Ultimate Guide to Growing Beans in Melbourne

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
October 15, 2023
Growing Beans

Melbourne’s unpredictable weather might be a challenge for some, but beans? They thrive here. These adaptable plants offer delicious pods for our meals and enrich our soil with their nitrogen-fixing abilities. 

Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a budding gardener, beans are a rewarding choice for any Melbourne backyard. Their versatility ensures a variety suited for every season in our city. Dive in with us as we explore the joys of growing beans in Melbourne, blending our personal experiences with expert tips. 

Is Melbourne’s climate suitable for growing beans?

Absolutely, and here’s why. Melbourne boasts a temperate maritime climate with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. This climate, while sometimes unpredictable, offers a range of growing conditions throughout the year. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, our city experiences average temperatures ranging from 6°C in winter to 25°C in summer, with rainfall spread fairly evenly across months.

When discussing ideal bean-growing conditions, beans typically favour warm and well-drained soil with good sunlight. Melbourne’s summer months align perfectly with this, making it a prime time for bean cultivation. However, it’s not just about temperature. The consistent rainfall, especially during spring and autumn, aids in keeping the soil moist, a condition that beans appreciate.

For those keen on understanding the broader spectrum of plants suitable for our climate, look at our guide on what to plant now in Melbourne. It’s a treasure trove of insights, ensuring your garden thrives year-round.

Bean varieties to consider for Melbourne growing

Melbourne’s unique climate offers gardeners a chance to experiment with various beans. Over the years, certain varieties have stood out, becoming favourites in many local gardens. Here’s a rundown of some top performers:

Climbing beans

Climbing beans

  • Blue Lake: A classic choice, these beans produce tender, stringless pods perfect for salads and stir-fries.
  • Purple King: As the name suggests, these beans boast a vibrant purple hue, adding colour to your garden and plate. They turn green when cooked!
  • Scarlet Runner: Known for their brilliant red flowers, they’re a treat for the palate and a visual delight.

Dwarf beans:

Dwarf beans

  • Butter Beans: These produce plump, buttery pods that are a treat in any dish.
  • Borlotti: Often used in Italian dishes, they have a unique speckled appearance and a rich, nutty flavour.
  • Hawkesbury Wonder: A local favourite, these beans are known for their generous yield and delicious taste.

We’ve gathered these recommendations from various local nurseries and gardening clubs around Melbourne. Many seasoned gardeners swear by these varieties, and we’ve had personal success with them. If you’re looking to dive deeper, a visit to your local nursery or a chat with fellow gardening club members can offer even more tailored advice. Remember, choosing varieties that resonate with your taste and garden’s conditions is key.

When to plant beans in Melbourne

In Melbourne, the optimal time to plant beans, considering its temperate maritime climate is as follows:

  • Spring Planting (September to November): Ideal for most bean varieties, ensuring they receive ample sunlight and warmth for germination and growth.
  • Summer Planting (December to February): Suitable for heat-tolerant varieties like the Blue Lake climbing beans, ensuring a hearty summer harvest.
  • Autumn Planting (March to May): Primarily for broad beans, which can tolerate the cooler temperatures as we transition into winter.
  • Winter Planting (June to August): Generally avoided for beans due to the colder temperatures and reduced sunlight unless using protective measures like greenhouse kits (see our guide on the best greenhouse kits in Australia)

It’s crucial to note that climbing beans, such as Purple King, often prefer the warmer planting windows of spring and summer. In contrast, certain dwarf beans, like Borlotti, can be more forgiving with slightly cooler temperatures in late spring and early autumn.

Tips and tricks for growing beans in Melbourne 

Growing beans in Melbourne can be a delightful gardening journey, especially when you’re equipped with the right knowledge. 

While our city’s climate offers a favourable environment, a few tailored tips can make all the difference in ensuring a bountiful harvest. Let’s explore some specific strategies catering to Melbourne’s unique gardening landscape.

Preparing your garden for beans

Before you even think about planting those beans, the foundation – the soil – needs to be just right. Melbourne’s soil can vary, but beans thrive in well-draining soil with a neutral pH balance. 

We’ve found that adding good-quality compost can work wonders in achieving this balance. Not only does compost enrich the soil with nutrients, but it also improves its texture, ensuring your beans have the best start in life. If you’re hunting for top-notch compost, many local suppliers in Melbourne offer organic options. 

A trip to your neighbourhood gardening shop might just land you the perfect blend. For a deeper dive into getting your soil mix spot on, check out our guide on the best soil for vegetable gardens in raised beds. With the right groundwork, you’re setting the stage for a flourishing bean garden.

