BioAge's Bean Growing Guide for Gardeners

28.05.23 08:43 PM By Rhyse Crompton

Beans are versatile and nutritious legumes that can be easily grown in South African gardens, and are a tasty addition to your meal-prep repertoire. Whether you have a small backyard veggie garden, a container garden, or a larger agricultural space, growing beans can be a quite a bit of fun and a very easy exercise (it's harder navigating traffic in Johannesburg, to be sure). We will explore the key steps and considerations for successfully growing beans in a South African garden, including choosing the right bean varieties, preparing the soil, planting, caring for the plants, and harvesting. We'll also include some ways in which you can use BioAge products when growing your beans. 

Starke Ayres Bush Bean Contender
Image taken from the Starke Ayres website.

Choosing A Bean Bush

The first step to successful bean cultivation is selecting the appropriate bean varieties for the South African climate. There are various types of beans to choose from, including bush beans and pole beans. Some recommended bean varieties for South African gardens include green beans, runner beans, and sugar snap peas. Consider factors such as heat tolerance, disease resistance, and growth habit when selecting bean varieties.

It's worth keeping in mind where you get your seeds from: we have tried using fancy seeds from overseas, but sometimes these don't perform well in the South African environment. Our most recent crop at our test farm was the Starke Ayres Contender Bush Bean, and did we get a lot of produce in 2022! Starke Ayres is a great South African business that creates some great non-GMO commercial, hybrid and heirloom seeds and you can find them at most retailers. 

Preparing Soil

Beans thrive in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Prior to planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris. Incorporate organic compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to enhance its fertility and improve moisture retention. Sandy soils are for farmers, they say. Veggie gardens and container farms must aim for a dark, rich loam. Do you know what your soil's PH level is? Most gardeners do not, so maybe buy a cheap soil test kit (they are usually a few hundred rands) and make sure you aim for a healthy 6.0-7.0 acidity. Anything lower than 6.0 can be rectified by adding a cup of lime to every m2 of veggie garden. 

Planting Beans

Beans are warm-season crops and should be planted after the last frost date in your area. Choose a sunny location in your garden that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. Create rows or mounds for planting, leaving adequate space between the plants. Sow the seeds at a depth of about 1 to 2 inches, following the spacing recommendations provided on the seed packet. Water the soil gently after planting to ensure proper seed-to-soil contact. 2 inches may seem deep for a small plant like the bean, but this ensures that it develops a healthy root system and strong stem base. 

Pole beans on a homemade bamboo stick tripod. Easy to make and easy to disassemble.

Watering Your Bean

Adequate and consistent moisture is crucial for growing beans in South Africa. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overhead watering to prevent the spread of fungal diseases. Consider using mulch around the plants to help retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth. We always give a good watering via sprinkler during the morning hours every day during summer (when you'll be planting beans). We turn the sprinkler on low, and place it at the base of each plant for a few minutes while de-weeding. 

If you are growing pole beans, provide appropriate support structures such as trellises, stakes, or netting for the plants to climb. Install the supports at the time of planting or shortly thereafter, ensuring they are firmly anchored. Train the bean vines to climb the supports as they grow, guiding them gently to avoid damaging the plants. If you are planting beans for the first time in your garden, we suggest buying bush beans as they are easier to manage. However, they are more at risk from pests. 


Regular weeding is essential to minimize competition for nutrients and water. Remove any weeds that emerge near the bean plants, taking care not to disturb the root system of the beans. Applying a layer of organic mulch can help suppress weed growth and conserve soil moisture.

Super-healthy bush beans (behind the lettuces).

Beans are perfect candidates for an organic fertilizer as they prefer 'softer' fertilizers in comparison to synthetic fertilizers. Too much nitrogen for a bean can have a very detrimental effect as they easily suffer nitrogen burn. Additionally, they manage to access most of the nitrogen in the soil thanks to their ability to fix nitrogen to their roots with the help of microorganisms (which is a trait shared by all legumes). 

Growing beans in South Africa is made easy with a Nitro-Gro fertilizer regime. Before planting the bean seed, we treat the soil with a 1:50 dilution soil drench. For our large 12m2 bean-bed we use about a 10-litre bucket of this mixture. Once the beans have germinated, we then used a 1:100 dilution soil drench when the plants are 3-6 inches tall. Then, every two weeks we applied a heavy spray of 1:200 dilution foliar spray. This means our entire 12m2 bean-bed was treated with a 500ml bottle of Nitro-Gro from seed to harvest. 

Pests & Disease

Beans can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases, including aphids, bean beetles, and fungal infections. Regularly inspect the plants for signs of pest activity or disease symptoms, such as discolored leaves or chewed foliage. Implement organic pest control methods such as handpicking insects or using insecticidal soaps. Practice crop rotation and maintain good garden hygiene to reduce the risk of disease. Our Nitro-Gro is a biostimulant, which means that it augments the bean plant's immunity toward certain diseases. We also use snail-traps in order to eliminate snails that eat humongous volumes of foliage. 

Harvesting Your Beans 

Bean plants typically reach maturity and start producing pods within 60 to 80 days after planting, depending on the variety. Harvest the beans regularly when the pods are mature but still tender. Make sure that you 'button-off' the bean pod right where it joins the stem. Avoid pulling beans off, as this may damage the plant. 

As mentioned in this guide to growing beans, we used a single 500ml bottle for a large bush bean bed that hosted 12 mature plants. Take a look at our product on the right. get your hands on a 500ml bottle of Nitro-Gro and you too can become a bush or pole bean gardener. You'll be harvesting so many beans you'll have to start donating them to the church kitchen... guaranteed. 

Rhyse Crompton

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