Q: I planted a bunch of bean seeds July 1st and had very poor germination though I watered 2X a day. One of the four that did sprout was beheaded almost immediately. Because it was so hot & dry I had soaked the seeds for a day before planting. They were a few years old but that hasn't been a problem before. I’ve heard from others who also had poor bean germination this year.
A: I‘ve run into this occasionally, usually when the soil is cold and wet so not likely for July planting. Do a germination test on some remaining seeds. Place 10 in a zip top bag with a moist paper towel and put in a bright but not direct sun location indoors. If 8 seeds germinate you have 80% germination. This way you can verify the viability of the seed. Second, check for cutworms, the larvae of miller moths. They love green bean shoots! Sift through the soil to find them. If that is the case, pretreat the soil with a bacillus thuringiensis product and dust the surface with diatomaceous earth. I’ve had a lot of foliar damage from earwigs this year where I have mulch on the soil. Turns out, mulch is a great hiding place for earwigs that come out at night and chew up my beans and squash. I often start green beans in little pots (2 seeds per pot) and transplant them when the roots reach the bottom of the pot. This gives nearly 100% success.