Green (no)Beans

Can you have too much of a good thing?

Apparently so when it comes to rich compost.

Green beans are the only green vegetable that both of my sons like to eat. Yes, there are books and articles and advice swirling around the web that if you garden with your children, that they will grow up to love a multitude of vegetables. That’s not been the case here. (And don’t get me started on my son who doesn’t like the taste of eggs!)

In any event, I always set aside a good portion of the garden for the beans. Some years I grow a bush variety, and some years I plant climbing vines. I always have a good crop.

This year, the beans looked ever so promising.



It’s a jungle. Sadly, this lush plant hasn’t produced a single bean.

bean tower


I’m told that the beautiful dark compost that I added to the raised bed was too rich, and was too high in nitrogen, so that the plant put all of it’s energy into being suitable for Jack to climb, but not to make any beans.

The good thing about keeping goats is that they turn a gardening disaster into an enthusiastic eating party. Goats love, love, love green bean leaves.

eating beans


There’s plenty for both, but Pip never willingly shares.

head butt


I’ll be doling the bean vines out over the next week. Watch for expanding goat bellies.

(On a side-note, the black turtle beans did very well this year and I’ll be harvesting a good crop. I’ve no idea why one type of bean produced and another didn’t. What do you think?)

One disaster in the garden doesn’t mean that all is a loss. I rarely have success with brussels sprouts, but this year they are tall and sturdy. I guess that cabbage does well in rich compost.

brussel sprout


Usually my crucifers are spindly things and then the cabbage worms do them in. There are worms this year, but I’m keeping them in check by picking them off. (See it right in the center? Talk about camouflage!)

Cabbage worm


LIke the goats, the chickens make almost anything that happens in the garden seem like a success. A tomato half-eaten by a slug? Delicious! Wilted chard leaves? Divine! When they see me go to the vegetable patch, then head to their pen, they know that something good is coming their way. They love, love, love cabbage worms and hurry over to the fence in anticipation.


I have some very good garden helpers.


  1. My pole beans aren’t producing either! The plants look just like yours, with no sign of beans. I thought I was going nuts — thanks!

  2. I had 2 years of failure with both bush and pole beans. Didn’t know why. Maybe the same problem. Snow peas failed too. Generally, our soil is deficient in nitrogen, but I’ve been trying to improve it. Wrong?

  3. Great pictures of Caper (and Pip being Pip) — beautiful face. My gardening is limited to containers (no beans) which are going great guns this year. Love having my own herbs. And I empathize with your son who does not like eggs. My dirty little secret is that I don’t either except when they are flavored up enough to disguise the taste. Sorry.

  4. I never “forced” my children to eat things they didn’t like, but every time I served peas which my youngest son did not like, I would serve him 3 peas. He never ate them and to this day still won’t. You can lead a horse to water………

  5. My kids ate everything when they were little. Then puberty hit and they would eat nothing. My daughter eventually started eating veggies again when she hit college, but that hasn’t changed anything with my son. I remind him he used to sneak tomatoes off the bush and he shudders theatrically (eewww) and walks away.

  6. My garden was just pathetic this year. If we were farmers we would have starved. I am thinking the same thing happened..too rich soil. The plants looked great but no veggies…and the ANTS! OMG…I see a plant that look beautiful and I touch it and the whole thing falls over..the ants have eaten all the roots. So depressing!

  7. Honestly those goats make my day! Pip and Caper absolutely crack me up. Their zeal and joy of crisp, crunchy green bean leaves is written all over their cute little faces! And those chickens…have you ever seen such beautiful red combs?! Their sparkly eyes and shiny feathers are resplendent in the morning sunshine. Beautiful specimens indeed!

  8. I’ve heard rich soil isn’t necessarily good for every plant. I’m not a vegetable gardener, but I know nasturtium won’t bloom if the soil is too rich.

