In this tip:
When sowing beans directly into the garden soil, sometimes not all seeds turn into plants. See photos below of my neighbours garden in our allotment garden.
The first row: Near the string, bean seeds have been sown; each 10 centimeters (4 inch) one bean seed. Not all bean seeds (or only a few seeds) germinated.
Later on, bean seeds have been sown at the empty positions between the plants.
A)# Folding paper
You can fold the paper in a way that there is a narrow “flap” at one long side. You can write info (date, species) on the flap.
B)# Sowing beans in an (ice cream) box on kitchen paper
- Use a plastic tray, for example an ice cream box. This rectangular box has a flat bottom. Sides are about 6 centimeters (2.4 inch) high.
- Lay folded kitchenpaper (6 layers) on the bottom.
- Moisten the paper with cold tap water;
- Pour “much” water in the box on the paper.
- Let the paper get moist completely.
- Keep the box slanting.
- Let water flow out of the box until dripping starts.
- Put the box straight again.
- Lay 30 to 50 bean seeds on moist kitchen paper as shown on the photo above.
- Lay a lid on the box. Info about this lid a few lines further (chapter B1)
- Place the boxes in a warm room, 18 to 25 C (65 to 77 F).
- Check for big bean plants. Take big plants (2 inch high) from the paper and put them in the soil.
- Add water on the paper when needed.
B1) A lid on the box
Lay a “lid” on the box with bean seeds. This lid keeps the paper moist for several days. So the paper does not dry out so fast. When the paper is dry, germination stops.
The lid is on the box until the first bean plants are about 5 centimeters (2 inch) high. Take these bean plants from the paper and put the lid on the box again. Check dayly if there are new “big” bean plants on the moist paper. And check if the paper is moist. When needed add some tap water to the paper.
You can use the original “ice cream box lid” or a lid made of cardboard in a plastic bag. Below a description.
B1a) Original lid
Put the original lid “loose” on the box. The paper in the box does not dry out so fast. There are many air openings (splits) between box and lid.
- Do not push on the original lid while putting it on the box; pushing causes the lid to stuck to the box. When opening the box, you have to pull hard at the lid. Bean seeds can roll or shift during opening. That is not good. So put the lid loose on the box.
- When using this original lid, you can stack only a few systems (box with lid) on top of each other. The lower lid can be pushed on the box due to the weight of the upper systems.
B1b) “Cardboard lid”
Or you can make a simple lid by putting a piece of cardboard in a plastic bag. The rubber bands hold the cardboard in the bag. The rubber bands also make small air holes between the lid and the box. Using this lid you can stack “many” systems (box with lid) on top of each other. In tip 35 you can read how to make this lid. And what are the advantages of this lid.
C)# Small bean plants
After about 10 days there will be some bean plants of 2 inch high. They have roots and leafs are visible. Watering the paper makes it easier to remove the plants. Take big bean plants from the paper and plant them in the soil. Water the soil after planting. Rake the soil around the plants when the soil has dried up a little. Use a small hand cultivator to do this.
- The lid is on the box during all germination time. The lid is only removed for a short time when taking bean plants out or when adding water.
- The cardboard lid is the best lid and works very well. The original lid works well too with less than 4 boxes on top of each other.
- Clean boxes before use (wash up, rinse and dry).
- Always use tap water.
- Germinating seeds stink.
- Not all seeds germinate at the same time.
- Paper is well wetted when you see water appearing some seconds after slanting the box. Or press with one finger on the moist paper and check if there is a small puddle of water visible around the finger.
- Long (high) bean plants? Plant them deeper in the soil.
- On some bean seeds, green/blue fungus spots can appear.
- Some beans can rot, remove them.
- Some varieties or species give more rotting seeds.
- Old bean seed gives more rotting and/or fungus spots.
- In the box, seeds germinate under ideal circumstances (humidity, air, light).
- More beans needed, place more systems on top of each other.
- You can plant the bean plants at all summer weather conditions (sunshine, rain).
- Is there too much water in the box, do not water for some days. Seeds will not rot thanks to 6 layers of absorbing paper.
