Growing Pinto Beans from Dried Shelf Beans

by WendyFinn

So, do I need to visit a garden center to get started growing my own beans? Or, can I grow pinto beans from dried shelf beans? The answer may surprise you...

The answer is that yes, you can grow pinto beans from dried shelf beans! Dried beans are merely more mature specimens of bean. In fact farmers refer to dry beans as mature seeds.

Growing pinto beans is actually a relatively easy exercise, as well as the finished result providing you with excellent nutritional value.

Turn Those Dried Pintos into Nutritious Delicious Bean Plants

Although the home gardener may be surprised to discover that they can grow their own pinto beans pretty successfully, this undertaking may need a certain area of space given over to their culture. This is especially true if you want to grow enough to then dry and use for storage.

Get Growing

Germination and Planting

For beans to grow successfully, the site you need for planting should be in full-sun, in well-drained and fertile soil. It also helps if the soil is crumbly (friable). Pinto beans also require a long growing season, with a dry fall, to ensure good quality beans, so this may be a consideration, depending on the climate where you live.

You can start germinating your beans indoors, before you plant them outside, or plant them directly into the ground if you live in a warm climate. To start germination indoors, put your beans onto some damp kitchen roll, and into a warm and dark place (like an airing cupboard) for 3-4 days; you should then see germination taking place.

Late spring is the ideal time to start planting your pinto beans, well after the threat of frost is over, and the soil is warm. You only need plant your seed 1 inch into the ground, or further down (1 1/2 inches) if it is light, sandy soil. Each bean should be planted 2-4 inches apart, and in rows that are 2-3 feet apart - hence the need for a large area of space for planting.

To help germination, keep the top of the soil from becoming crusty with the use of sand or peat. You may also find germination is helped with the use of a saltpeter solution, which is often helpful in softening the outer shell to make germination easier.

After Care of Pinto Beans

Watering, mulching, weeding and crop rotation

With the method of how to grow pinto beans covered, we need to think about after care of our bean crop.

Providing adequate moisture is necessary from planting your bean, right through to the formation of the pod. An inch of water a week should be sufficient, but this obviously depends on your climate. Water early in the morning, where possible, to provide moisture, but allow the plant to dry quickly, thus minimizing the chance of disease.

Applying mulch is a good idea, to not only keep down weeds, but to retain soil moisture, which is vital to a pinto beans growth. A layer of 2-3 inches of organic, pest free mulch, or plastic weed sheeting, is ideal. If weeds become a problem then gentle hoeing, using a shallow stroke of the hoe, should keep the weeds down, without causing damage to the pinto bean plants.

Crop rotation is the key, to ensure a healthy crop of beans year after year, as beans are highly prone to attacks from common diseases. Rotate crops by using a different site each year for growing beans, thus promoting cultural health.

Drying & Harvesting Your Pintos

After covering the question, "can I grow pinto beans from dried shelf beans?" answered, you are now at the harvesting stage of your crop, and you may well want to keep your nutritious pinto beans for storage. The process for maturing the beans, so they become dry, is an easy one.

Leave your beans on the plant, until the bean pods dry. You can then raise the entire plant by pulling it up, putting it in the shade, and allowing it to dry for a further 2 weeks. After this time has elapsed you can open the pods to retrieve your dried beans, which are now ready for the storage jar - meaning that we have come full circle, right back to the humble dried pinto bean.


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Updated: on 05/01/2012, WendyFinn
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WendyFinn on 05/02/2012

What a cool idea - absolutely keep me posted :-)

Donna_Cosmato on 05/02/2012

This sounds like a great outdoor gardening experiment to try with our little guy! I'm wondering if we can train the vines around some stakes tied into a teepee shape and make a living teepee? I'll let you know how it works!

WendyFinn on 05/01/2012

I know what you mean, we are a bean family too but I didn't ever think to plant my own until this experiment.

katiem2 on 05/01/2012

I love dried beans, we eat them in all varieties and most everyday, being a vegetarian I really must take advantage of planting my own pinto beans. Thanks for the gardening tips for beans, dried beans will be easy to store.

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