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Learning how to grow pinto beans and other drying beans is a great garden skill. They can be picked green and eaten or left to mature, dry, and be stored. Great gardening for beginners information.
Beans have a ton of nutrients and fiber. They are a super healthy part of your diet. Click here to see more.
Green beans are the beans when picked green and if you let them continue to grow until fully mature, you have dried beans. Some plants are good both ways such as scarlet runner beans. Some plants taste better as green beans such as Kentucky Wonder or Jade, while others make better dried beans such as pinto beans, black beans, and chickpeas.
To grow pinto beans, first plant the beans. You can even plant beans you buy to eat from the store if you wish. We purchased seed packets to make sure we were getting organic and non-GMO seeds. We plant ours around April 15th which is our last frost date.
As with most garden crops, start with good quality soil. Prepare the soil for planting.
Pinto bean plants
We plant the beans two knuckles deep for the kids or one for me. Poke a small hole in the soil up to that knuckle and drop the seed in. Then fill the hole with dirt and pat it about as hard as you would rub your eye. Water well and keep moist until the plant is established.
Beans can be eaten as green beans or allowed to mature more on the vine or bush and harvested as dry beans. If your green beans go too far on the vine, just harvest them and boil them like you would pinto beans.
As dried beans grow, instead of picking them off the vines like green beans, you let them grow to maturity and dry right on the vines. When they turn yellow or brown, you pick the pods off and store them for a few more weeks on a wire rack to finish drying.
Growing black beans
Other dried beans that can grow in the garden are black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils, or just about any other dry bean you can think of.
You can shell them before or after you dry them, they will dry fine either way. If you harvest the entire vine, you can bang them up against the inside of a barrel and the beans will come out all at once.
One thing to keep in mind is that you have to plant A LOT of drying beans to get a pound. However, it is fun and super easy to do!
How to dry and store beans
When we take out spent vines at Little Sprouts, we leave the roots in the soil for further nutrients next time we use our soil. The roots have nodules of nitrogen that give even more nutrients than other plants. We just cut them off at ground level with scissors and let the roots compost over the winter.
This is what the dried bean pods look like.
The kids LOVE to grow pinto beans and shell the beans and it’s a great activity for fine motor skill development. In addition, they get sensory experience from this activity. There are many beautiful beans that can be grown in beautiful color varieties for even more learning. You can save some of them to use for seeds next year.
This is what they look like in the pod, when you open it, they just fall out.
The kids love to harvest dried beans. They call it popping beans and beg to do it. We tried to grow a ton of dried beans, but we ended up with a little less. We have been popping beans on and off for several weeks and finally, we are finished shelling them all.
We grew black beans, pinto beans, and a few little beans from overgrown green beans that we will cook up the same way. In total, we shelled 3 ½ pounds.
The whole time we were shelling them, I kept wondering how beans are so cheap at the store. It’s a lot of work to prepare them for eating. I can’t imagine shelling 50 pounds of beans. WOW.
You can let your dried beans dry out and replant them again next year. Seed saving is a great thing to teach the kids in the garden. We could also replant these beans for growing more vines.
As we were shelling, I kept thinking of that thrift store rap song about popping tags. If you can look past the onslaught of foul language, it’s kinda funny. So I made up this little diddy to the tune. Needless to say, I’m a little weird. But I make myself smile.
Popping beans diddy
I’m gonna pop some beans
I got 20 hands to help me drop ’em
I’m gonna pop some beans
And feed these kids some tacos…
Choosing a variety of beans will depend on what space you have and what time you have.
Growing pinto beans and other dried beans is super satisfying. They grow fast and produce well. I rarely ever have problems with pests or diseases on my beans as well.
Check out my world famous green bean recipe the kids love. Even teenagers come up to me still and ask for this one or talk about it. There are a ton of ways to use and store green beans, check them out by clicking on the highlighted link, you can even pickle green beans super fast. And here’s how to cook dried beans.
Here is more on how to grow:
What experiences have you had with beans in the garden?