- Is there way too much water, use new kitchen paper or tissues to absorb the exces of water.
- You can harvest early beans when you put the first bush bean seeds on moist kitchen paper at early spring.
- Write info (variety, date) on absorbing paper before wetting. See photo below.
E)# How fast germinating and growing
On the photos above you see 20 germinating bean seeds, 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 or 11 days after laying on the moist paper. Temperature was about 2o C (68 F).
From 8 days on, some bean plants are big enough to plant in the garden.
F)# Putting in a big tray or in flower pots
- Use 2 equal size flower pots, upper diameter is about 12 centimeters (5 inch).
- At one pot cut away more than half of the side wall. Keep the bottom intact. This is the insert.
- Put the insert in the flower pot.
- Fill with compost (or a mixture of compost and garden soil).
- Put 4 bean plants in the flower pot.
- You can easily remove the root ball with plants when planting out in the garden soil.
You can use “normal” flower pots too. It is a little harder then to get the root ball with plants out of the pots.
You can put many flower pots with small bean plants in a laundry basket. Lay a piece of wire netting on top against (Black)birds that search for earth worms in the compost.
Put the basket to your garden at good planting weather and put the plants in the garden soil.
G)# Extra info
At warm sunny weather you can place the germinating beans in a mini greenhouse. Some bean plants fall over and grow with curved stems. Plant them in the soil with the stem upright.
During germimation, bacteria and funguses are active. In the soil but also in the box with absorbing paper. You smell it and you see some spots on the seeds. These organisms are not extreme dangerous. But you must always wash hands after gardening and before eating or drinking. Growing beans on absorbing paper is gardening too.
I)# Soaking prior to germinating?
Is germinating faster when seeds have been soaked in water before laying on paper?
Here a test to find out. Bean seeds have been soaked in water for 1,2,4,8,12 (not 16) or 24 hours. Some seeds have not been soaked. Then the seeds were put on moist kitchen paper. Test was done twice. Below the results.
After soaking, these bean seeds have been germinated for 5 days at 20 C (68 F).
After soaking, these bean seeds have been germinated for 10 days at 20 C (68 F).
On both photos; the seeds at the left side of the red line have been soaked prior to germinating, the seeds at the right side haven’t.
- Soaked seeds do not germinate faster than non-soaked.
- Soaked seeds give more rotting or brown coloured seeds than non-soaked.
So you better not soak the bean seeds before laying on absorbing paper. Best way is putting dry seeds on moist paper.
There was a reaction from Koen (Dutch visitor) who mentioned that most of his bean plants formed a curl during growing. To investigate this, beans were sown on moist paper. The boxes with germinating bean seeds were in a warm or a cold room, in dark or in light.
The top photo shows many “curled” bean plants and a few “not curled” plants. The curled bean plants get “straight” within 24 to 36 hours.
Beans that germinate in the dark give plants with a long stem, so best to plant out. The leaves are light yellow and turn to green within 24 hours.
I wrote an article about this topic on Wikihow. Click on: wikihow beans .
L)# Seeds of other legumes
Germinating beans on moist paper goes well. Other legumes can also germinate in this way.
L1) Horse beans
Nine seeds of horse beans (broad beans) germinate on moist paper. One seed is rotting (the dark brown seed, top left).
Eight seeds grew into good plants.
You can put each plant in a flower pot (with insert) filled with compost. Put the plants in your garden in March (late winter).
L2) Peas and Snow peas
M)# Warm germination
When bean seed is old, there can be mould (fungus) on the seeds during germination at room temperature, 20 C (68 F). Most seeds grow into bean plants. But some seeds are not okay; the fungus makes these seeds rot.
- Left box: old bean seed, germinated for 5 days at a temperature between 25 and 30 C (77 to 86 F).
- Right box: old bean seed, germinated for 5 days at 20 C (68 F).
N)# Youtube video:
On the internet I found these interesting videos about seeds and germination;
This video (about germinating all kind of seeds).
and this Dutch video (about germination of bean seeds)