Pole green beans vs. bush green beans – on which side do you fall? When I first started gardening, I grew bush beans like everyone else, it seemed. But one year I also wanted a pretty bean tee-pee in one bed, so I grew some pole beans. Oh wow, was I in the dark about pole beans – especially tender, wonderful filet green beans! Here are a few things I learned in my unplanned experiment:
Why to Grow Pole Green Beans vs. Bush
- Pole beans are easier to harvest than bush beans. With bush beans you have to bend over, man-handle the plant (sometimes pulling it up mistakenly), all in the effort to find those beans. Once pole beans grow, it’s just a matter of standing and picking them conveniently at your waist to head level.
- Many types of bush beans produce for only a short period, requiring succession sowings to get beans over a whole growing season. Poles take a bit longer to get going, but they produce (mostly) for a whole season.
- Bush beans are often a lot dirtier than pole beans (most of the time I don’t even have to wash pole beans before freezing without blanching).
So now I plant mostly pole beans, with just 3-5 bush beans to harvest earlier beans. And my favorite variety to grow is Emerite pole beans, by far. I’ve grown them since discovering them years ago, even though it seems harder each year to find seed companies that carry them (I’ve tried to keep a few each year to replant, but we eat most of them into the fall, so it’s hard to remember to let some grow to seed-saving stage!).
And this is a mystery to me- why don’t more people grow these beans? I’ve tried many others, including the “popular” Kentucky and Blue Lake (and Kentucky Blue cross) varieties, but I’ve found them to be stringy and tough with inconsistent production, at least where I live.
I sure don’t want to keep this wonderful bean a secret and I’d love to have more people growing it, so I thought I’d do my part and share with you the reasons why I love Emerite pole beans and where you can find seed if you’d like to try them. Update: since the original publish date of this article, I’ve found another pole bean to grow alongside Emerite that produces during Emerite’s ‘down time’ when it’s hot – Fortex. It’s also a filet-type bean, though it grows much longer than Emerite. I will include where to buy it as well.
6 Reasons to Grow Emerite (& Fortex!) Pole Green Beans
1. The are a “filet” type bean- but unlike the small bush types you may be used to, these beans can be picked at all stages– the 4-inch thin filet style (which is great at the beginning of the season when you can’t wait for the first beans!), all the way up to a mature 7 to 8-inch round bean.
2. Because they are a filet, they are never stringy or tough– even when they’ve been left to mature to a large bean. Never.
3. They produce a lot during the main season. This year my 10-foot row has produced enough for us to eat tons of fresh and still have 10 quart bags in the freezer for the winter.
4. Emerite may slow down after the large main harvest, even losing a lot of leaves in the hot last days of August- but don’t give up on them! As soon as the weather turns “fall-ish” with cooler temps and some rain, they will start leafing out again and producing flowers and beans- all the way until the first frost. All those beans pictured above were harvested at the beginning of October. Fortex produces through warmer weather, but doesn’t produce as long as Emerite, making them perfect to grow together!
And I LOVE eating fresh green beans in October!
The bush beans? They are gone. Done for. Outta here.
Looking at the bush beans pictured above highlights again what I mentioned previously which isn’t limited to a variety, but all pole beans:
5. They are so much easier to pick than bush beans! Umm, do you like to hunch over, struggling to find the ripe beans on a 2-foot tall plant- often damaging the plant in the process – or stand up and pluck the beans you can easily see are ready and hanging almost at eye level? That’s a no-brainer for me, especially with my creaky back.
6. You only have to plant pole beans once. No succession planting is needed like with bush beans. It’s true that poles take a little longer to start producing, so I do plant a few bush beans, like I mentioned, at the same time to give us the earliest harvest, but there’s just no comparison to the longevity of pole beans.
Have I convinced you to grow some yet?
Here are a few of the places I’ve found that sell Emerite seed:
And here’s where you can find our other favorite pole bean, Fortex:
- Hinterland Trading on Amazon (read the good Fortex reviews)
- Pinetree Garden Seeds
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Let me know what you think! Are you a bush or pole bean lover?
Note: This was originally published in October of 2011. It has been updated with new photos, pinnable image to help you remember where you saw this, newer formatting and information.
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