For gardeners who just can’t stand to keep their hands out of the soil for any length of time, growing food indoors in containers can be a great pastime during the winter months.
Green beans are a relatively quick-growing vegetable that can be grown inside your home and also look quite beautiful, as well.
Not only that, but they are also quite tasty and nutritious. While they may not be a nutritional powerhouse like broccoli and kale, green beans are still rich in many vitamins and nutrients. For example, one cup of cooked green beans has 22 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K, 18 percent of manganese and 16 percent of fiber. They even have carotenoids in concentrations similar to that of carrots and tomatoes.
Some Facts About Green Beans
Green beans were once referred to as string beans because of a “string” that ran down the seam of the bean and needed to be pulled out before eating. Today, most varieties have had the string bred out of them and they are more often referred to as snap beans because their crunchiness allows them to be easily snapped between your fingers.
When selecting your seeds, it is important to know that there are two main types: beans that grow as vines (typically referred to as pole beans) and bush beans. For indoor gardeners, bush beans are preferred because they do better in containers and take up less room in your home.
Plants that you are growing indoors can be started any time of the year, but you still need to remember that they have certain environmental requirements. Green beans need plenty of light, so you will need to place them in a part of your home where they can get a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day. Alternatively, grow lights can work if you do not have a window that gets enough sun.
Your plants will do best if they are kept in a spot where the temperature is between 50 and 85 degrees.
They are also an annual plant, so you will only have them for one season.
Starting Your Seeds
The best containers for your green beans are long and narrow with plenty of drainage. Fill your containers with compost-enriched and well-draining soil. A good formula for growing green beans is two parts garden soil, one part compost and one part sand. You should avoid using soil that is rich in nitrogen.
Once your containers are ready, plant your seeds about one and one-half inches deep and at least four inches apart from one another. If you are growing pole beans, you will need longer stakes, or a trellis for the vines to climb. Place stakes that are about one foot in height next to each seed, and water.
Caring For Your Plants
Keep the soil for your green bean plants evenly moist, but not too wet. As the shoots begin to appear, make sure you are watering at root level rather wetting the entire plant. Once the seedlings are a couple of inches tall, you can add some mulch around them, as this will help to hold in the moisture and give you healthier plants.
Keep in mind that green beans are vulnerable to certain types of diseases, such as blight. If you notice a diseased plant, remove it immediately to keep the disease from spreading to other plants.
Green bean plants do not require much in the way of fertilization, but since you are growing them indoors, they can benefit from light feeding every so often. Try using a compost tea once or twice during their growing season.
Within 50-60 days, your plants should be fully grown and ready for harvest.
Harvesting and Enjoying Your Green Beans
Green beans are picked when they are still immature. Most varieties will be ready for harvest after they have reached about three inches in length but have not yet plumped out. Harvest them regularly to encourage more growth.
Unwashed beans may be stored in a plastic bag in your vegetable crisper for about a week, or if you have more than you can use in that timeframe, you may freeze them.
If you wish to save seeds in order to start a new plant, you will have to allow the plant to mature until some of the pods have become very plump and turned brown.
As for the beans that you harvest for eating, you can enjoy them raw or cooked in soups, casseroles or simply on their own. One of the healthiest ways of cooking them is to steam them for only five minutes. Doing so will make them nice and tender while bringing out their maximum flavor and preserving their nutritional value.
Do you have any advice for cooking green beans indoors? Share your tips in the section below: