Mexican food lovers have eaten their fair share of refried beans. These beans are called pinto beans and have a delectable taste and impressive health profile. Learning how to grow pinto beans is most effortless for those who live in warm climates.
Growing pinto beans requires a location that lacks cold temperatures and is on the dryer side. Planting pinto beans may be a challenge for some, but they are worth adding to your garden beds.
The bean pods not only taste delicious, but they lower cholesterol in our bodies and help protect people from heart disease. Whether growing them outside or in raised beds, these crops are a great new addition to grow alongside your usual fruits and veggies.
There are many different bean varieties for you to choose from. Some people prefer to stick to Mexican roots, and others use them as a side for a filling English Breakfast.
When it comes down to it, planting bean plants at home could become one of the most nutritious decisions you’ve made in years.
What to Know before Growing Pinto Beans
You should always understand as much as you can about the crops you’re working with, and this applies when you are learning how to grow pinto beans. Bean plants come in two varieties.
There are pole beans, also called runner beans or vine beans, and bush beans. Pinto beans are legumes that allow you to choose which growth pattern you prefer working with. However, most dry beans that we keep for long-term storage are pole beans.
Pole beans grow vertically and reach heights of about five or six feet. The way to plant pole beans is to use a trellis for support. The trellis is ordinarily six to eight feet tall. Many gardeners train these bean varieties to grow in a teepee shape.
The vertical growth of pole beans produces higher yields while requiring less garden space. They are even easier to harvest by hand. Even though they take longer to mature, you can harvest them frequently throughout the growing season up until the first frost of fall.
In contrast, bush beans only grow around two feet tall and are typically planted in double rows that help hold each other up. Bush beans do better with medium or hot climates rather than cooler conditions.
These beans are not as labor-intensive because of staking, weeding, and watering that the pole beans demand. However, all of the beans are produced at once and must be harvested simultaneously.
Pinto beans, also called Phaseolus vulgaris, grow in both ways. An excellent example of pole beans is the green snap bean, and popular bush beans are wax beans.
Regardless of the types you choose to grow, planting pinto beans is most successful when you pay attention to their basic needs.
How to Grow Pinto Beans
How do pinto beans grow? The first action in figuring out how to sprout pinto beans is to choose the variety. There are many different cultivars. Do a little bit of cultivar research to decide which types will work best for your space.
Planting Pinto Beans
To get your pinto beans growing properly, choose a planting site with optimum conditions. Bean seeds require full sun and warmth to germinate. Choose a gardening location that receives a minimum of six hours of direct light for the most rapid growth.
Avoid areas that lack good drainage and air circulation. Damp soil that doesn’t dry out all the way could rot or grow mildew and kill your pinto bean plants. The ground must contain fertile soil to provide the appropriate nutrients throughout the growing season.
Mixing compost into the ground is a simple way to supply nutrition. You can also make your own nitrogen fertilizer to get them started on the right foot.
Grab a large plastic bucket and mix four parts seed meal, half part lime, half part bone meal, and half part kelp meal. Once everything is well combined, work the fertilizer into your chosen garden beds a couple of days before sowing pinto bean seeds.
Caring for Pinto Beans
This grow-pinto-beans advice provides all the information necessary for nurturing these crops to maturity. Test the soil and ensure the pH is between 6.0 and 7.0. Soak dried beans for 24 hours the day before planting them.
Sow seeds with at least six inches between each one. The shallow root system is not ideal if you were hoping to transplant seedlings.
Wait until a few weeks after the last frost of spring to sow the seeds. Germination of pinto beans happens when the soil temperature is between 70°F and 80°F. Seedlings sprout around two weeks. At this point, thin them so they are six inches apart.
Once the pinto seedlings are established in their new home, allow the soil to dry completely between each watering session to prevent fungal diseases. Spread a heavy layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants.
If you prefer not to use mulch, cover the ground with a black plastic bag. Both of these products prevent weed growth and keeps soil warm. Install some floating row covers to control aphids, mites, and other pests that are attracted to your crops.
How to Harvest Pinto Beans
Pinto beans take anywhere from 90 to 150 days to reach maturity. This timeframe changes mainly depending on the weather throughout the growing season. Some gardeners remove the beans from the stems while they are still immature and green.
Most choose to leave them until they start to dry. Refrain from watering the plants two weeks before you think they are ready to harvest.
Dried beans on the vine are firm and have the thickness of a pencil. If you bite into the bean and your teeth barely leave a mark, they are ready to pick.
Mature pods look green and plump and are roughly four to six inches long. Remember that bush pinto beans all mature at the same time, while pole beans mature at different times.
When ready, pull or snap the beans off of the vine with your hands. If the pods are mature and there is rainy weather, remove the entire plant from the ground and hang it in a very dry place to cure.
Storing Pinto Beans
Try to shell the fresh pinto beans right after you harvest them. Open the bean pod by pulling the string on the top of the pod. The pod opens, and you find two to five beans inside each one.
You may either cook the beans fresh, place them in a plastic bag and set them in the freezer, or allow them to dry out more.
To dry the beans, put down a layer of paper towel in an airtight container, jar, or plastic bag. Set the beans in the container, replace the lid, and store them in a cool and dry area until you and your family are ready to use them.
Using Pinto Beans in the Kitchen
The best part about growing pinto beans is the moment that you finally start cooking with them. Pinto beans are a staple food in Mexican cuisine.
Most of us are used to eating refried beans as a side, but there are a lot of other tasty ways to cook them. Try this recipe for a spicy pinto bean soup that features lots of seasoning and protein.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook the yellow onion until it becomes tender and starts browning. Add the sliced garlic cloves and cook for another three minutes. Stir in cumin and fennel.
Add the chicken broth and chiles before bringing the contents to a gentle simmer for 25 minutes or until the ancho chiles are rehydrated and soft. Put the soup into a blender and add the hydrated beans. If you don’t have pintos, a great substitute for pinto beans is navy or great northern beans.
Blend the bean soup until smooth and then return it to the pan. Bring the soup to a simmer before stirring in the chicken, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour the spicy soup into individual bowls and sprinkle cotija cheese over the top as a garnish.
Pinto beans are a daunting challenge to those with minimal gardening experience. Although they are fantastic to grow in a garden, many people gravitate more toward peppers, tomatoes, and squash.
Don’t let the intimidating look of dried beans make you feel like you aren’t capable of tending to them. Pinto beans are a highly nutritious food that keeps well for years.
You and your family deserve to learn everything there is to know about planting pinto beans and turning them into delicious dinners on a regular basis.
If learning how to grow pinto beans has given you a boost of confidence in your gardening skills, share this guide for growing pinto beans on Facebook and Pinterest.