If you read my article about how to grow lima beans, you know that I love everything which is extraordinary and unusual. All those vegetables which have some distinctive feature are my personal favorite, and the time has come for another one.
I’ll show you how to grow black beans and why the world went crazy about it in the past decade or so. They are not demanding plants, and I had a blast growing them.
What Are Black Beans?
If you thought that black beans are just regular ones which are cross-bred with some other variety, and are the same as white ones, you would be wrong. They are an interesting cultivar, and here are some facts about this bean’s cousin.
As it is shown, black beans don’t need daily care and you watching them every minute. Also, their requirements are the same as with many other plants, so in case that you have grown something already, you will do just fine. Or, if you haven’t, this can be a great learning experience.
Tools Of The Trade
Luckily, there aren’t too many things you will need to grow these beans successfully. If you have an established garden, the chances are that there is already everything required in your tool shed. If not, hop to the nearest gardening center, and buy following.
See, nothing too extravagant or extraordinary. Of course, if you are growing black beans in a container, the right potting soil will be required, so take a few bags (depending on how many containers you are planning to fill). The seeds will be needed, either way, so you will have to go anyway.
No matter what “Justice League” says, Bruce Wayne’s superpower is not being rich. It is his preparation that puts him even with the Superman. Following this philosophy, you will need good preparation and schedule. Luckily, you don’t need to eliminate crime in Gotham, but to consider just a few things.
The location is essential when beans are grown, because the amount of needed sunlight is, as I said, at least 6 hours per day. Finding a place which fulfills this condition is the first step toward adequately planted beans.
Next, see the quality of the soil and consider what grew in that place in the past three years. If other legumes such as peas were produced here, skip that place. This is because many diseases can be avoided this way and because legumes bind the nitrogen to the soil. By planting them at the same spot, the plants will probably grow large leaves, with small fruits.
Measuring the pH of the soil can be quickly done, but it is not mandatory. If you have a pH measuring kit, check the numbers. A few decimals off the chart are perfectly fine, and you won’t have any problems. On the other hand, if other plants in your garden are progressing well, black beans will do just fine.
Of course, water retention matters, but instead of digging a hole one foot deep and filling it with water to see how long will it take for the soil to absorb, check out two things.
The height of the soil impacts if the water will remain after rains. If you spot puddles forming and staying for a long time, go with raised beds instead. Those are super easy to make and can save you a lot of money.
The texture of the soil influences this factor. If your garden has a greasy feel when wet, it contains a lot of clay and can be rectified, but the process is long and extensive. Instead, go with the beds. On the other hand, if the texture is nice and grainy, this is the kind you are after.
In the beginning, you will need manure or other organic matter which will work as fertilizer. I don’t recommend you to use bought fertilizers, since those won’t change the texture of the soil as much, and will not improve the aeration.
Instead, apply a couple of inches of compost and till it thoroughly. Once infused, it will start doing its magic, and in several weeks you will have a fantastic soil ready to receive the seeds. All that is left now is to wait for the weather to settle.
Black beans are highly sensitive to frost, so wait until you see that the temperature of the soil doesn’t drop below 70°F. This time frame usually means the second half of March or beginning of April, depending on your location. Naturally, if you are growing the beans in a container, you can start whenever you like.
You can use this period to strike the stakes and make support for your beans to climb to. They can grow up to three feet in height, so plan according to this. Eventually, you can even build a trellis, since this is the most reliable way to provide support for your plants.
Let’s Sow Those Seeds!
To give your seeds a good head start and ensure that germinating process won’t fail, put the seeds in a bucket and fill it with water. Leave it so overnight, and the beans will absorb water due to a high percentage of starch which just drinks the water. Also, this is an excellent procedure to take before cooking (free advice).
Make lines in the soil where you plan to plant beans. Those should be about 1-2” deep. Plant seeds with white spot pointed down. Cover with dirt and water lightly. In short, this is the sowing process, and you can’t do anything wrong. As for watering during the next week or two, keep the soil moist, but (you guessed it!) don’t overdo it.
The germinating process lasts about two weeks, and after that, you should see sprouts appearing. When they grow to about 1”, you can leave one or two seedlings at each 6”. This gives good space while remaining in sufficient numbers. Of course, bush varieties should have more space.
Care About Black Beans
This is the easy part since there are but a few things which you need to look after.
Watering is essential for black beans, and if you are in doubt whether to apply water or not, pass it. They suffer more from wet feet than from lack of water, and if possible, keep the soil slightly moist, but not damp. The best thing to do is to apply mulch since this keeps the water in the ground and keeps the weeds at bay.
As for fertilizing, all that compost you infused will feed the plants, and they should progress without problems. However, if the summer is scorching and you see the plants struggling, some fine manure tea will give them boost. On the other hand, if you notice leaves which are turning yellow, this might be a sign of lack of nitrogen, and fish emulsion can help.
Pests And Diseases
Luckily, the majority of diseases which can strike your plants are fungal and are directly connected with watering. If you maintain water at a reasonable rate, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Also, some diseases can get transferred from the soil to foliage via splashes, so be sure to set the watering device to low, and water just the soil around the plants.
There are no extraordinary pests which can trouble you, and all of them are well-known. Therefore, if you notice aphids, mites or leafhoppers. There are ways to deal with them, but if possible, avoid applying chemical solutions; either hand-pick them or use some of my organic countermeasures.
Harvesting And Storing Black Beans
From 90 to 140 days is the period which requires black beans to ripen and be ready for harvesting. You will notice that in time leaves and stems draw yellow and brittle and that pods are containing ripe seeds.
This is the time to act. You can remove a complete plant and pick off the pods later, or collect the pods first, and remove plants after that. I prefer the first approach since I know that I have completed the whole work after that.
As for storing, you can put seeds into a ziplock bag and throw it into the freezer, or to pour it into a glass jar with an airtight lid and store somewhere dark and cold. The first approach is useful for warm areas, while the second preserves the taste better. Seeds are hard and can endure long periods without spoiling.
In the end, I have to say that this was an exciting experience. Writing about how to grow black beans reminded me of how much I have enjoyed in having them in my garden, and how easy this task was!
As always, if you have questions, thoughts or advice, use the comment section below. Any feedback is more than welcome.