Understanding ideal planting conditions

Beans, like us, have their preferences. And when it comes to their ideal home, a few factors play a pivotal role. First and foremost, sunlight. Beans adore a good sunbathing session, requiring at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. This ensures they grow strong and yield a hearty harvest.

Spacing is another crucial aspect. When we’ve sown our beans, we’ve found that giving them a bit of personal space, roughly 15-20 centimetres apart, allows them to grow without competing for nutrients. Plus, it aids in proper air circulation, reducing the risk of diseases.

Now, Melbourne’s notorious winds can be a challenge. Beans, especially the climbing varieties, can be quite delicate. It’s essential to shelter them from strong gusts. Using natural barriers like hedges or strategically placing them behind taller plants can make a difference.

For those keen on diving even deeper, numerous expert gardening books are available that focus on Melbourne’s unique conditions. Additionally, attending local gardening workshops can offer hands-on experience and insights from seasoned Melbourne gardeners. Understanding your beans’ needs is the first step to ensuring they thrive.

Sowing secrets for a bountiful harvest

Over the years, we’ve picked up a few tricks that have consistently led to a bountiful harvest, and we’re eager to share them with our fellow Melbourne gardeners.

  1. Direct Sowing: Beans aren’t fans of being transplanted. We’ve always had the best success with direct sowing. It reduces the stress on the young plants and ensures they establish well from the get-go.
  2. Seed Depth Matters: Digging too deep or sowing too shallow can hinder germination. Aim for a depth of about 2-3 centimetres. This depth ensures the seeds aren’t too far from the sunlight but are still snug enough to benefit from the soil’s warmth.
  3. Good Seed-to-Soil Contact: Press down the soil gently after sowing. This simple act ensures the seed is in close contact with the soil, which aids in moisture absorption and germination.
  4. Quality Over Quantity: We can’t stress this enough – always opt for quality seeds. They’re the foundation of your harvest. Over the years, we’ve sourced our seeds from trusted local suppliers in Melbourne, ensuring they adapt to our unique climate and conditions.

Melbourne boasts several reputable seed suppliers for those looking to get their hands on top-notch bean seeds.

Watering and fertilisation

Water and nutrients – the lifeblood of any garden. But there’s a fine balance to strike when it comes to beans, especially in Melbourne’s unique climate.

For watering, we recommend keeping these guidelines in mind when caring for your beans:

  • Consistency is key: Beans prefer consistent moisture. It’s best to water them deeply and allow the top few centimetres of soil to dry before watering again.
  • Melbourne’s dry spells: During our notorious dry periods, keeping a closer eye on your beans is essential. If the soil feels dry a knuckle deep, it’s time to water. Early morning or late evening watering reduces evaporation and ensures the plants get the most benefit.
  • Mulch magic: Using a layer of organic mulch helps retain soil moisture, reduces water evaporation, and keeps those bean roots cool during hot days.

Meanwhile, when fertilising, you should consider the following: 

  • Nitrogen Fixers: One of the wonders of beans is their ability to fix nitrogen from the air and enrich the soil. This means they don’t need as much fertilisation as some other plants. In fact, over-fertilising can lead to lush foliage but fewer beans.
  • Organic Fertilisers: While beans are low-maintenance in the fertilisation department, a light application of an organic fertiliser can boost them, especially during the flowering and pod-forming stages. In Melbourne, we’re fortunate to have access to various organic fertilisers. Local gardening stores often stock options like seaweed solutions or worm castings, which are gentle on plants and perfect for beans.

In our experience, understanding your plants’ watering and nutritional needs and tailoring your care to Melbourne’s conditions can make all the difference. With the right balance, you’re on your way to a flourishing bean patch.

Useful companion plants

Companion planting is like matchmaking for your garden. Certain plants can boost each other’s growth, repel pests, and create a harmonious environment. For beans, there are several companions that we’ve found to be particularly beneficial, thanks to insights from companion planting guides and chats with local gardening gurus.

  1. Marigolds: These vibrant flowers aren’t just pretty to look at. They’re known to deter nematodes and other pests that can be harmful to beans. Plus, they add a splash of colour to your veggie patch.
  2. Corn: Beans and corn share a mutualistic relationship. While beans can climb up corn stalks, they also fix nitrogen in the soil, which corn can benefit from.
  3. Tomatoes: A classic companion for beans, tomatoes can deter pests that beans are susceptible to. If you’re keen on growing tomatoes alongside your beans, our guide on when to plant tomatoes in Melbourne offers valuable insights.
  4. Capsicum: Another excellent companion, capsicums, can benefit from the nitrogen beans fixed in the soil. For tips on growing capsicums in our city, check out our guide on growing capsicum in Melbourne.
  5. Nasturtiums: These flowering plants act as a trap crop, attracting aphids and other pests away from beans. Plus, they’re edible and can add a peppery punch to salads.
  6. Rosemary and Thyme: These aromatic herbs can deter bean beetles, making them a fragrant and functional addition to your bean garden.

