No-Till Yard Beans

By Dawn

You’ve decided that this is the year you will start gardening, or maybe this is the year you will expand your garden.  I am here to teach you a very simple technique that requires no special equipment and can be done by even a child.  Yard beans, the no-till way. 

Bush beans, pole beans and half runners are some of the easiest things to grow making them perfect for newer gardeners.  These delicious and versatile veggies pack a punch in the antioxidant department as well as containing lutein, beta carotene, vitamin C, Vitamin K and fiber.   These crops, once harvested, hold their amazing crisp, fresh from the garden flavor when frozen and when canned, can be stored for years without degradation of flavor or nutrients. 

In the sustainability department, the bean may win for the easiest to save seed from.  What this means for the sustainable gardener is that once you procure your first batch of beans in a variety that you love, you can simply save those seeds from year to year, never having to purchase them again.  There are no difficult preps needed to save the seed, just allow the bean pods to dry on the vine at the end of growing season and then harvest the hard little seeds to store in a cool dry place for next year.

What is my secret to these super easy no-till methods?  It’s something I fondly call “yard beans.”  You can plant “yard beans” in the country, city, suburbs, just about anywhere you have access to a bit of narrow space in your yard.  Because pole beans have a beautiful climbing nature with petite flowers ranging from white to pink and purples, these crops can be added into most landscapes or against fence rows without distracting from the beauty around them.

How do you do this amazing technique?  Gather the following … old newspapers, dirt (preferably with rich organic compost mixed in), and bean seed.  Toss all the yard bean ingredients into a wheelbarrow and head to your planting spot.  Some would want perfectly straight rows, no problem, but you can also kind of eyeball this too. 

Supplies for yard beans.

The first step is to lay out your newspaper in a line, approximately 3 to 5 layers thick.  Don’t do this on a windy day or you may give your neighbors a good laugh as you chase the daily news down the road. 

The second step is to pour a layer of dirt right down the center of all those obituaries and political polls.  Leave the dirt pile a bit higher in the center and let it kind of fall off a bit on the sides.  You do not have to push the dirt all the way to the edge of your newspapers; in fact, this may encourage weeds to “jump” your barrier.

Method for planting your no-till beans.

The next step is to plant your bean seed.  Beans typically do best when planted under no more than 1/2-1 inch of soil so just poke the little buggers down in your mound and loosely cover over with soil.

The line of beans.

Finally, and most importantly, water your yard beans.  This is very important as you want to start to break down the newspaper as well.  Breaking down the newspaper will also help encourage those slithering fish bait creatures to tunnel up, and we all know that earth worms are fantastic soil additions.

Step back and wait.  It is a good idea to add 4’ stakes at the ends of your rows if planting pole beans.  The beans love a good acrobatic session between rows of crafted twine spider webbing between the stakes.

The final product … beautiful rows of yard beans.

There you have it, your neighbors may be jealous at your ingenuity.  You may even find copy-cat gardeners planting no till yard beans all around you.  But, now you are the expert and can teach them what to do.

  • Published on Mar 31, 2016
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