bean stems brown and potato growing

I planted some Italian pole beans and the stems are turing brown and the plants a re dying.. help!! I also tried to grow some potatoes using the straw method. I planted the potatoes with growing eyes in the ground and then after they had put out about 6" of green growth vovered them with straw that I kept watered. The plants died and the straw turned black. What is "right" way to do this growing process? I am in Southern Cal. Thank you
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I am no expert, but it sounds like too much water on the potatoes and straw.
Dwayne

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I don't know about the beans - but I agree with Dwayne - sounds like way too much water on the straw. What type straw was used? pine straw, wheat straw? hay? and how old was the straw? was it brittle and dried out or was it green? I know that the type & condition of the straw factors in some. Different types of straw around here will mold and blacken with too much water. especially if the straw is in "bundles" or bales. so how much you put down might factor in too.

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