Peas and Snap Beans – since peas and beans are so much alike, lets just group them together. In fact, there are debates saying that peas and beans are the same thing. I personally divide peas and beans into 2 groups – one you eat whole (snap beans) and one you shell to get the bean/pea out of the inside and eat it instead of eating the husk.
Peas and beans return nitrogen into the soil, so that makes them good for crop rotation. Before you plant a high nitrogen requirement crop, such as corn, plant some beans or peas at the same time, or the season before the you plant the corn.
One of the problems with peas and beans – wildlife love it. Deer and rabbits will eat the bean / pea plants down to nothing but a stub sticking out of the ground. To protect the bean and pea plants, plant some squash or zucchini with them. The pea / bean plants will provide the squash plants with nitrogen, and the squash plants will help protect the pea plants from deer. The squash and zucchini plants have little “hairs” on the stalks that the deer do not like.
Peas and beans are a good long term storage food crop. The old timers used to run a needle and thread through the pod, and hang it up to dry. Thus the name “string beans”. When it comes time to eat the beans, pull them off the string and boil until ready to eat.
Care must be taken when picking the beans and peas. If you pull too hard, part of the plant may break off. Sometimes I like to use scissors to cut the pea / bean pod off, so that the rest of the plant is not damaged.
Snap Beans are a high producing plant, the more you pick it, the more it produces. While you might get just a couple of pickings from purple hull or silver skin crowder peas.
My pea and bean stockpile contains maybe 4 or 5 different types of seeds – mainly purple hull pink eyes and about 3 different types of snap beans.
There are 2 different types of bean plants – runners and bush.
Bush beans – and we are not talking about the canned “Bush baked beans” either. These are bean plants that form a bush and do not form a vine.
Runners also called climbing beans – do just as their name implies, the vine climbs stuff. A lot of times people will plant their beans and corn together. The beans will supply the corn with nitrogen and the corn will give the bean vines something to climb on. Other people may plant their bean vines close to a fence so that the vines have something to climb on.
Personally, I like bush beans. Even though you have to dig through the bush to find the beans, it seems like you can plant more bush beans then you can runners in the same amount of space.
Fertilizer – when adding commercial fertilizer to peas and beans, try not to add add a lot of nitrogen. Use a well balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 13-13-13. In most cases beans and peas do not need a lot of nitrogen, adding high nitrogen content fertilizer like 21-0-0 or 16-6-12 is a no, no. The exception might be if the soil is nitrogen deficient; but the only way to know that is if you have a soil test done.