silylily
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Help with pole beans.

Hello, I am gardening in South Jersey and as you can see from the attached picture my pole beans are not doing so well. This is my first year gardening and I'm also growing tomatos, lettuce, kale and strawberries all of which are thriving. They are all planted in 12" deep raised boxes with a screened topsoil/leaf compost mix. I have not added anything to amend the soil or treat the plants. The beans started out great and until about two weeks ago seemed to be doing fine. Then as I was expecting blossoms the bottom leaves started to turn yellow and fall off. Since then it has slowly progressed upwards and where I couldn't see through them before now I can see inside so the overall foliage has thinned out. The top is still green and growing but the bottom seems to be sick. I did start late in the season-the beginning of June but I would think by now I would have blooms. I got a soil tester and the ph is around 8 which seems high from what I've read. Am I right that something is wrong and if so is it too late to try to fix?
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applestar
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Re: Help with pole beans.

Did you say there are tomatoes in there with the beans because I couldn't see them....


I'm thinking it's the landscaping fabric. I suspect you used it to line the bottom, yes?

By now the beans probably have FILLED the available space with roots. If there was no barrier, the roots would have grown down, out, and below the surrounding grass roots which are shallower.

Depending on where you are in NJ, you would have been getting plenty or rain or have been starting to feel the drought coupled with the heatwave. (I'm in the area storm clouds go AROUND, raining everywhere else BUT here :roll: ) If you have not been watering deeply, the surrounding grass would have sucked up all the available moisture on the upper level.

PH -- 8 seems high but I think beans can handle somewhat higher pH in the range. You could try mulching with pine needles, crushed pine cones or pine bark. The mulch will also help maintain the soil moisture.

My pole beans start to yellow from the bottom, too, and get spotty -- some kind of fungal issues that I haven't bothered to ID, because this happens slowly and the upper growth outruns the lower leaf loss. I do spray with milk solution along with other stuff if I have extra.

...btw... Mine have only recently started to bloom -- maybe just in the last week. We had a weird cold snap in the beginning of June that delayed them I think.
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imafan26
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Re: Help with pole beans.

I'm thinking more like they need nitrogen. The yellowing from the bottom and the pale color of the leaves remind me of that. It could also be over watering.

Although legumes can form associations with nitrogen fixing bacteria, they have to be present around the root zone when the plants are very young, otherwise no nitrogen fixing nodules will be present. Beans are actually heavy feeders of nitrogen if they don't have nodules.

A pH of 8 will make some miconutrients less available. Nitrogen is usually not affected much but can be if you have a plant that has a high nitrogen demand like beans. The lower leaves will yellow as the plant tries to mitigate the deficiency by mobilizing nitrogen from the lower leaves to supply the new growth. If the deficiency is more severe then gradually all of the leaves will yellow.

Organic matter usually helps to mitigate the pH so that the soil will behave more neutral. That being said, it was probably the organic matter that caused the alkaline conditions to start with. I do not like to plant in so much compost. I prefer no more than 20% by volume, otherwise I have issues with it holdig too much water for too longs.

Other people do not have problems with, so it may be because I water too much.

Rather than try to change the pH which will take some time to do anyway you can foliar spray the beans to boost the micro nutrient uptake. If you are not set on an organic solution, MG for acid loving plants should help. It is an acid fertilizer and contains some sulfur as well micro nutrients. It is best to spray early in the morning when the stomata are open under the leaves. The water soluble fertilizer should be able to be taken up, as long as the roots are healthy.

If it has been raining a lot, your soil may be holding onto too much water and that is drowning the roots.
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Peter1142
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Re: Help with pole beans.

I agree, looks like nitrogen deficiency.
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GardeningCook
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Re: Help with pole beans.

Soil is looking quite a bit on the dry side.
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silylily
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Re: Help with pole beans.

Hello,
The landscaping fabric is only on the top layer but I did put down some cardboard to kill the grass :/ Maybe that has the same effect? My friend keeps telling me it's ok and they will produce it's just because I got a late start but I'm just worried. Maybe I'm jumping the gun and they'll be ok.
Thanks
applestar wrote:Did you say there are tomatoes in there with the beans because I couldn't see them....


I'm thinking it's the landscaping fabric. I suspect you used it to line the bottom, yes?

By now the beans probably have FILLED the available space with roots. If there was no barrier, the roots would have grown down, out, and below the surrounding grass roots which are shallower.

Depending on where you are in NJ, you would have been getting plenty or rain or have been starting to feel the drought coupled with the heatwave. (I'm in the area storm clouds go AROUND, raining everywhere else BUT here :roll: ) If you have not been watering deeply, the surrounding grass would have sucked up all the available moisture on the upper level.

PH -- 8 seems high but I think beans can handle somewhat higher pH in the range. You could try mulching with pine needles, crushed pine cones or pine bark. The mulch will also help maintain the soil moisture.

My pole beans start to yellow from the bottom, too, and get spotty -- some kind of fungal issues that I haven't bothered to ID, because this happens slowly and the upper growth outruns the lower leaf loss. I do spray with milk solution along with other stuff if I have extra.

...btw... Mine have only recently started to bloom -- maybe just in the last week. We had a weird cold snap in the beginning of June that delayed them I think.

silylily
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Joined: Mon May 25, 2015 2:29 am

Re: Help with pole beans.

