As with many crops and flowers, continual harvesting of beans equals more production. By leaving beans on the vine, you’re signaling to the plant that it has reproduced and no longer need to grow—but by taking the fruit off, you trick the plant into thinking it still has seeds to make, and thus, you continue to get more beans.
Harvesting beans can be a chore because they are so prolific, but the process is pretty simple. Green beans are nice and tender when they are about the diameter of a pencil; let them stay on the vine too long, and they’ll get touch. You can use pruners or shears for a nice clean cut, or you can pull the beans off the vine by hand. If using your hands keep the bean in one hand and the vine in the other so that you don’t pull down the vine and ruin the plant. The bean should disconnect at the junction, and you should get plenty of beans for the remainder of summer.
Collect your beans in your favorite bucket or bag, and then take them inside to clean for eating or canning. If you have string beans, snap off the ends and pull off the strings from both sides (both can be composted). If you have stringless beans you can simply snap off the ends. Particularly if you’re canning, discard any beans with imperfections, such as rust or notches nibbled by pests. If you’re lucky, you’ll have enough beans for a summer time meal and to can for a wintertime casserole.