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Gardening Update: All About Snap Beans

Whether you call them snap beans, green beans or string beans, they are the same thing. By now, if you have planted beans in our region, you are having fun watching them grow.

Snap beans happen to be the third most grown vegetable in backyard gardens, behind tomatoes and peppers.

Snap beans grow quickly. From planting to harvest, the time can be as little as 45 days, provided the weather is warm and sunny. Snap beans need full sunlight to grow properly.

They are an annual plant, meaning that they need to be replanted every year.

When deciding where to plant snap beans, avoid an area that previously was covered with grass. Planting in formerly grass-covered areas will put beans at risk for cutworms, which will attack bean at night, killing the stems.

To help prevent this, you can take an 8-ounce plastic cup, cut out the bottom and place it around the stem. Make sure about 1 inch of the cup is in the soil and 3 inches are in the air, making a border or protective barrier around the plant.

You also can place a little bit of aluminum foil around the base of each stem for the first few weeks to prevent cutworm damage. After a few weeks, the bean plants will be strong enough that the aluminum foil no longer will be needed.

Snap beans can be canned, but you must use a pressure canner. Do not use a water-bath canner to preserve green beans because you could put yourself at risk of botulism.

Green beans are a low-calorie snack, but they also are very nutrient dense, offering a whole range of important vitamins and minerals. For instance, they are high in vitamin C, which helps enhance our immune function. They contain vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting and promotes vitamin A, which is good for eye health. They also contain folate, which helps with cell growth and development.

In addition to health benefits, green beans are good for the soil because of their role in nitrogen fixing. That means nitrogen from the air is converted to other compounds in the soil, which then become available for plants to use.

For more information on safely growing, processing and selling snap beans and other specialty crops in North Dakota, visit NDSU Extension’s Field to Fork website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork. See www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/field-to-fork-snap-beans/fn1798.pdf for more ways to enjoy green beans.

 

Abigail Glaser, program assistant, NDSU Extension
Julie Garden-Robinson, food and nutrition specialist, NDSU Extension

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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