Friday, June 10, 2011

Modified Intensive Gardening Combined With Succession Planting of Our Pole Beans.

In a previous post I explained how I was planting my pole bean seeds this year in a different manner than usual for our garden. Rather than plant a single row of seed, on April 30th  I planted a double row with about a six inch space between rows. That was the modified intensive gardening approach. Theoretically, I should at least double the amount of my harvest from last year.

The weeds got a big jump on me this year between the bean rows, but I took care of them in the last couple of days. Thankfully they are a type of weed with big leaves and spindly stalks, so I was able to dispose of them by weeding three rows each day for two days.

I was unable to perform the second planting until June 9th. I planted the second batch of bean seeds in that six inch space between the first double row planting. When they germinate I am anticipating that they will readily follow the outer sets of vines and go right to the fence fabric and begin their climb. As of this writing, I have 1,440 Fortex green bean seeds in some state of growth in our garden, with additional seed to go in when the time is right. I actually calculate the number of beans needed per row, count them out in a small bowl, then put each row's allotment into an individual zip lock bag.  When I'm hand sowing, I use up each bag for each row, thereby ensuring adequate spacing of the seeds. It might seem tedious, but it sure takes the guesswork out of it.

I've included some pics to show the condition and density of the bean vines. They look very healthy.

These are my six 20 foot rows of Fortex pole beans. They are 40 days old and growing very vigorously. I water them almost every day since there are so many of them. Our high temperature here yesterday was 102 degrees, so the soil was very dry on top. That temperature was confirmed on three different thermometers in three locations. We already had another day where the temperature hit 101 degrees and it's only early June. I hope that's not an indication of what summer will be like.

Notice the density of the vines thanks to the double row planting.

Last year, I planted four single rows of seed and let them run their cycle, and when they were through producing, I planted more beans. The trouble with doing it that way is that my harvest totals had to endure going through the phases of a dwindling production period, then the germination period and  then waiting for plant maturity. The end result for the year was simply two total harvests from four 20 foot long rows of pole beans.

This year I added two more rows of beans. I began with the double row planting and then 40 days later planted a second crop that will be germinating and maturing while the first crop is producing green beans. That equates to overall production from three rows of pole beans. When the second planting is approaching maturity (in approximately 40 days on July 20th) I'll plant additional seeds for the third planting. Since we began with a double row, the July 20th planting would be the equivalent of the fourth planting of rows of pole beans. There will be plenty of time for still another planting on September 1st, which should be ready to begin harvesting on November 1st, as it is usually still warm at that time. That would be the fifth planting of rows of pole beans for the year. Overall, doing it this way has the potential of harvesting two and a half times as much in the same area as last year, not including the two additional rows of this year. This is possible since the "wait time" for germination between crops is eliminated and three additional crops are planted as compared to previous years. Historical data from my spreadsheets show the following harvests of Fortex green beans:

2009 spring crop - 58 pounds
2009 summer crop - 32 pounds
2009 fall crop - 22.25 pounds
2009 Total Fortex Green Bean Crop - 112.25 pounds

2010 spring crop - 21.5 pounds
2010 summer crop - 38 pounds
2010 fall crop - None. I was away from home and didn't get the third crop planted.
2010 Total Fortex Green Bean Crop - 59.5 pounds

During this entire time I will be adding cured compost to the rows as it becomes ready. This whole thing is like a long experiment. We'll see what the results are later in the year.

Now for a few more bean pics...

Notice how even when the vines get to the top of the fence material they keep reaching upwards.

It always surprises me when the vines go up so far looking for something to grab on to. They really want to stretch out there! If I don't take each one and braid it into the fence fabric it will cross over to the next row. It's a wonder that they don't break in the wind.

The tops of these vines are reaching towards the east. Could it be possible that they are stretching toward the morning sun?

The blossoms are getting ready to open up. The vines are covered with them, so I hope I'll be getting a good crop.

Notice all the vines reaching up past the top of the fence fabric. Even though the planting is dense, all the vines appear to be very healthy. They must really like the composted soil.

