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Green Beans for the Holidays – Should You Plant Pole or Bush Green Beans Next Year?

Are you one of the 20 million people who enjoyed green bean casserole for Thanksgiving dinner? If you plant green beans in your garden this summer, you can preserve and use your home-grown green beans in your next Thanksgiving meal. In this article, you will learn more about your green bean planting options and how to choose which beans to grow and enjoy.

By Janelle Rietz-Kamenar, Master Gardener

Green Beans for the Holidays – Should You Plant Pole or Bush Green Beans Next Year?

Many of us choose to adorn our holiday tables with the classic Green Bean Casserole (French cut green beans, fried onions, and mushroom soup).  For trivia types, this casserole was first created in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly while employed at the Campbell Soup Company.  As of 2020, Campbells estimated that approximately 20 million U. S. Thanksgiving dinners include this dish each year.  That’s a lot of beans!  And a reason to contemplate growing green beans next gardening season and then freezing them for the holiday season.  Read more to determine if you should plant the Pole or Bush type green beans.


Green Beans are also referred to as Snap Beans or String Beans and are a member of the wax bean family.  And not to confuse people, but string beans can also be yellow, red, striped, and even purple (the purple disappears when cooked)!


Growing green beans in your garden has many benefits; to name a few:


·       Easy to grow especially for young children as the larger seed size makes it easier to plant and the long green bean makes it easier for them to see to harvest;

·       Excellent companion plant to tomatoes as they put nitrogen back into the soil;

·       Can be grown in smaller spaces but require full sun; and

·       Excellent source of nutrition (low in calories, high in antioxidants including Vitamin C and fiber).



In general, there are two types of these beans for gardeners to consider:  Pole vs. Bush beans. Pole Beans, simply put, are vining plants which must be supported by a trellis, pole, or fence.  They can grow up to 6 to 7 feet long.  Bush beans are low growing plants that grow 1 to 2 feet tall only.  So which type is better to plant:


Advantages of Bush Beans:

·       No trellis or pole is required;

·       Great for compacted, raised beds;

·       Have a shorter production time (usually harvest within 50 to 55 days vs. 55 to 65 days for pole beans)

·       Produce all their beans within a short time (2 to 3 weeks) which is great for freezing and can stagger planting times for additional harvests

Advantages of Pole Beans:

·       More productive than bush beans (in a 10-foot row space, pole beans can yield 8 pounds of produce compared to bush beans at 4 to 5 pounds)

·       Have a longer harvest window if you prefer to eat them fresh (continually harvest them).

·       Less susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew

·       Have a better flavor than bush beans (sweeter and starchier)

·       Easier to harvest (gives your back a break)

·       Excellent companion plant to corn and squash/cucumber or with a teepee system you can plant lettuce, parsley, or radishes in the center.



So, while you are enjoying your holiday feast, remember to dream about the upcoming planting season and decide if you are going to plant pole vs. bush string beans next year!



·       Green Bean Casserole,

·       WebMD Health Benefits of Green Beans. November 28, 2022

· About Pole Beans

·       Iowa State Extension and Outreach, Which is more productive, bush or pole green beans?

Photo credits: (1,2),, All Creative Commons (3)

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