How to Pick Green Beans Properly; Tips for Harvest time.

Learn when and how to pick green beans. One way to know when you’ll be starting your green bean harvest is by checking the package when you plant. The package will tell you a maturity date.  This will give you a general idea of when you’ll need to be ready to start picking.  It might be about 60-70 days.  Each variety will have a different length of time to harvest. 

How do you tell if green beans are ready to be picked. 

The maturity date on the seed package will tell you approximately when to expect the harvest to begin. However that is but an estimate.

What you want to do is watch the beans.  And watch close.  As soon as you see tiny beans starting to form start checking every day.  Those beans grow quickly once they get started and a day or two is all that is needed. 

You want to pick you bean pods when they are young.  If you let the pods get more mature they start getting woody and unappealing.  I’d rather err on the side of younger than older.  

  • Young before the beans inside start bulging out.  
  • About 4-6 inches long depending on the variety.

The length of the pod is less telling than the thickness and smoothness.  Length can depend on variety. Some will be longer, some shorter.  But the thickness of the pod and bulging seeds inside are a sure indicator of readiness. 

Hand holding two green beans, one on the right is just right for harvest, thin and smooth, the one on the left is bumpy and a little overripe.
Bean on the right is ready, bean on the left is a little over ripe. I like to err on the side of underripe and get nice tender pods.

About the size of a pencil is what I always told my boys.   But watch for the bulging seeds inside.  If you let them mature the pod gets woody. I’d rather pick too small than wait until they are too large. 

How often should you pick green beans?  

Once you start pick everyday.  Every other day at the least.  Beans grow and mature quickly once it gets started.   Tiny little beans take only a day or two to grow to a harvestable size.  

Harvesting Green Beans: Keep looking!

Finding your green beans is the first obvious step.   That can be a challenge depending on the variety of beans you planted.  

Pole beans are known for easy picking.  They are growing up a trellis so you don’t have to get down on your knees to look.  However, you’ll still need to dig a bit.  

Lift the branches up, move things around.  Look again.  And then look one more time.  It’s like an easter egg hunt.

My vines are very thick, (tip don’t plant rows too close!). I even trimmed some leaves back to make it easier to find the beans.  But I’ll still have to move the branches around to find the beans hiding.  

Do green beans grow back after you pick them? 

No, the bean itself doesn’t grow back after you pick them. BUT the plant will produce more beans after it has been picked.  This is the reason for my suggestion to pick every day or every other day.  Get the beans off the plant before it has gotten too mature and the plant thinks it is done.  

The goal of the plant is to grow seed.  The more you pick the pods (with the bean seeds) off the vine, the more the plant will try to produce.  This is why you want to keep them picked regularly.

How do you pick green beans so they grow back.

Snap or cut the beans off the plant, being careful not to tear the plant. Hold the bean with one hand and pull downward works for me.  Occasionally I’ll have to grab the vine.   

What you want to do is pick the entire bean including the stem.  You can break the beans in a way that leaves the stem on the plant.  But I’m not certain that the plant won’t recognize that as being gone.  Remember we want that plant to want to create more beans.  So don’t leave the stem on the plant. 

On the other hand be careful and don’t break the branches off.  It happens to all of us sometimes.  But if you do break one off, just check that branch for any small beans and harvest them.  Toss the rest in the compost bin.  

How many times can you harvest green beans?  

This will depend on the variety.   Some beans will continue to produce all season long as long as you keep them picked.  Pole beans usually produce for longer, as long as you keep picking.  Some bush beans are like this too.  

However, other bush beans will come on all at once and then start to slow down production after a couple pickings.  If you’ve got a variety that tends to slow down quickly, plant them in succession.  So plant a couple rows then wait a week or two and plant a few more.  This way you can stagger your harvesting.   

Metal mixing bowl filled with fresh picked green beans.

How to Preserve Green Beans.  

Snap them and preserve asap.  Put them in the fridge if you need to wait for another day.  Same day canning or freezing is best. Or cook them up within a day or two.

Learn how to preserve them here. Canning, dehydrating, freezing, and pickling green beans.

Quick tip.  

Towards the end of the year, mark off some plants at the end of a row.  Stop picking those plants and allow the beans to fully mature on the plant.  Save those seeds to plant next year.  Super easy.  :). 

Pin this to find later!

How to pick green beans properly, bowl of green beans on top, hand holding fresh picked green beans on bottom, links to Pinterest

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One Comment

  1. Hi Shannon.

    In yesterday’s post you showed a picture of a SS colander and listed a link to get to them on Amazon. Repeated attemps won’t allow me to use the link, Could you please re-post a usable link for the Colander?


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