purple beans grown inside my apartment!
Growing Bush Beans Indoors
Lately I’ve been trying to grow as many different varieties of vegetables as possible in my hydroponic gardens.
So when I heard that beans were both easy to grow and quick to harvest, I was intrigued.
Bush beans are small, compact plants that can easily produce a ton of cute, colorful beans in a small footprint – so they’re perfect for Aerogardens.
And, best of all, they don’t require a lot of water, nutrition or maintenance!
If you’re looking for a tasty, easy to grow vegetable indoors, you have to try growing beans.
Here’s everything I’ve learned about growing bush beans in the Aerogarden.
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Growing Beans in the Aerogarden
I went overboard on buying seeds this year and picked up a ton of new-to-me varieties, including a couple beans.
It continues to amaze me how store-bought veggies can taste completely different from home-grown or farmer’s market produce.
And ever since I realized that distinction, I’ve been obsessed with finding the tastiest varieties of vegetables I used to hate.
It turns out Asian eggplants taste so much better!
I came to a similar conclusion with green beans.
The larger, chunkier green beans I grew up eating taste.. well, bland (both fresh and canned).
Then I started eating the slimmer, more delicate French bean variety, haricots verts, and I realized not all beans tasted awful.
I figured that even if they didn’t taste great, they’d be colorful and pretty to look at!
Quickly jump to:
- bush bean varieties
- best Aerogarden model for growing beans
- seed starting
Choosing the Right Seeds
There’re so many varieties of beans out there, so you’re not limited to the varieties I chose.
But the most important thing to consider when growing anything in the Aerogarden is size. Namely, the full grown size of the plant.
There are four different sizes of Aerogardens, but they all have a max height capacity. So, height is the main limitation when it comes to growing indoors with smart gardens.
In general, you’ll want to always choose compact seed varieties that are as small as possible. I generally look for the words ‘container friendly’ or ‘dwarf’ or compact on seed descriptions!
Bush Beans vs Pole Beans
With beans, you have two main types: bush beans and pole beans.
The main difference is in their growth habits – pole beans have climbing vines and grow upwards. Think Jack and the beanstalk and his magic beans that grew so tall they reached another world.
Bush beans, on the other hand, are compact beans that grow like a little shrub. They’re much shorter, squatter plants that don’t need a trellis for support.
When it comes to growing beans indoors, in something like the Aerogarden, you’ll want to buy bush bean seeds.
Bush Bean Varieties
One of the things I love most about the Aerogardens is the possibility to grow all sorts of unique, hard-to-find vegetable varieties.
I pretty much exclusively buy heirloom seeds and it turns out there’s hundreds of different kinds of unique green beans.
Some fun bush bean varieties to try growing include:
- Royal Burgundy bush beans
- Dragon’s Tongue bush beans
- Haricots Verts beans
- Mascotte beans
- Gold Rush bush beans
- Blue Lake bush beans
- Ferrari bush beans
- Contender bush beans
- Jade bush beans
- Serpedor wax romano beans
- Tavera filet bush beans
- Purple Queen bush beans
- Provider bush beans
- Pinkeye Purple Hull cow bush beans
- Masai bush beans
- California blackeye #5 bush beans
Which Aerogarden Model is Best for Growing Bush Beans?
Bush bean plants generally top out at 1 to 2 feet tall, so they’re pretty compact plants.
The great thing about that is you can grow them in most of the Aerogardens. I would recommend the Bounty Elite, which has up to 2 feet of growing height and 50 watt LED lights that support flowering plants.
Each bush bean plant needs about 3 spaces of room.
Just remember to fill the empty spaces of the garden with space blockers, to prevent algae from forming in the grow bowl.
When growing outdoors, the common advice is to directly sow beans in soil because the roots are sensitive to being disturbed.
But with hydroponics, we want to do things a little differently, because beans prefer a relatively dry environment.
Beans don’t require much water, especially in their early stages of growth. I find that when directly planting bush beans in the Aerogarden, the seeds tend to rot, not sprout at all, or even grow upside down.
Instead, I recommend starting seeds with the paper towel method.
(You can also seed start bush beans in potting soil and then wash off the soil before transplanting to the Aerogarden, but that’s a bit more messy).
Paper Towel Method to Start Seeds
Wet a paper towel and wring out any excess moisture.
Place the beans in the center of the paper towel, and fold up the towel like a little packet, to keep the seeds in place.
Then put the paper towel ‘envelope’ in a ziplock or plastic bag, to lock in moisture. Leave the bag in a dark spot, like a kitchen cupboard, and check on the seeds every couple days.
