Bob Wildfong, Seeds of Diversity Executive Director | February 1, 2020
The "Provider" bean is one of Canada's favourite green beans. Widely grown by farmers and gardeners, it has a delicious flavour, long-keeping quality, and is reliably easy to grow. You can grow your own Provider beans in just a few square feet of sunny garden space, or even in a good-sized container.
Early green bean with heavy yield and fine flavour. Long pods hang in low clusters, which are easy to pick. Plants grow about 50 cm tall. Recommended for fresh eating or freezing, suited for home and market gardens. Maturity: 50 days from sowing.
We recommend that you grow Provider beans organically. The seeds we offer are certified organic, the same as those used by organic farmers.
Sow your seeds any time from the last week of May until the first week of July. You'll be able to start picking green beans about 7 weeks after you sow the seeds.
You can grow beans in any soil that has at least 4 hours of sunlight per day. Loose soil mixed with plenty of compost is best, and the more sun, the more beans you will get.
First loosen the soil with a shovel or hoe, remove any weeds, and smooth the soil flat. Push each seed into the ground with your thumb, up to the first knuckle (2-3 cm deep), and space the seeds the width of your hand (8-12 cm) apart. Water the soil well, and wait for the seeds to sprout in a few days.
Provider is a "bush bean" which means it doesn't need a trellis or pole. Just let the plants grow on their own. They will only grow knee high.
While the bean plants grow, remove any weeds that grow around them. The best way to tell which plants are beans, and which are weeds, is to plant the seeds in a straight row in the first place. It will be easy to spot the bean plants all lined up.
After about 5 weeks you'll see small flowers on the plants. Time to get ready, because that means the beans will be ready to pick in just a week or two! Provider beans are ripe when they are about 10-15 cm long.
Pick the pods carefully. They should break away with a gentle pull, but sometimes it's best to use two hands so the plant's stems don't break instead -- you'll want to keep the plant intact so it can grow more beans.
Pro tip: The more you pick, the more beans will grow! Harvest as often as you like, but at least once a week. Pick all the beans that are full-size (at least 10 cm long), but leave the smaller pods to grow. That will encourage the plants to constantly produce more beans throughout the summer.
Bean plants appreciate warm, moist soil and sunlight. If your beans are in full sun and there hasn't been rain for a week or two, make sure they get at least 1/2 a litre of water per plant every week. If you aren't sure whether to water, look for droopy leaves in the middle of the afternoon - a sign that the plants need a little water.
If you mixed compost into your soil before planting your beans, they probably won't need any extra fertilizer. Organic compost is a slow-releasing fertilizer that gives plants nutrients all season long. If you didn't add compost, it's never too late. Just put a 5 cm thick layer of compost on the ground around the beans, and gently rake it into the top of the soil. Water it well, and let the moisture steep those nutrients down to the roots. That will happen every time it rains too!
Beans have a few natural insect pests, but we rarely see them. In the city, especially, the main bean pest is rabbits. If you have rabbits nearby, a short cage or fence will usually protect your beans from them.
If you don't have space in a garden, you can grow Provider beans in a container. Choose one that is at least 25 cm deep and 20 cm wide per plant (larger is better) and fill it with rich soil mixed with lots of well-aged compost.
Sow seeds the same way as in a garden, and make sure to water the container often. Soil in containers dries out faster than in gardens, so it's a good idea to use extra compost for fertilizer and also to hold moisture. On the plus side, balcony gardens don't have rabbit problems!
We chose Provider beans for One Seed One Community because they're easy to grow, and also because they're versatile and delicious.
To cook your fresh green beans to perfection, just boil or steam them for about 5 minutes (or a little longer if you like them softer). Top them with your favourite dressing, or just enjoy them plain and steaming fresh from the pot.
Storing Fresh Beans
Too many beans? Sometimes you just can't eat them fast enough. Fresh green beans keep their flavour when they're cold. Store them in the fridge in a plastic bag so they don't dry out. Try to eat them within a week though, so they don't spoil.
Storing in the Freezer
Way too many beans? You can freeze your surplus harvest to eat them year-round. Green beans freeze best if they are "blanched" first. Trim the ends, and put them in a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove them and when they're cool enough to handle, pack in freezer containers or plastic bags. The blanching pre-cooks the beans so they keep a nice texture when they thaw. Once frozen, green beans can last for many months until you choose to enjoy your harvest again.