Saving seeds from green beans is a perfect introduction to seed saving. Did you know that pinto beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and other dried beans are simply seeds? If you grew beans last year and dried some for eating through the winter, you can use those very same beans to plant in the spring.
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Why save seeds from beans?
Why would you want to grow your own beans when you can buy them cheaply at the store? Because you can easily grow them organically and because you can grow a huge variety that is not available in the grocery store. There are literally dozens of different beans available, such as Cherokee, calypso, rattlesnake, and lazy wife. In addition to having different looks and flavors, they also have different attributes.
For example, one reason I grow lazy wife beans in my garden is that they are a favorite of Japanese beetles. Yes, you read that correctly. Because the beetles love them, they ignore my other beans. It’s a win-win because I get a great crop of green beans from other varieties, and it makes it easier to knock the beetles into a bucket of soapy water in the evening because they are all congregating on the lazy wife beans. When you grow different varieties, you’ll soon discover which ones grow best in your garden.
There are several advantages to saving seeds from beans:
- Cost savings: Saving seeds from beans can save you money because you don’t have to buy new seeds every year. You can use the seeds you saved from the previous year’s crop to plant a new crop.
- Adaptation to local conditions: When you save seeds from beans that have grown well in your local climate and soil conditions, you can select for traits that are well-suited to your particular environment. Over time, this can result in plants that are better adapted to your specific growing conditions.
- Preservation of heirloom varieties: Saving seeds from heirloom varieties of beans helps to preserve these unique and often rare varieties for future generations.
- Genetic diversity: Saving seeds from a variety of different beans helps to maintain genetic diversity within the bean population. This can help to ensure that the crop remains resilient to pests, diseases, and other environmental stresses.
Overall, saving seeds from beans is a simple and cost-effective way to ensure that you have a steady supply of healthy, high-quality beans for years to come. You can buy bean seeds once and then, each year, simply plant dried beans that were produced in the previous year’s crop.
Do beans cross-pollinate?
Although saving seeds from some vegetables can be complicated because of cross-pollination issues, this isn’t normally a problem with beans, which makes them a perfect introduction to the world of seed saving. This means that if you take seeds from pinto bean plants, they will grow into pinto beans. They won’t be a hybrid of pinto and another bean that was growing nearby.
How to Save Seeds from Green Beans
When we grow beans, we only pick the smallest and most tender beans to eat as green beans. Once we can see the seeds bulging in the pod, we leave them on the vine to dry. Then in the fall, when the vines are dead, and the beans are completely brown and crunchy, we pick them.
We normally shell the beans by hand while watching television or chatting around the kitchen table. This excellent video from Seed Savers Exchange, however, will show you how to do it more quickly by threshing and winnowing.
I prefer to save the beans in a paper bag because if you store them in an airtight container, they will mold if there is too much moisture left in them.
To save green bean seeds, follow these steps:
- Allow the green beans to fully mature on the vine until they are dry and brown.
- Pick the dried bean pods from the vine and let them dry for a few more days (or weeks) in a warm, dry location. There is no deadline as long as the pods have good air circulation around them.
- Whenever it’s convenient, crack them open and remove the seeds.
- Discard any seeds that are discolored or damaged.
- Store the remaining seeds in a cool, dry place.
- Label the container with the date and variety of the seeds.
By following these steps, you can save green bean seeds for future planting and ensure that you have a supply of fresh, healthy seeds for your garden.
Can you plant dry beans from the grocery store?
If they have been irradiated, they won’t grow, so it’s best to buy organic beans. Legally, organic food cannot be irradiated. There is no way to know if conventionally grown beans have been irradiated or not because labeling is not required.
Pro tips for saving bean seeds
- Select the best plants for seed saving: Choose healthy, disease-free plants that have produced a good crop of beans.
- Keep records of your seed-saving activities: Record the date, variety, and location of the beans you are saving seeds from. This will help you keep track of which seeds are which and when they were saved.
- Test the germination rate of saved seeds: Before planting saved bean seeds, test their germination rate by placing a few seeds in a damp paper towel and keeping them in a warm, dark place for a few days. If most of the seeds sprout, they are viable and can be planted.
- Store seeds properly: Store saved bean seeds in a cool, dry place. Label the container with the date and variety of the seeds.
By following these tips, you can ensure that the bean seeds you save are healthy, viable, and ready to plant when the time comes.