The Way Pap Grows Greenbeans

If I had to pick one thing Pap grows better than anyone else it’d be greenbeans. White-half-runners is the choice bean for Pap and Granny and they grow tons of them every summer. Granny cans well over a 100 quarts every year and they eat them all.

I took this photo a few weeks ago, you can see the method Pap uses to string up his beans. I think the method is the secret to why his beans always do so well.

On each end of every bean row Pap places a pole in the ground. His are about 8ft long-you could use a log from the woods, a metal stake, or what ever you have on hand. Pap’s may seem like over kill, but his bean rows are about 75 feet long so he needs something sturdy.

Pap’s poles are buried about 18 inches deep in the ground.

Between each set of posts Pap runs 2 lengths of tie wire. One runs about 6 to 8 inches off the ground between 2 poles. The other about 4 to 5 feet above the first wire. If your poles/rows are a lot smaller you may need to adjust the placement of the wire.

Pap then takes sea grass (twine would work too) and ties it to one of the posts; then starting on the bottom wire he loops the string around the bottom wire-and over the top wire. He continues looping the twine under and over the wires forming Ws down the length of the wires till he reaches the other pole at the end of the row-he then ties the twine off to that pole. The Ws need to be loose if you make them too tight once the greenbeans start running they’ll pull the whole thing together in a big bunch. Pap adds a few extra poles for support down the length of each row. He cuts a small sapling from the near by woods and ties it to the top and bottom wire not worrying too much about burying it in the ground.

As the beans began to run you can help them find the twine, but it’s really not necessary most of the time they’ll find it themselves.

Before you know it the beans will climb to the top wire and by the end of the summer you’ll be walking between 2 lush walls of green when you go to the garden for a mess of fresh greenbeans.

Pap says when he was a boy they grew beans in the corn, letting the vines run up the stalks, but Granny likes greenbeans so much that method didn’t make enough to please her.




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  • Reply
    July 6, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    I grew up on white half and to this day they are still my favorite bean. but last few years they have started turning flat. any advice why this is happening thanks for any help

    • Reply
      Keith Hawn
      August 18, 2020 at 9:25 pm

      Look up Bill Best heirloom bean seeds on YouTube. He explains why this is happening. I was having the same problem but after buying seed from him I an enjoying the true white 1/2 runner with wonderful results for the past 2 years. . Highly recommend these seeds. Saving my on now.

  • Reply
    Jeri Whittaker
    August 12, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Oh my word! I can’t believe I accidently landed on this wonderful site!
    My paternal grand mother, grandma Mattie, grew only White Half-Runners!
    Needless to say, these beans continue to be my favorite. Since I’m older I freeze these delicious little jewels. My sisters and I drive up to northeast
    Georgia and buy a bushel each year. A bushel last the three of us just
    about a full year.
    My late husband and I grew white half runners in our big garden and we used
    Cattle panels for the beans to climb on. Thank you for some very sweet
    memories. Keep up the great work! We live near Athens, Ga. But we were
    born in Gilmer county!

    • Reply
      Tanya Killen Singletary
      February 26, 2020 at 3:16 pm

      White half runner is the only green beans we plant. I am originally from Pound, VA and now live in NE Florida and we plant and can these! We make teepees out of bamboo poles for them to grow on. We will plant ours March 1st!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2013 at 4:09 am

    Love using bamboo poles in “X” fashion, top rails of bamboo and zip ties. Fast to tap into the ground and strong with zip ties. Our kentucky wonder pole beans and indeterminate tomatoes do well. But hey, I want to plant some other types of green beans with less plant, like your Granny likes. Great site, enjoy it!

  • Reply
    Tim Lee
    July 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Hey, I just went to the garden this early afternoon and picked a half peck of turkey crawl greasy beans and the Mrs cooked them with fresh bi-color sweet corn. I here to tell you there is nun better. Seeds bought in Gate City, Va and grown here in Waynesville, Ohio. I rolled several cattle panels to create a 40foot bean tunnel. A great way to pick them.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    whoah this weblog is wonderful i love studying your articles.
    Keep up the good work! You already know, a lot of persons are hunting round
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  • Reply
    July 8, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Deatra-My guess is-the weather conditions or the soil is causing the flat tough beans. We’ve had hardly any rain this summer-and when that happens we have more flat tough beans that don’t fill out like they should.
    Thanks for the comment!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Deatra Bureau
    July 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    What is the best way to eliminate the flat, tough beans that invade the White Half runner crop?

