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Pole Beans vs. Bush Beans

August 18th, 2012

This week, I’ve been reading Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space. I do a fair amount of vertical gardening here at Chiot’s Run because I like the structure that vertical features bring to the garden. They also take up less space, a very important thing when you’re short on garden space for all the things you want to grow.

On Tuesday I read that pole beans outproduce bush beans and decided to see if this was true. Luckily, I have both pole beans and bush beans growing in the garden. The pole beans are growing on a teepee in the lower garden and the bush beans are growing in a row beside the asparagus. I have about the same number of each, perhaps more bush beans than pole beans. The pole beans were planted a week or two after the bush beans.

After harvesting both types of beans, I weighed my harvest. The bush beans produced 11 ounces and the pole beans produced 1 pound 6 ounces. (pole bean harvest on right, bush bean harvest on left).

The nice thing about pole beans is that they produce continually over a longer period of time than bush beans, they will be producing until frost. The bush beans are just starting to bloom for a second time and will probably fade soon after I harvest this batch of beans

I also prefer pole beans to bush beans because they’re easier to pick. The beans are easier to spot and higher since the vines grow vertically.

I always love learning little bits of information like this. Even though I will have more garden space next year, I’ll still be trying to maximize that space in any way that I can. There’s just something about pole beans scrambling up a trellis in the garden.

Do you grow bush beans or pole beans?

26 Comments to “Pole Beans vs. Bush Beans”
  1. Joan on August 18, 2012 at 6:01 am

    I like pole beans MUCH better than bush beans. More yield, longer harvest time, and most important of all, much better taste. My absolute favorites are Rattlesnake and Fortex. Rattlesnake has a beautiful purple stripe and tastes wonderful. Fortex isn’t as pretty (plain green) but tastes delicious, and best of all you can pick the beans when they are huge – they taste good even if they’re a foot long. This means that you don’t have to pick every day or two – you can wait a week and pick a huge batch to freeze all at once.

    Reply to Joan's comment

  2. Jandra on August 18, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Usually I sow some bush beans for an extra early harvest because they are quicker to produce. But pole beans are my favorite!

    Reply to Jandra's comment

  3. Victoria on August 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I didn’t grow any beans this year….and I really missed out. It looked like my CSA would be bean-heavy but not so much. Next year beans will play a prominent role in the garden!

    Reply to Victoria's comment

  4. Rhonda on August 18, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I’ve always grown pole beans instead of bush. The only reason being I like they way they look in the garden. However … Last years beans were decimated by critters and this year they were eaten just as soon as they sprouted from the ground. I’ve got some Ky Wonder seeds in the ground right now to try and get a late crop. They’re surrounded by hardware cloth so the resident critters don’t get them. We’ll see what happens.

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  5. Mich on August 18, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I grow both pole and bush beans.
    Tend to grow 3 varieties for a big row of pole beans and then I follow on with bush beans as easier to find room for them.
    I only have a limited amount of canes as I grow runner beans as well.
    The pole beans have a much better yield.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  6. Sherri on August 18, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I switched to pole beans this year as my back just can’t take the bending for harvesting a 100′ row every 2 days for weeks on end. Also, with bush plants, the beans can touch the soil and get a bit of rot on the them, so I much prefer the pole beans. Easier all around, but I’ve learned that my support structure isn’t at strong as it should be this year! I had to guy wire it to secure it recently as it was all in danger of tipping over with the weight of the plants and beans combined!

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  7. Annie on August 18, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I grow pole beans on a tepee made of sapling willow poles. I love the way it looks and the beans, four varieties produce like crazy. I have a small garden and the pole beans are the only way to go for me. These four plants feed me and several neighbors.

    Reply to Annie's comment

    • Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      How many of each of the four varieties? What were they, and what zone are you in? I planted only bush this past spring, and some of the plants were very productive, others didn’t do much of anything. I always loved pole beans if only for the looks.

      Reply to Lisa's comment

      • Susy on November 10, 2012 at 8:08 am

        I planted a packet of each variety in my new lower garden that has terrible silty soil (zone 5, NE Ohio). The varieties were: Rattlesnake, Emerite, French Gold, and Purple all seeds from Renee’s Garden.

        to Susy's comment

  8. KimH on August 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I’ve only ever grown bush beans with the exception of Scarlet Runner Beans.
    I agree with your other reader who said her back cant take it. I’ve got a lot of beans on my plants right now that I couldnt pick because my back was burning & hurt so bad last time I was there. I did what I could, and then just stopped for self preservation.
    I’ll have to look into doing pole beans next year, me thinks.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  9. Shannon on August 18, 2012 at 11:01 am

    This year I am trying bush beans. They are doing well. I see from your picture you grow different colors of beans. Do the different colors taste different?

