If you like the idea of growing pinto beans, but have no garden, you can actually grow them indoors. Growing pinto beans is a practical idea, partly because these beans can be used in so many culinary applications, but also because they have a long storage life. Here are 7 steps you can use to successfully grow pinto beans.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Store dry beans in the freezer for four hours to kill any bugs or larvae before placing in glass jars for dry storage."
Step 1 – Choose Your Preferred Seed Bed
Use a flower box, an old dresser drawer filled with garden soil, a hydroponics grow box, or build a simple shallow box and fill it with 4 or 5 inches of potting soil or topsoil.
Step 2 – Prepare Soil for Planting
If you're using outdoor topsoil, be sure it has warmed to at least 50 degrees before planting your seeds. Leave the soil only slightly damp. Pinto beans are likely to rot before they germinate if the soil they're planted in is wet. Before planting, find a place near a window where the bean plants will catch direct afternoon sunlight. Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch between rows. This will help control weeds and retain moisture.
Step 3 – Prepare Pinto Beans for Planting
Prepare your beans for planting by placing them in a damp paper towel, then put the towel into a plastic sandwich bag and keep them in a dark, warm place until some of them begin to sprout. This should take 5 to 7 days. Or, soak them overnight in warm water before planting them.
Step 4 - Plant Your Pinto Beans
To plant your beans, dig a narrow furrow about 1 ½ to 2 inches deep. Drop your beans into the furrow, spacing them from each other by 4 inches. When using a planter box 24 inches wide or less, create 1 row of beans in the center of the planter box. This spacing will allow you to cultivate and aerate the soil. To help you remember where your beans are planted, run a string along the tops of the furrow. When finished planting, sprinkle the planted soil lightly with water, enough to leave the surface moist without disturbing the planted seeds.
Step 5 – Fertilize the Soil
When bean plants have grown to a 4 to 6-inch height, work 4-10-10 fertilizer into the soil, being careful to avoid disturbing young plant roots.
Step 6 - Cultivate Your Planter Soil
As the plants grow, cultivate the soil in areas where there are no bean roots or sprouts, such as between rows. This loosening of the soil will prevent compacting of the soil and will help prevent weeds from growing. For weeds that do grow, pull them by hand. Be careful not to disturb growing roots or sprouts.
Step 7 – Water Your Plants
Pinto bean plants should be given minimum amounts of water. This means, you should only water them when soil in the planter box has only recently become dry.
TIP: Susan suggests, "Stick you finger in soil to your knuckle, and if dry water your beans."
Step 8 - Harvest Your Bean Crop
Harvest pinto beans that you wish to eat fresh when pods are 3 inches long, or leave on the vine to dry.