  • Reply
    June 20, 2011 at 9:35 am

    We did ours that way one year.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Sassy-no its not a pole bean-it’s called a ‘runner’ bean. Thanks for the comment!!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    June 17, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Jim-thank you for the comment! Pap doesn’t save his seed-he buys white half runner seeds each spring from a local feed store. I agree with you-packsaddles HURT!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    June 17, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Paula-Thank you for the comment! No we don’t put mulch on Pap’s big garden-I sometimes try to put leaves or mulch around my little garden at home-just cause my soil is so red clay : ) And we don’t water the big garden either. We’ve been lucky this year after a dry start-we’ve now been getting rain at least every few evenings.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    June 17, 2011 at 5:30 am

    I haven’t heard the words “sea grass” in many a day, many a day!Memories!! My family only grew white half-runners without any kind of staking, etc. Since our garden consists of one lone tomato plant, I miss “real” green beans. We buy Allen’s brand — how I miss the “real” thing. My best friend lives right outside of Nashville, and she drives back home to Erwin, TN (waaay up in NE TN) every year to get her Turkey Craw beans every year to can. And they are NOT inexpensive. Plus, she calls the lil market and “reserves” her beans before they sell out– turkey craw beans are in high demand there.

  • Reply
    janet pressley
    June 17, 2011 at 2:34 am

    I love green beans cooked up right. I guess we call them greasy beans done up right. With mashed potatoes. Nana

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    June 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    That looks like a great method. I usually wimp out and just grow bush beans.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I use the bush beans, but now I want to try some climbers! Looks like a quick way to trellis them. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    June 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    That looks a bit like my garden, our pole beans are set up pretty much the same, Hubby uses 4X3 mill culls for his posts, then we wire at top and bottom and use baler twine for the plants to climb. I plant blue lake, because we like the flavor.
    Granny Shipman always planted the beans with the corn as mentioned above, with squash or pumpkins between the corn stalks. She said the pumpkin/squash would shade out the weeds in the row.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    We haven’t planted green beans in a couple of years now. We used to grow Kentucky Wonders for snap beans and then leave the rest for shelling. Their my favorite shelled bean. Fixing a trellis for them to grow on was always a chore, but this looks easy. Maybe next year we’ll try it. Thanks!!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I love his bean staking!
    We ate our last jar of lat years canning last night. Lucky for us, ours should be ready about Saturday for the first picking!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Last year Pap gave me some needed
    information about my beans while
    visiting. He told me to add more
    support poles cause I only had 4
    to a row. I’m so glad I listened
    to him, those things get so heavy
    by the time they reach the top.
    In the evenings after sundown I’ll
    be staking cause the runners are
    18″ or better already. Nice post
    and very clean garden, lots of
    work going on there…Ken

  • Reply
    Barbara Johnson
    June 16, 2011 at 11:22 am

    My Dad always puts them near the corn and they grow up the cornstalk…works for him every time.

