Harvesting your snap beans

Alright, so here I am, the curious gardener, always looking to experiment with my plants. After a long (to me) wait, my snap beans finally went all the way and fruited. Yes, after more than a month of taunting me with pretty bunches of flowers, the courtship is finally over and we are in business!

Remember this picture? Yup, meet the Firstborn.

So my next puzzle was deciding when to harvest the beans.

There are many, many sites that tell you that, but I am ever the Doubting Thomas – I have to see and do things myself to believe they should be done that way. I know, I know, it’s a character flaw… :P

So, do you remember Baby Bean? Well, BB wasn’t the firstborn. There was actually another bean that was so well-hidden under a bunch of hanging leaves, that was fully grown when I finally found it. So it reached adulthood while the others were just becoming teens. Because of this, I decided to keep it for seeds for the next generation, and wait for the others to grow up. I guess Firstborn is going to be my benchmark for the entire life cycle of a bean on the vine.

So, coming back to the question… how grown up is “grown up”? I knew that keeping the beans on mama plant would result in less tenderness as they grew up. But, I wanted to know how big they’d be able to grow. Some grew pretty straight while others were curved like a sickle. Would the shape affect the length, I wondered? Not really, it appears. Some were just longer or shorter than others, regardless of shape.

Again, back to the question… WHEN to harvest the beans from the plant?

The University of Illinois extension mentions:

Harvest when the pods are firm, crisp and fully elongated, but before the seed within the pod has developed significantly. … Be careful not to break the stems or branches, which are brittle on most bean varieties. The bean plant continues to form new flowers and produces more beans if pods are continually removed before the seeds mature.

Ohio State University advises harvesting “when tender and well-shaped, before the developing seeds cause the pods to bulge”.

My dad simply told me to pick them before the beans got bumpy.

So… we’ve had our first harvest. It was a modest one with just six beans ranging from 10 to 13cm long. But, it was just the first. There are more beans still developing on the vines and I really hope bean season will last for a while. If it doesn’t, then I’ll have to take note of how long it took to reach this point, and work out a timetable for successive planting in the future, like what I’m doing with my sweet potatoes and sweet corn. It’s kind of challenging planning that, but I’m up for it. Here’s to the future. Cheers!

Our first humble harvest of snap beans

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