A front porch is an altar to hospitality and an alcove for peace. Chat with neighborhood passersby from its perch, or retreat into a corner for seclusion from the goings-on in and around you. Either way, a porch-rail trellis of green beans can facilitate your motives.
Green beans are versatile veggies, suitable for munching raw, steaming, sautéing, boiling, or stir-frying. And a front porch is the perfect location to grow them. A porch’s height accommodates these voracious sky-reaching growers, and its accessibility allows for easy maintenance and picking.
Make the harvesting a family affair, and spread the love by sharing fistfuls with your friends and neighbors.
- Trellis twine
- Three stakes to support twine
- Two eyelet screws
- Snap (green) bean seeds
Build your trellis on one side of the porch, preferably south-facing. Be sure the area receives at least six hours of full sun each day.
Loop twine around a stake, and place the stake into the ground. Screw in the eyelets, being mindful of equidistant spacing, at the top of your porch. Loop twine up through the screws and back down into the stakes, forming an M-shape with four strings. This arrangement also allows for proper aeration. Be sure you have room to harvest the beans from both sides. “You can create a nice little natural wall with about three to four strings between the stakes and eyelets at the top of the porch,” says Spice’s Ben Bebenroth.
Plant two to four seeds at the base of each pole, in front of the trellis. Seeds should be planted four inches apart. “The plants initially will need to be trained to wind around the trellis. Then, just let them go. They’ll keep reaching as long as they’re fruiting,” Ben says. “But be careful. If your porch faces east, the plant will constantly reach south to get that full sunlight.”
Pole beans are ready for picking after 75 days. Harvest frequently; green beans picked even a day late will be fibrous and tough. Refrigerate them if they are not cooked immediately. Dry beans can be harvested when the pods dry up. “We roll them with our hands on the ground, pick out the beans, then throw them in storage containers,” Ben says. “We use them to make stew or cassoulet over the winter.”
Quick-Pickled Green Beans
Spice Kitchen + Bar chef Josh Woo, who’s a fan of pickled veggies, offers this recipe for putting an abundant yield to good, long-lasting use.
2 pounds cleaned beans
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 bay leafs
1 teaspoon turmeric
Boil everything but the beans until the sugar melts. Place the beans in a heat-proof container and cover with the pickling liquid. Make sure the beans are submerged. Place in the refrigerator for a few days. Serve with cured meats and cheese.
“This is a great recipe for excess harvest,” Woo says.