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Beans: Bush, Pole, Snap, and Shell

Home » News from the Research Desk » Gardening » Beans: Bush, Pole, Snap, and Shell

The end of May is typically a great time to plant any type of bean in the northeast region of Illinois. Usually by this time, the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed sufficiently.

Generally, beans need to be grown in a location that receives full sun for at least 6 hours a day and can be grown successfully in most soil conditions. Successive plantings every 2-4 weeks until early August will provide a continuous harvest throughout the summer and early fall.


Plant seeds of all varieties one inch deep. Plant seeds of bush beans 2 to 4 inches apart in rows at least 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant seeds of pole beans 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart; or in hills (four to six seeds per hill) 30 inches apart, with 30 inches between rows.

University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow

Bush beans are the easiest to grow and the most common in home gardens. Pole beans must be supported so pods are off the ground and kept dry. There are many varieties that can be grown as green/snap beans and/or shell beans.

Beans are harvested in three different stages for cooking: they can be picked early when they are tender (green/snap beans); removed from fresh pods (shell beans); or left on the vine to dry (dried beans). Most bean varieties can be frozen and/or dried and stored for use throughout the year. Beans are a versatile vegetable and it’s no surprise that they are one of the most popular vegetables in home gardens.

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