    Reply to Shannon's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Nope, they all taste the same – I just think they’re really pretty. The yellow and purple ones are really nice because they’re so much easier to see when picking!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. risa bear on August 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

    We prefer pole, for all the reasons and especially flavor. We always have at lest a tripod of green beans and a fifty foot trellis of runner beans going; the latter we really like as a dried bean for winter eating.

    Reply to risa bear's comment

  11. Marcia on August 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    This year I grew pole beans for the first time and I am loving them. They produce more, are easier to pick and the variety I grew (French Gold by Renee’s Garden)are beautiful, pencil thin, extra long and tasty. They are outproducing my other beans by a country mile.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  12. KimP on August 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I’ve tried pole beans, but the strings when I’m eating them drive me CRAZY! So I’m back to bush beans, although the bending over to pick all the time isn’t so comfortable. Doesn’t drive me nearly as crazy as the strings, though! Have I just not tried enough varieties to find one that doesn’t have strings?

    Reply to KimP's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      There are stringless pole beans. I’m growing ‘Emerite’, ‘French Gold’, and ‘Slenderette’ from Renee’s Garden and they’re all quite good. In fact all five varieties of pole beans I’m growing are stringless.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • KimP on August 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm

        Perfect! My shopping list for next year’s garden is officially started. :)

        to KimP's comment

  13. daisy on August 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Your beans look gorgeous! How often/with what do you fertilize?

    Reply to daisy's comment

  14. Maybelline on August 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I planted pole beans this year (May) with little to know results. Live and learn. They will get yanked in preparation for fall vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  15. Jodiana on August 18, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I was thinking earlier this week how much I dislike picking bush beans. Partly b/c I don’t like looking for them and partly b/c they take up so much space. I’m thinking I will be planting the pole beans next year and not even bothering w/ bush style. I’m glad you mentioned the ones you planted are stringless, that’s what I think I will order!

    Reply to Jodiana's comment

  16. Annie on August 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I guess I’m one of the few that likes bush beans! lol! I used to grow Blue Lake with mediocre results but tried Jade this year and they blow all the rest away. Very tasty, stringless and very, very prolific. In fact, I’ve put up, given away, dried etc,. all I can do! and just from 3 short rows. They are a pain to pick sorta and I guess they take up more room (maybe?) but I really, really like this variety.

    Reply to Annie's comment

  17. Issa Waters on August 18, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    I’ve only grown bush beans, but I didn’t love them this year, and I’m keen to try pole beans next year. I love the tripods I’ve seen in everyone’s yard this year! I love the look they add to the garden. I’m thinking some variety with color, too, because the green ones are sneaky and hard to find them all! :-)

    Reply to Issa Waters's comment

  18. Corrie on August 19, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    I’m with you, Annie. I prefer bush beans. I like the filet types, nice and thin, without big, tough, pithy beans. I also have trouble with any kind of garden tower, trellis, or support falling over in my garden. That said, I will probably try one of the varieties Susy mentioned as being stringless.

    Reply to Corrie's comment

  19. Gabe on August 21, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Funny, I just picked up that book last week since I do a lot of trellising and such as well. I’ve done only pole beans the past couple years and have been mostly happy (they’re not as productive this year, but then, I don’t water them much). I think next year I’ll throw in a few bush beans to bridge the gap because they tend to produce faster and my pole beans are usually slow to get going – they do a lot of climbing before they start to fruit.

    Reply to Gabe's comment

  20. Bee on October 2, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Pole beans twining up the bamboo stakes, or whatever they can grab, just look so much better – and the closer they are to eye level, the less chance we’ll miss the sneaky ones until they’re gone to seed! Had great luck the past two years with “Kentucky Blue” (K. Wonder / Blue Lake hybrid). Slim and tender. Not as flashy as a home-grown tomato, but green beans from the backyard are a pleasure.

    I grew “Royal Burgundy” bush beans, too. The strangest thing, though, was that the purple bush beans I planted, all “decided” to grow as pole beans! And I know that the packet wasn’t mis-labeled, because I planted some of them for my Mom a couple weeks before, and hers grew into classic stocky bush-bean plants. So funny! They must have known I liked pole beans better. :-)

    Reply to Bee's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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