What’s Easy to Grow, Healthy, and Tasty? Beans!

Legumes are good for you and good for your back yard

  • 24 April 2020
  • Author: Frederika Bain
  • Number of views: 1071
What’s Easy to Grow, Healthy, and Tasty? Beans!

If you’re starting a home garden, make sure you add beans! Beans improve soil fertility, which helps crop diversity and sustainability in Hawai‘i. They’re highly nutritious—rich in protein, fiber, and the good carbohydrates. And beans don’t require much water or fertilizer, yet they’re fast-growing and produce heavy yields, especially if you’ve picked the right location.

As a vegetarian advocate for healthy eating, I am a big believer in adding legumes—beans—to your everyday diet. The benefits include reducing your risk of heart disease and colon cancer, controlling diabetes, boosting your immune system, and eliminating harmful free radicals from your body. Nutrient-packed beans also benefit your eyes and bones, while regulating the digestive processes.

Pole or bush? It depends on your available space

Pole beans are a smart choice for space-challenged gardens, or if your aim is to produce various crops all at once using a smaller space, since they take up less footprint. The plants will produce for 4-6 weeks, but if you’re lucky, some varieties will continue to yield indefinitely in Hawai‘i, and will flower and produce pods over and over.

The twining vines of pole beans can rocket 5–10 feet skyward, as long as they have good scaffolding to climb. This doesn’t require a fancy contraption. Any sturdy support will do: an old ladder, bamboo tied together to form a tepee, old wire or slatted wood fencing, or heavy-duty nylon string strung between two uprights. A homemade trellis should be 4–8 feet tall and strong enough to withstand high winds and the weight of mature beans.

Bush bean pods are round or flat in shape and come in green, yellow wax, and purple shades. The plants grow around two feet tall and two feet wide. They have a production period of just 2–3 weeks and a relatively short yield period of 50–60 days. They tend to produce fewer beans than the pole variety. You can grow them in the ground or in pots or raised beds.

Planting, growing, and harvesting beans

Beans are easy and satisfying to grow in Hawai‘i, especially in spring and summer. They flourish most anywhere but prefer well-drained soil with good organic matter. I recommend planting 2–3 seeds, 1–1.5 inches deep, with 1-foot spacing between plants and 2-foot spacing between rows. Plant them directly into soil or media, and protect the baby sprouts from snails and birds. Beans donʻt require a lot of water, but they do prefer regular irrigation.

Once your legumes begin to bear fruit, it’s important to harvest regularly. Donʻt allow your plants to reach the dry-bean stage, or they will slow down or even stop producing. But at the very end of the season, leave a few pods on the vine to dry. This way, youʻll have your own seeds for the next growing season.

In general, all bean varieties grow well in Hawai‘i, but some will yield early in the season, others later. For more information, visit the UH Master Gardeners website.

Amjad Ahmad. Cooperative Extension Service, Sustainable & Organic Agriculture Program. UH College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources


A Book of Beauty

Alumna pens an insider’s look at historical and everyday designs

MacNut Pest Management

A new study on the felted coccid can help growers manage loss from pests

Restoration and Re-Engagement

A $2M NRCS grant will support underserved communities and build healthy, productive soils

Housing Our Veterans

AUW is helping U.S. Vets have greater impact in Hawaiʻi

ʻAlae ʻula

NREM student recognized at Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference

In the House

FCS and MBBE join the Hawaiʻi Book & Music Festival

Hawaiiscape Green

Extension teams up with LICH to help small and minority-owned businesses


Extension mini-conference is set for Oct. 15

Piggeries in Puna

A new deep-litter design may help jump-start family farms

Essentials and Organics

A new NIFA grant will support essential oils’ potential to safeguard organic crops

Grand (Re)Opening!

After a lengthy construction, the ADSC is resuming analysis.

In the Bull Pen

Extension hosts a speaker panel on livestock questions

CTAHR 2019-2020 Annual Report

Please take a few minutes to read these highlights in instruction, research, and extension

Long-Awaited Support

A new NIFA grant could enhance Hawaiʻi’s avocado industry

Starting from Seed

HDFS launches Ag videos for homeschooled keiki

Elephant in the Ocean

NREM study finds plastic pollution is outpacing cleanup models

A 600% Increase

Aloha United Way’s “COVID-19 Rent and Utility Assistance Program” is helping thousands

Giant Candy Canes

“Kō: Ethnobotanical Guide to Hawaiian Sugarcane Cultivars” gives a fascinating history

Ready, Set, Students

No in-class? No problem. ASAO is keeping CTAHR students in the loop

Helping 500,000+

The 2020 AUW Campaign targets Hawaiʻi residents who need assistance

A.I. in Ag

New grant opportunity is due October 5

Beyond Beginners

GoFarm Hawaiʻi consults on business plans, grant writing, and a whole lot more.

Vegan Leather

FDM students hope to establish sustainable manufacturing in Hawaiʻi

One Busy Man

Extension agent is helping livestock producers, near and far

$1.5M for Ag Ed

Grant designed to expand education for Native Hawaiians

Primed for Expansion

NIFA awards almost $1M to CTAHR’s Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture

Textbook Nutrition

Food Science and Human Nutrition’s latest edition adds an interactive layer

Welcome, Rock

Dr. Zhi-Yan Du joins MBBE

Men’s Wear

FDM professor is featured in a new book on masculine clothing

A Virtual Garden

The American Society for Horticultural Science’s online conference is a hit

RU AgCurious?

GoFarm Hawaiʻi Windward kicks off another farmer training

Giant Smiles

4-H contest gets keiki excited about agriculture

Safe You, Safe Campus

IT Services’ new app is mandatory for those coming to UH