Whether you grow pole beans or bush beans, beans are a relatively easy vegetable to grow in the home garden. Besides being loaded with nutrients and low in calories, beans are just plain tasty. But there are so many to choose from it can be difficult to know which is right for you. There are some differences between bush varieties and pole varieties that might help you decide.
Bush beans reach a mature height of between 2 to 3 feet. Their spread is only about 2 feet as well. They should be spaced in the garden, about 2 to 3 feet apart from one another. They require no support. Pole beans on the other hand can and will climb whatever is nearby until they reach their mature height of six feet or more. They do not develop into very broad plants but they do require support such as stakes or a trellis. Depending on the type of support you supply, the pole beans can take up less actual soil space. If you lave limited garden space, pole beans may be a better choice for you.
Both types of beans reach maturity in 55 to 60 days, depending on the variety. The difference is in how long they continue to produce beans. Bush beans will produce buds and fruit just once. The entire crop will be done within a couple of weeks. Pole beans will continue to develop beans until temperatures get to cold. They may not produce as many all at once but over the course of the growing period, they will produce more beans, all things being equal. If you want to can or freeze beans, one large crop may be the better way to go. If you prefer a steady supply to eat fresh all summer long, pole beans are the answer.
With bush beans, the plants are low and thick with foliage. You will need to bend or kneel to search for beans hidden among the leaves. With pole beans, the plant is more spread out making the beans easier to see. Also the more you harvest from pole beans, the more they produce. If you have difficulty working bent over or kneeling, pole beans might be the option for you.
Taste is subjective. I, personally grow both types. I like to can beans for my family to enjoy until next year and bush beans make this easy to do. We eat fresh pole beans until they quit producing. While there is a slight difference in taste to me, I enjoy both and encourage you to experiment and decide for yourself.
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Utah State University: Pole & Bush Beans
University of Illinois: Beans