Bush beans in raised beds can be highly productive, given the right circumstances. A planting of bush beans in a 3 foot by 4 foot raised bed can produce upwards of 5 pounds of beans, and often much more than that.

To plant bush beans in a raised bed, first divide the bed into one-foot squares. Use the tip of the finger, a pencil, or the tip of a shovel to do so. These are not permanent divisions, but rather a guide for planting seeds. Poke 4 holes in each one-foot square. The holes should be between one-half inch and one inch deep-not too deep, but deep enough to cover the seeds completely. Place two seeds in each hole to ensure germination. It's highly unlikely all seeds will germinate, and what does germinate does not need to be thinned.

After 7-14 days, bean plants should begin popping up. In a 3 foot by 4 foot raised bed, this would mean approximately 48 bush bean plants. Given the correct water requirements and sunlight, the plants should begin to produce fruit in about 3 weeks or so.

Bush beans require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, and about one inch of water per week. Generally, in the right climate, the rain usually takes care of the watering requirement with no extra effort on the gardener's part. In case of long dry spells (which tend to occur in July or August) or very hot weather, be sure to water once or twice per week, especially if the bush bean plants are bearing fruit.

Once the beans are between 4 and 6 inches long and about the circumference of a pinky finger, begin picking them. Practice caution when picking beans, using both hands to ensure no damage is done to the plant in picking. If the plant becomes damaged (usually due to roughness while picking) the plant will not be as vigorous or productive. Depending on the extent of damage, the plant could cease production entirely. If care is practiced during picking, the plants will continue to flower and subsequently produce fruit for several weeks until the plants begin to die out.

When leaves on the bush beans in raised beds turn yellow and shrivel, it's time to dig them up. Just pull them up as if pulling weeds and either compost them or dig them into the soil within the raised bed. Then proceed to dig and rake in the raised bed to prepare it for the next planting.

For ideas after the green bean harvest, see "How to Can Green Beans at Home".

For an overview of other recommended plants to grow, see "Top 10 Vegetables for the Urban Garden".