 inches wide. Beans should be harvested before the seed begins to swell, making the pods bulge. Keeping Beans picked will also ensure that the plants keep producing.

"There are a number of good green bean varieties on the market," said Dickerson. "I prefer Bush Blue Lake 274 because it's so reliable. Other great varieties include Green Sleeves, Contender, Tendercrop and Topcrop."