That concludes my post on the modified intensive gardening and succession planting of our pole beans. I hope you found it interesting and informative. It will be interesting to see what the results are in my end of the year Harvest Report.

I extend a sincere "Thank You" to each person reading this and hope that it will inspire someone to try new methods for growing vegetables for your family food supply. Think about it. Maybe that someone is you!

Have a great gardening day!
Veggie PAK


  1. Wow, looks like you are going to have some SERIOUS bean production. This is an interesting approach to intensive planting. I bet the quality of your compost will also be a boost to your overall production.

  2. .09 Acres, that's what I'm hoping for! Towards the end of the whole process I'm going to let the beans dry on the vines so I can save the seed. The 2,000 seeds I bought for this year cost me $65, which isn't particularly cheap.

    Thanks for visiting and sharing a comment.
    Veggie PAK

  3. Interesting production method. I hope you really like eating beans, Veggie Pak, or else you have a big freezer! Do you grow all that lot simply for your own consumption, or do you sell some of the produce?

  4. Mark Willis, I can my own produce and I think it's better than a freezer since I don't have to worry about power outages. My family really does like the beans the way I can them. I'm asked on a regular basis if I sell my produce and the answer is no. I grow food for the functionality and fun of it. I also enjoy teaching my grandchildren how to garden. Then there is the vulnerability of the food distribution system. Since the food stores only stock what's on the shelves, I like to be prepared.

    As far as selling it, if I did, it would simply turn into a job, and I'm blessed to be retired. No more jobs for me!

  5. I guess you like beans!

  6. Sizanne, that would be a big "Yes". Lots of ways to cook them and they taste very good.

  7. I only have snap besns in a 7' double row. I obviously don't like beans nearly as much as you do. I have to save some of mine too. I'm starting to run out of Kentucky Wonder seeds. I don't do three sowings though. I have time for one and that is it. I plant them in May and get beans until early September usually when our weather cools down.

  8. Daphne, If you're going to save some of yours, why not plant some within your existing row so when they mature you can use those for seeds and still have a nice crop for eating. Try some of that succession planting I've been reading about. You might get a nice boost to your seed supply.

  9. Holy beans! If my mother was reading this, she would be salivating all over her computer. She's crazy for the stuff and always needs to have at least 10 cans in the pantry.

    I had been planning on canning some of the beans I grew this year for her and was just going to do a second planting after the first set was done producing. I didn't even think to stagger my planting dates in order to continue production without having a lull. I will definitely be trying that this year!

  10. Prarie Cat, go for it and see how it turns out. I'll bet you'll be very happy with it. Depending on when you would be doing your second planting, you may even get a third. Be sure to keep track of it on a calendar so you'll have the info to study for next year too.
    Happy Gardening!

  11. That is a really efficient planting of pole beans and I am positive you will see the increased yields you are anticipating. I cannot imagine using all those beans for one family's use but it sounds like you know what your family needs and have planted accordingly.

  12. Clever approach to beans. And the early plantings should seed the later plantings with lots of nitrogen fixing bacteria. I've wondered just how high a pole bean will go if given the support.

  13. kitsapFG, The harvest has begun with 8 1/2 pounds of green beans! There's one "family", but it's in four households at different addresses.

    gardenvariety-hoosier, my fence is six feet high, but the bean vines are about four feet longer than that. That's why I have to go out and braid them into the fence fabric from time to time. So, I'd say 10 feet high, easy!

    Thanks for visiting and sharing comments!
    Veggie PAK

  14. DJP
    I just planted this variety this year as my bean crop was eaten last year by a groundhog and that was the end of my saved seeds.... I use much longer poles so that the crop at the top is out of my reach and thus is my seed for next year. Wow, those plants looks great.
    Take a look at www.vegetablegardendjp.blogspotcom

  15. DJP, Sounds like the groundhog needs to be paid a visit by the Terminator! They can really destroy a lot of work!

    The plants are very happy with everything right now. I hope they stay that way!

    Thanks for visiting, and I'll check yours out as well!
    Veggie PAK