Bush beans are relatively quick-germinating seeds, so you should see growth in about 4-7 days.
take a paper towel sheet and get it damp, but squeeze out any excess moisture
place your seeds in the center of the paper towel, fold it up so they don’t fall out and place it inside a sealed ziplock bag
Transferring Bush Beans into the Aerogarden
Once the bush bean seeds have sprouted, with nice long white roots, they can be transferred to the Aerogarden.
The bean sprouts are quite large, so you may need to cut the sponges open in order to fit the seeds inside.
my bush beans germinated in 5 days, then I transferred them to Aerogarden sponges
the sponges may need to be cut, and the labels as well, since bean seeds are so large
They have better staying power on the pod cages as well as a wider central hole.
The third party labels tend to have a very small center hole, which is too narrow for the bush beans.
As a result, some of my baby bush bean seedlings grew sideways or outside of the hole and the labels had to be cut in half.
the sponges may need to be cut, and the labels as well, since bean seeds are so large
Nutrition & Maintenance
I found that the 2 week Aerogarden nutrient schedule was almost too much for the plants.
Beans typically produce nitrogen and fix nitrogen deficiencies when grown in soil (which is why they’re often companion planted with veggies like eggplants, peas and brassicas) so you don’t want to over fertilize.
An excess of nitrogen will cause yellowing of the leaves – you’ll notice it right away.
Try adding nutrition on a 3 week schedule, or as your plants seem to need a top up.
first: healthy green leaves on bean plant | second: yellow leaves due to over fertilization | last: spotty bleaches leaves due to spider mite damage
If the plants flower but don’t set pods, they may be zinc deficient.
If you do have trouble getting your bean plants to produce pods, you can add a fertilizer like this one that is high in phosphorous and potassium.
I added this about once a month and it helped to dramatically increase the number of beans I got on each plant.
Note – the bloom fertilizer is highly concentrated! Add just a 1/2 teaspoon to a gallon of water and don’t overfeed.
bean flowers + baby beans forming
Typically bush beans don’t need to be pruned.
However, if you find that the plants are getting overcrowded in the Aerogarden, with tons of leaves all over the place, you can thin some of the larger leaves to encourage air flow.
Maintaining healthy leaves takes away energy from the plant, so I often like to remove excess leaves when the plant has beans already forming. It also helps me stay on top of maintenance, notice any issues right away, and easily identify beans.
I found that growing 5 bean plants in half of the Farm was just pushing the limits of the garden. At some points the foliage would overtake the Farm and topple over onto the floor, so I did thin out the bean plants every so often.
I also attempted to trellis the back row of plants, to give them some space to grow upwards and not overcrowd the grow deck.
Bean leaves have a slightly sticky, tacky feel to the leaves and some of their vines are almost like climbing vines – they grew sideways, outwards and upwards trying to reach my other Farm machines.
While I don’t think trellising is necessary, it did seem to help with crowding and airflow.
The newest Farm machines come with Aerogarden’s updated trellis supports. It has two long horizontal bungee cords and 3 shorter vertical cords that you can hook together to form a grid pattern of sorts.
bush bean spillage, so I set up the Aerogarden Farm trellis to give some vertical support
A nickname for bush beans is ‘snap beans’ because the beans are ready to be harvested when they easily ‘snap’ off the vine.
You actually don’t want to wait too long – the pods should be about a couple inches long, depending on the variety, without hugely visible seeds inside.
To harvest, hold the stem in one hand and the pod in the other, and the bean should cleanly break off in half.
Be careful not to just roughly pull with one hand or you might break off the branch itself, which will continue to produce beans.
There are lots of different varieties of bush beans, with beans that come in all sizes, shapes and colors, but all varieties taste the best when they’re harvested early.
The smaller the bean, the more tender!
harvesting bush beans
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Also, by harvesting early and regularly, you encourage the plant to keep producing.
If the bush gets too fat with beans that are left to form seeds, the plant will stop producing new flowers.
Bush beans tend to produce the bulk of their fruit in one main rotation that lasts for a few weeks.
So you can succession plant, or stagger the planting of your bush beans, if you want to be able to continuously harvest beans for months at a time.
bush bean seedlings in various stages of growth
Beans are also one of the easiest plants to save seeds from.
Leave the beans to dry on the vine (they’ll turn brown and visibly dry looking) with large bulges inside the pod. You’ll know the beans are ready to save seeds when you rattle the bean and hear the seeds shake inside.
Remove the seeds from the pods and let them completely dry.
Then store in a cool, dry place. They should last for 1-2 years.
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