Now Sowing: Beans, common (March 15–May 15, July–August)

About Beans

Common Name: Beans (iphaseolus vulgaris)

Seed Saving Level:  Easy

Common beans are grouped by growth habit (bush, runner, pole beans) and the way they’re consumed (dry, snap or shelling beans). Pinto/black beans are dry. Green beans, wax beans and French varieties are snap beans.


Sow after danger of frost in sandy, well-drained soil. Plant 1” deep, 6” apart. Pole varieties will benefit from a trellis. Germinates and grows best in warm, loose-textured soils. Overwatering will cause yellow leaves.


50-60 days to maturity for snap beans; 85-110 for lima, 65 -75 for bush, 60-110 days for pole beans. Beans can be hand-picked after the pods have begun to fade in color. Snap bean pods break easily with a snap when ready, seed should not cause pods to bulge. Dry bean pods should remain on bush until dry and brown.

Seed Saving

Mostly self-pollinating, although some insect pollination takes place. Seeds are mature when pods turn tan. Dried beans can simply be shelled and stored. Green beans must be grown past maturity to  produce viable seeds.


  • The Seed Garden: the Art and Practice of Seed Saving (2015) by Seed Savers Exchange
  • Seedlisting
  • Native Seed / SEARCH

Books and ebooks

Recipe: Frijoles a la Charro (Spicy Bacon Pinto Beans)


  • 1 lb dried pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 white onion , quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 slices bacon, uncooked
  • ½ small white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 serrano chile peppers, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½  cup cilantro leaves, chopped


Place the beans in a large stockpot or clay olla and cover with plenty of water; soak for 6 hours or overnight. Drain and discard the soaking   liquid. Return the soaked beans to the stockpot along with the quartered onion and whole garlic cloves. Add enough water to the pot to rise approximately 2 inches above the beans.

Place the pot over medium-low heat and simmer,   uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender. Check and stir the beans every 15-20 minutes to ensure that they are covered in water and not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more water to the pan if necessary to ensure that all of the beans are always covered with water. Once the beans are fully cooked, remove from the heat and discard the onion and garlic.

Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the bacon and cook until it is crispy and golden brown. Stir in the diced onion, minced garlic and serrano peppers and cook for 3 min. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 min, or until they have softened. Add the cooked beans and their cooking liquid to the pan and stir to thoroughly combine.   Season with salt. Cook for 8-10 minutes longer until the flavors have blended and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Taste and season with additional salt if desired. Serve hot, garnished with chopped cilantro levees.

Source: The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen: A cookbook (2015) by Shannon Bard