  • Reply
    Shirley Owens
    June 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Tipper, Thanks so much for the instructions and pictures on the green beans. I’ve been trying to remember all the particulars about them, but was missing a step or two. Also, the pictures help me show my husband who doesn’t have a clue! Snap beans to him and his family are bush beans which are good but not White Half Runners. I hope next year I can reach my goal of 100 quarts too. Only got to 30 this year. Also, seems to me that runners are easier on older folks, ’cause you don’t have to get down, bend down or crawl around. They are delicious, too. I wonder could I dry some for Leather Britches?
    Thanks so much for your blog, Shirley in the HOT Florida Panhandle.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 16, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Beans we’ve grown with success here in E.TN…
    White half-runners, Dwarf horticultural (shelly) beans, Kentucky Wonders (stringy climbers), Giant Speckled beans (climber), Blue Lake (bush and climbers)used mainly for pickled beans no strings, Turkey Craw (hierloom bean given to us by a friend),Roma (bush) good flavor flat bean…Also Fordhook limas, large and small, Field peas, green peas Sugar Snaps, Thomas Laxton, etc..favorite Sugar Snap!
    Sure miss all those beans, but not the work canning when the kids were little..Ha..I could eat a whole jar of pickled green beans right this minute…
    I wonder if folks would list some of their best flavored and successful beans they’ve grown in zone 7..and growing tips??
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Purty, purty, purty….just like the Cardnial sings…Paps green beans are purty!
    “He goes to all this work so let us just grow right up them strings”, they say!
    We never stung white half runners in our small raised beds..plant two rows about 6″ apart and let them grow on to each other..Picking is harder but the close rows support each other..I wouldn’t want to do that in long rows it would be a back breaker! When we had our large garden years ago. We planted Kentucky wonders and strung them or used cane teepees…We grew a lot of bush Blue Lakes for pickled beans since they make uniform long straight beans…We grow mostly Roma (flat beans) nowdays…but you can’t beat white half-runners for flavorful beans…I would can Shelly beans and White half runners together..yumm…and have you ever laid okra pods on top the beans before they finish cooking…yummm! I understand some people can’t take the slimy of boiled Okra..Ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    June 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    That is the way I always stake my cornfield beans, I didn’t know that half-runners also grow well that way. Do you water your garden or put mulch on plants? It really looks clean.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    My garden is dinky in comparison and I only have room for about 10 bean plants. The beans are planted in a raised bed with black plastic mesh surrounding the bed. The beans climb up the mesh fence. I will plant beans in another area next year and use Pap’s method.

  • Reply
    Shirley Denton
    June 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Greenbeans are a favorite around here, and half-runners are by far the most popular. I usually plant corn specifically for the beans to climb on, and I use some Heirloom pole varieties and some handed down from my Grandfather. They also grow well on those metal tomato cylinders. One year I really got carried away as I had a couple of bushes that were ugly due to extensive pruning. I planted beans all around them which made them look much better, and they were loaded with beans. One of my non gardner friends asked about the strange looking bush! I always plant several rows of Parker half-runners. Anymore, I just freeze the beans as it seems faster for me. I am not brave enough to try Pap’s method, but it sure looks like a great idea. Thanks Tipper as none of my family is interested in this type of thing. This gives me the opportunity to read about and share the things I love most. I have gained so much knowledge from this site.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    June 16, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Sadly, we don’t have a garden here in Michigan. We live in the woods – which has its very own charms. So, we go to farmers’ markets and buy from the local farmers.
    I did see this same method used here. They did something similar for maters. They had the poles with heavy wire running between the tops (think they used eye bolts). Then they ran twine down to the tomato and wrapped it around the stem (they put soft rubber hosing on the part of the twine that contacted the stem. As the tomato grows, they would cut the twine from around the stem, replace the hosing and move it up to hold the main stem vertical. Seemed to work. (Also seems like a lot of trouble if you have lots of vines.)

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 16, 2011 at 9:23 am

    That is really a neat way to support the beans. My grandmother used to plant them in the corn and of course the corn will eat you alive while you pick the beans.
    Pap’s way keeps them out of the dirt and up where you can pick them without breaking your back.
    Good job Pap!!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 16, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Tipper–I’m curious, is Pap raising greasy beans (so-called not because they are greasy but because of the slick appearance of the beans)? I assume that is the case since that’s a traditional mountain type of white half-runner. Also, does he save his own seed?
    I well remember planting beans with corn and letting the corn stalks serve as climbing posts. The biggest problem wasn’t production but gathering beans from the stalks as they began to dry. They were an ideal home for packsaddles, and for any readers who don’t know what a packsaddle is, be thankful. They are the stinging spawn of Beelzebub!
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    June 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

    I’ve only grown bush beans so far. I’m not a well seasoned gardner so excuse me for asking… Is the green bean your Gramps grows concidered a pole bean?
    Pole bean is the other seed I have and if it can be grown like you showed then I will definitely give it a try.
    Thank you Tipper for the info.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Thanks for posting this, Tipper. I have an old fence that I let the green beans run up, but I’ve been thinking of making a longer row and this would be perfect.
    Will you be posting how Granny cans and cooks her greenbeans?

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    June 16, 2011 at 7:57 am

    My mom swore by white half-runners and wouldn’t plant anything else. I usually plant rattlesnake beans; they seem to do better here. We make teepees out of six poles and tie them at the top for our beans. Our dog loves to get in the middle of them!

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