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I am having a weird time with my beans this year. For whatever reason, absolutely none of them are growing normally. This is my third set of beans I’ve put in the ground. I’ve tried two different brands of asparagus bean, and one white bean.

The beans will emerge quickly and normally, but the first leaves will often have some deformity. They will either be small, light in colour, or generally not very attractive. The second leaves are then just awful, shriveled, poorly coloured, and small. They just keep getting worse from there.

My soil is new, amended with peat, cow manure, and miracle grow perlite. It is light and fluffy, and I monitor it closely every day. Everything else is growing great.

I’ve tried three different packs of beans, I’ve watered my soil wih neem oil and sprayed with insecticide. I’m just at my wits end and have no idea what is going on.

Any help would be appreciated!

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    Was the cow manure well rotted, or fairly "raw"? If you were planting in "new soil" with several additives to condition it, the common factor is probably something in that mix of ingredients. Nutrient levels that are too high are just as bad as too low. Try some other quick-germinating seeds and see if they have the same problems. – alephzero Jul 17 at 14:18
  • The cow manure was well aged. It was a commercially bagged manure. All of my seeds were germinated in a paper towel until root ends sprouted and then they were transferred. I just don’t understand how they start out so healthy and then this happens. I tried leaving them just to see — and now they are also developing the brown spots you can see in the images. :( – CommGardenGirl Jul 17 at 18:55
  • There are several bacterial and fungal diseases that could be causing the brown spots and/or yellowing leaves. Some of them come from the soil and others are spread from other plants (not necessarily in your garden!) by the wind. Or there may be something toxic in the soil, and excessively high nutrient levels are toxic in themselves, hence my first question. Since we only have some pictures to work from, it's hard to make a better guess. But since you have recurring problems, my bet would be the source is the soil rather than a wind-borne disease. – alephzero Jul 17 at 20:16
  • "It was a commercially bagged manure" - and if you don't know exactly where it came from, you have no idea what sort of pesticides, fungicides, antibiotics, deep cleaning products, or whatever, that the farmer had been using in the cowshed and which ended up in the slurry tank and in your manure! (If you want to believe that "manure = organic = good", it ain't necessarily so!) – alephzero Jul 17 at 20:25
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I noticed a big difference this year compared to last as well. I grow both Borlotti bush and Kentucky Wonder pole beans; the Borlotti germinated and grew on pretty much as last year, but the KW came up weird this year, not as bad as yours but yellowish and slow. Last year in almost the same soil they were absolutely picture perfect. Solid green all the way through with juicy leaves and went on to produce much beans.

There is apparently some sensitivity of the root nodule activity in beans to temperature. In my region last year the spring warmed up fast with the usual occasional frosty intervals but germination of all beans was prompt and they were eager to get up the poles. This year the spring was consistently cool for the longest time, the KW in particular were slow germinating and patchy in emergence. Mostly they emerged but they were grumpy and curly and miserable yellow green. I think the yellow tinge is a flag for nitrogen and in cold soil they don't get what they need. My solution was to grit teeth and wait for the weather to warm, which it eventually did, and now they are climbing the poles but definitely later than last and previous years.

Generally speaking if you cannot identify any responsible insect it is not a good idea to be spraying; in another year if you feel compelled to re-sow then just do half or a third and give the first lot a bit more time to get sorted out.

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