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Great Northern White beans are an American heirloom hailing from the Dakotas . The plants will generally reach 2 feet tall, producing pods containing up to 6 seeds each. The beans by themselves are close to tasteless but will absorb the flavors of what they are cooked with and add bulk and texture to many dishes.
Great Northern White beans should be direct seeded immediately after the last spring frost dates . The eye of the bean should be facing down.
If planted too early, you will have a very low germination rate, as many seeds will rot in the ground , particularly under damp conditions. Sow them about 1" deep , space them about 3 to 4 inches , rows should be spaced about 1 1/2 - 2 feet apart. You may have to thin out weaker seedlings later to attain 6 to 8 inch spacing between plants.
You can also start Great Northern White beans indoors in peat pots a few weeks weeks prior to transplanting outdoors. They frequently suffer from transplant shock - so hardening off is recommended, as well as taking care not to damage the root system when transplanting them.
Avoid High nitrogen fertilizers , Beans will provide their own nitrogen and excessive nitrogen will produce a lush foliage at the expense of the harvestable beans. Potassium and phosphorus fertilizers are best.
Great Northern beans typically require between 65-90 days of growth to attain full maturity and are cultivated as a dry bean only. There is no advantage to using them as a fresh or green bean.
Full sun is best, partial shade somewhat tolerable. Plant them in non compacted, loose, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter such as aged compost. Optimal soil pH is 6.0 to 6.8 . [See Tracking and Adjusting Soil pH ]
Before planting work in aged compost.
The soil should be uniformly moist, well drained, loose and non compacted. Seeds will frequently rot, crack or have a low germination rate if there is excessive soil moisture, particularly when sowing. Do not soak Bean seeds before planting , do not over-water after sowing bas is the practice with many other seeds, just maintain an evenly moist soil during flowering and pod formation. Overhead irrigation during flowering can cause flowers and small pods to fall off. Once the soil temperature averages greater than 60 degrees F, mulch to conserve moisture. Do not handle the beans when they are wet, as this may spread fungus spores.
Good Companion plants Cucumbers, Corn, Celery, potatoes, Pole beans, sunflowers. Do not plant beans with onions, garlic, beets, or kohlrabi. Rotate lima beans to spaces where lettuce, squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach or collards have been grown in the preceding year or two.
DISEASE & PEST PROBLEMS
They are susceptible to anthracnose, blight, and mosaic. Plant disease-resistant varieties. Keep the garden clean and free of debris. Avoid handling plants when they are wet so as not to spread fungal spores. If any of these have been a problem in the past plant disease resistant varieties. Proper sanitary practices are vital to the health of your garden. Proper sanitation can help to ensure disease-free and productive plants.
Common pests are aphids, Beetles, leaf-hoppers and mites.
Harvesting these beans is an continual process once they start to mature. You best time to harvest is when the beans the beans become firm and can be easily snapped. If you wait too long, they become fibrous and less desirable. Overripe beans still on the plant are also a drain on the plants development of more beans.