    You have some adorable walking garbage disposals on your property :-D

  9. Beans don’t need much nitrogen in the soil; they produce soil nitrogen from air by “fixing” it in a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria. I recommend using no fertilizer or manure and buying legume inoculant (available from any garden center in the Spring), and sprinkling it in the furrow prior to planting. The inoculant contains the bacteria that the beans need. Here’s an explanation from the web:

    “The main reason beans don’t need many nutrients is because they’re able to produce their own nitrogen. Like all legumes, beans have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria form nodules on the bean plants’ roots. The nodules convert nitrogen from the air into nitrogen compounds in the soil, making it accessible to beans, as well as other plants growing nearby. This process takes some time, especially if you’ve never grown beans in the area. To accelerate nitrogen fixing, dust the bean seeds with the bacterial inoculant Rhizobium phaseoli, which encourages bacterial growth.”

    • Yes I second the inoculate. Have been using for 3 years and big difference!

  10. a comment from another area – wisconsin – on the beans . . . . . this was the first year i’ve ever had anything like success and i used bean seed from several packages that must’ve been out of date to plant for years. and they have grown to become best plants in the garden. i have eaten beans until they just didn’t taste good anymore, then i froze a few zip-lock bags-full and now i’m letting the rest of them get big and fat on the vines and i guess i’ll save the seeds. however. . . the rest of the garden is sort of embarrassing. i have had 5 ripe tomatoes. now the vines are just sitting there. green, happy-looking but not doing anything about producing more than a few very green, small tomatoes and it’s ‘way past time they should be loaded w/ big red ones ready to eat.
    the peppers – one plant out of 6 is loaded w/ beautiful beg green sweet peppers – the others are bare
    brussels sprouts are crawling on the ground w/ baby sprouts on their stems. who can guess that outcome?

  11. Be aware that if you save seeds from plants that are hybrids, the seeds will not produce the same plant as the parent ….. who knows what you will get. The only seeds you can reliably save are for non-hybrid and heirloom varieties. The seed packages sometimes give you this info …. if not, go on the web.

  12. Mystery solved! I have a jungle of green bean vines. If they would have produced beans I would be giving them away by the bushel basket! Two rows are planted near the “new” chicken litter taken from the hen house this spring but another row is planed in a different part of the garden that hasn’t gotten any amending of any kind for several years. Lots of greenery but few beans. Blossoms all over the place. I compost right in the garden and move my garden from north to south and back again instead of moving the compost pile.
    Everything is slow and small. I am worried about having enough tomatoes to do anything with. This will be the second tomato disaster two years in a row. The basil, however, is growing in every spot I planted it. Anything that vines is not doing much either. On the other hand, the vines are so big, thick, taking over the whole garden, I will probably find some watermelon sized cucumbers and zucchini after it frosts. I plant pumpkins for winter feed treats for my chickens. They have produced but I should have way more of them than I do and the vines are dyeing already. If every blossom would have produced a fruit instead of falling off I’d be giving pumpkins, zucchini, and cucumbers away, too. The girls have eaten the green pumpkins that grew through the fence. I always throw some saved pumpkin seeds into the horse poop pile and they always produce pumpkins. Not this year. They produced vines and flowers. No pumpkins. If I were depending on my garden to feed me all winter, I’d starve. And the hens aren’t laying either!

  13. I had the problem with all green growth on my pole beans. Then a few weeks ago I saw the flowers and now I have the beans – lots and lots of beans. I used the innoculant powder and the compost had 2 to 3 yr. old chicken manure. At first because I had no beans, I thought the soil had too much nitrogen. But now all is well. We did not have any Japanese Beetles this year which can do major destruction to beans. We had a very long cold winter, cool spring and cool summer until today. Now, it’s in the 90’s and very humid and will continue through the week…not exactly what you want for picking beans.

    • I’m leaving up some of the bean plants hoping that they too will all of a sudden make beans. There are flowers. There’s hope!

  14. Terry, I see some flower blossom buds on your green beans. When you see those those buds, there will be beans. Hope it’s not too late to let them continue to grow.

    • I’m leaving some up just in case. But the temp was in the chilly 30s last night. I think we’ll be having an early frost. Not much left to this growing season.

  15. Catching up around here. Read this post and had to laugh. I had yellow beans and green beans (started from seed) in the same raised bed. I was loaded with yellow and the green have yet to give me ONE bean.