• Timing. Wait until nighttime temperatures remain at 55° or higher to plant.
• Preparation. Amend the top 6 to 8 inches of soil with compost or other organic matter.
• Planting. Sow seeds 1½ inches deep and 4 inches apart. Give pole beans like 'Ramdor' (shown above) a trellis or tepee to climb, or grow them against a wire fence; plant four to six seeds about 4 inches from each pole. After seedlings emerge, thin to the strongest three.
• Watering. Water well at planting time, then sparingly until seedlings sprout. After that, plants need about 1 inch of water a week, whether from nature or you.
• Feeding. Fertilize with fish emulsion every few weeks.
• Diseases. To discourage mildew and other maladies, avoid harvesting or handling plants when they're damp with dew or rain.
• Pests. Mexican beetles can be a problem in some areas. In that case, consider planting insectary plants like dill, radishes, or tansy, which attract natural predators.
• Harvesting. Gently pull ripe beans off clusters individually.