Gardening Articles: Care :: Plant Care Techniques

Wide Row Planting for Beans

by National Gardening Association Editors

For years, many gardeners have planted their bush bean seeds in single-file, straight-line rows with lots of room between the rows. However, some gardeners consider this method a waste of valuable growing space and not the most productive way to grow beans.

Instead, these gardeners use a wide-row technique that allows them to double and sometimes even triple their bean crops. With this method, you simply spread seeds over a wide seedbed, instead of putting one seed behind another in a row. The wide area contains many more plants than a single row of the same length, so you can harvest much more from the same area.

A row 16 to 18 inches across - about the width of a rake head - is very easy to plant, care for and harvest. With a little wide-row experience, you may want to try even wider rows.

Why Wide-Row?

The advantages to wide-row growing are many.

  • You can grow two to four times as many beans in the same amount of space.
  • Weeding is reduced to a minimum. As the beans grow, their leaves group together and form a "living mulch," which blocks the sun, inhibiting weed growth.
  • Many gardeners spread mulch - organic matter such as hay, pine needles or leaves - around all their plants in the garden to fight weeds and retain moisture in the soil. Wide rows mulch themselves, so you only need to use small amounts of mulch to keep weeds down in the walkways and to help retain moisture. You'll also have fewer walkways using wide rows, so you really can save a lot of space, effort and mulch.
  • Moisture is conserved by the shade because the sun can't scorch the soil and dry it out as much. Moist soil stays cooler, so beans in very hot climates don't wither as much or stop producing as quickly.
  • The plants in the middle of the rows are protected from the full effects of hot, drying winds. They don't dry out rapidly like those in a single row. This can be especially important in water-short areas of the country.
  • Harvesting is easier with wide rows. You can pick much more without having to continually get up and move down the row. It's pleasant to take a stool into the garden, sit down and enjoy picking beans by the bushel.
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