Remember, while companion planting can offer numerous benefits, ensuring that all plants have adequate space and aren’t competing for nutrients is essential. With the right companions, your beans will thrive and help create a balanced and vibrant garden ecosystem.

Beans on stem

Troubleshooting common challenges

Growing beans in Melbourne comes with its unique set of challenges. Here’s a quick rundown of common issues and their solutions:

  • Inconsistent Watering: Adjust to Melbourne’s unpredictable weather by setting a regular watering schedule, using mulch to regulate soil moisture and monitoring rainfall.
  • Poor Soil Quality: Enrich with organic compost and consider soil testing kits from local gardening stores to address nutrient deficiencies.
  • Inadequate Sunlight: Ensure beans receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight; use raised beds or containers to move them to sunnier spots if needed.
  • Pest Infestations: Regularly inspect for pests and use companion planting as a natural deterrent. Seek organic solutions recommended by Melbourne’s gardening community.
  • Disease Outbreaks: Prevent fungal diseases by ensuring proper plant spacing, watering the soil (not foliage), and using organic fungicides when necessary.

You can navigate these challenges by proactively tapping into local resources and enjoying a successful bean-growing season.

Common pests and diseases

Navigating the challenges of pests and diseases is part and parcel of gardening. Here’s a concise guide for Melbourne bean growers:

  1. Aphids: Tiny sap-sucking pests. Combat with beneficial insects diluted soapy water or organic aphid sprays from local stores.
  2. Bean Beetles: Beetles that damage bean leaves. Hand-pick them or use neem oil available at Melbourne gardening shops.
  3. Rust: Causes orange pustules on leaf undersides. Ensure good air circulation, avoid overhead watering, and consider local organic fungicides.
  4. Blight: Leads to dark leaf spots and wilting. Remove affected areas and use copper-based sprays from local suppliers.

Staying vigilant and tapping into Melbourne’s organic solutions can help ensure your beans remain healthy and thriving.

Harvesting and storage hacks

Reaping the fruits (or, in this case, beans) of your labour is one of the most rewarding parts of gardening. Here’s how to ensure you get the best from your harvest and keep those beans fresh for longer, especially with Melbourne’s unique conditions in mind:

  • Recognising ripe beans: Beans are best harvested when firm to the touch but before the seeds bulge. They should snap easily when bent.
  • Harvesting techniques: Use scissors or garden shears to snip beans off to avoid damaging the plant. Regular harvesting encourages more bean production.
  • Melbourne’s storage challenges: Our city’s fluctuating humidity can be challenging. Beans stored in humid conditions can become limp or mouldy.
  • Storage hacks: Store beans unwashed in a breathable bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. For longer storage, blanch and freeze them. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider pickling or drying them.

Remember, timely harvesting and proper storage are key to enjoying your beans. With these hacks, you can savour the taste of your home-grown beans long after the growing season.

Final thoughts

Growing beans in Melbourne isn’t just about the harvest but the journey. From sowing that first seed to enjoying a plateful of fresh beans, the process is filled with learning, joy, and a deep connection to the earth. In our city, with its unique climate and vibrant gardening community, bean cultivation becomes an even more rewarding experience.

We’re big advocates for sustainable gardening. By choosing organic methods, recycling garden waste, and sharing surplus with neighbours, we nurture our gardens and community. Melbourne’s spirit thrives in its communal gardens, neighbourhood plant swaps, and shared gardening tips.

So, as you venture into or continue your bean-growing journey, we encourage you to embrace the broader Melbourne gardening community. Share your experiences, challenges, and triumphs. 

Remember, every bean plant you nurture is a testament to your connection with nature and community. Happy gardening and we can’t wait to hear your bean tales.

Also, to expand your gardening horizons, why not dive into our guide on growing potatoes in Melbourne?


Do beans grow all year round?

Beans primarily grow in warmer seasons, but with the right conditions, certain varieties can be cultivated throughout the year.

Do beans need full sun?

Yes, beans thrive in full sun, requiring at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth.

Which is the best fertiliser for beans?

Beans benefit from a light application of organic fertiliser, but they’re also nitrogen-fixers, meaning they enrich the soil naturally.