Kentucky Wonder Brown is an heirloom developed in Kentucky before 1864. This is the brown-seeded strain of a very popular pole bean and is well-loved for its vigor and fine bean flavour. Expect large clusters of round, curved, 18-25cm (7-10") long silvery-green, fleshy pods. These are virtually stringless with a distinctive flavour. The vines are particularly tall, so provide adequate support for climbing. Kentucky Wonder Brown bean seeds sprout better in cool soils, so they can be planted a little earlier than other pole bean seeds. These beans are well loved for fresh eating, but also because they freeze nicely for storage and winter use.
Matures in 70 days. (Open-pollinated seeds)
Many people feel that pole beans have a richer bean flavour than bush beans. The effort of trellising them is more than repaid by the ease of picking and their extended, abundant harvest. Pole beans are a good choice for small gardens because they use vertical space. Continue reading below for tips on how to grow pole beans from seed.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm Season
Direct sow from late spring to early summer. Try to plant during a warm, dry spell. Soil must be warm – if it is not warm enough, seeds may rot, especially our untreated seeds. Optimal soil temperature: 21-32°C (70-90°F).
Seeds can be started indoors, or sowed directly. Set seeds 7-10cm (3-4″) apart and 3.5cm (1½”) deep at the base of a support. Plants will climb by twining around almost anything. Try rough poles, lumber, re-bar, or build a strong trellis 2-2.5m (6-8′) tall. Seeds will sprout in 8-16 days, depending on soil conditions.
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.5. Well drained, warm soil in full sun is best. Use 1 cup of balanced organic fertilizer for every 3m (10′) of row. Too much nitrogen in fertilizer or manure is often the cause of poor pod set and delayed maturity. If beans flower but do not set pods, the cause can be zinc deficiency. Try spraying the plants with kelp based fertilizer. Wet leaves on crowded plants are subject to diseases. Thin plants to increase air circulation and avoid touching the leaves while they are wet.
Because pole beans are always climbing, there are always beans at different stages of maturity. It is important to keep picking regularly so the plant does not fully mature seeds and stop producing new pods. If pods get fat with seed, the plant will stop flowering. The smaller the bean, the more tender they are.
In optimal conditions at least 75% of seeds should germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 400 seeds. Per acre: 43.5M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
If beans flower but do not set pods, the cause can be a zinc deficiency. Try spraying the plants with Kelpman. Wet leaves on crowded plants are subject to diseases. Thin plants to increase air circulation and try not to touch the plants while they are wet.
Beans fix nitrogen in the soil. Plant with Brassicas, carrots, celery, chard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, peas, potatoes, radish, and strawberries. Avoid planting near chives, garlic, leeks, and onions. Pole beans and beets stunt each other’s growth.
More on Companion Planting.