It is dry on top but when I put in a moisture probe it's registers wet. We've been getting a LOT of rain.
GardeningCook wrote:Soil is looking quite a bit on the dry side.

silylily
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Re: Help with pole beans.

Thank you, that is some great information, I will try the MG and yes it has been raining a lot and very consistently-I've been worried they had too much moisture.

Although legumes can form associations with nitrogen fixing bacteria, they have to be present around the root zone when the plants are very young, otherwise no nitrogen fixing nodules will be present. Beans are actually heavy feeders of nitrogen if they don't have nodules.

A pH of 8 will make some miconutrients less available. Nitrogen is usually not affected much but can be if you have a plant that has a high nitrogen demand like beans. The lower leaves will yellow as the plant tries to mitigate the deficiency by mobilizing nitrogen from the lower leaves to supply the new growth. If the deficiency is more severe then gradually all of the leaves will yellow.

Organic matter usually helps to mitigate the pH so that the soil will behave more neutral. That being said, it was probably the organic matter that caused the alkaline conditions to start with. I do not like to plant in so much compost. I prefer no more than 20% by volume, otherwise I have issues with it holdig too much water for too longs.

Other people do not have problems with, so it may be because I water too much.

Rather than try to change the pH which will take some time to do anyway you can foliar spray the beans to boost the micro nutrient uptake. If you are not set on an organic solution, MG for acid loving plants should help. It is an acid fertilizer and contains some sulfur as well micro nutrients. It is best to spray early in the morning when the stomata are open under the leaves. The water soluble fertilizer should be able to be taken up, as long as the roots are healthy.

If it has been raining a lot, your soil may be holding onto too much water and that is drowning the roots.[/quote]

imafan26
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Re: Help with pole beans.

Landscape fabric has its plusses and minuses. It does keep down weeds, but it can make watering challenging. It is actually hard to water through fabric mulch. Especially as I found out the hard way, landscape fabric has a top and bottom and I put it down with the wrong side up so the water pooled on top instead of going down.

If your soil is wet the landscape fabric will slow the drying of the soil which is a problem when it is too wet to start with.

I would use mulch instead next time. Straw is good (not hay). It is easier to remove it if you need to dry the soil out and eventually it will break down. Fabric mulch will shred but you just get pieces everywhere for years.

If you forked the bottom of the bed the raised bed should be able to drain. Even if you used cardboard, it will eventually compost away. If the raised bed was sited in a low spot in the yard to start with, then when it rains a lot, water will pool by the bed. Raising the bed higher will help next time. As the grass dries out, it will start to wick water away from the bed but it depends on how saturated the soil is.
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applestar
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Re: Help with pole beans.

Lucky you that you HAVE been getting rain -- not here, though we did get a little bit -- may be for an hour last night.

If you used cardboard As base to smother weeds and grass -- which is an excellent method and I do it all the time -- but planted within less than a month afterwards, the cardboard may not have broken down sufficiently. If the bean roots hit the cardboard, then they will be in a zone where Nitrogen deficiency is occurring because the bacteria etc are using it up.

So basically yes, nitrogen deficient and yes, fertilizing will help.

If you didn't use bean inoculant, you could also water some in -- dig a little trench a little way away from the bean stems, swirl the inoculant in a bucket of rainwater and pour into the trench while the inoculant is still in suspension, then cover with soil and mulch.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

silylily
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Re: Help with pole beans.

Thank you!
applestar wrote:Lucky you that you HAVE been getting rain -- not here, though we did get a little bit -- may be for an hour last night.

If you used cardboard As base to smother weeds and grass -- which is an excellent method and I do it all the time -- but planted within less than a month afterwards, the cardboard may not have broken down sufficiently. If the bean roots hit the cardboard, then they will be in a zone where Nitrogen deficiency is occurring because the bacteria etc are using it up.

So basically yes, nitrogen deficient and yes, fertilizing will help.

If you didn't use bean inoculant, you could also water some in -- dig a little trench a little way away from the bean stems, swirl the inoculant in a bucket of rainwater and pour into the trench while the inoculant is still in suspension, then cover with soil and mulch.

silylily
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Re: Help with pole beans.

Sooo, I have a blossom! One, and it's near the top, but that gives me hope. I did appreciate and take everyone's advice and got some nitrogen fertilizer so maybe I will have some beans after all. Thanks! I will update as it progresses! :D

lexusnexus
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Re: Help with pole beans.

No need to add nitrogen fertilizer. Beans trap nitrogen from the air, and it won't help. The soil should be loose. If what you have are some bottom leaves turning yellow this is normal. No leaves last from the start of the season to end, you will lose the bottom ones first. You did say that the plants are still growing, a healthy sign. The plants will go through surges of production so sometimes there will be more beans than others.
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jal_ut
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Re: Help with pole beans.

Hmmm, I did not see that you mentioned any bottom in the box. Is there a bottom in the box? Be aware that plant roots will go quite deep up to 5 feet or more. I think it is a good idea if planting in a box to not put a bottom in the box and give the roots the option to go deep.

If there is a bottom in your box, I am going to suggest that the roots are severely restricted, hence the problems you see.

Oh, sorry, in reading back you did mention cardboard on the bottom. Ya, that is a good root barrier.
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