Do you soak beans before planting?

jolj(7b/8a)April 3, 2012

If not what do you do to get beans & peas off to a good start?

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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Soil temperature is important. So generally I grow peas where the soil heats up early. My take on soaking or not to soak before is that with sandy soils it's probably more important than clay soils. I soak my peas but not my beans. I have sandy loam soil. My beans generally go into cool soils, for beans, and I don't want them rotting. I might try to experiment a bit this year with soaked beans.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:07PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I never soak mine, beans will sometimes split from soaking. Plus I use an Earthway planter and it will damage them if they are soft. The only thing that I soak is okra.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 12:27PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I do not soak beans. I've tried it in the past, and was not happy with the results. It did more harm than good; the same beans, direct planted in warm soil, had better germination. I suspect that soaking allows pathogens which might be present on any seed to infect the whole lot. Handling wet seed is yet another possible avenue for contamination.

In cases where I am trying to get a jump on the season, or where I suspect low viability, I use transplants. This overcomes the issue of poor (and/or slow) cool soil germination. Transplants will tolerate cooler soils than seeds planted under the same conditions.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 2:53AM
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Beans sprout slowly and poorly at 60F soil temputature. They do ok at 65F but I may not get that here until it is too late to plant my longer season beans. To be able to plant on my usual June 1 date, all but runner beans need to be started indoors. I do grow a lot of transplants but there is not enough room for all that I would need.

It is also possible to pre-sprout beans and I do that with all the beans to be planted on June 1 except for those grown as transplants.

After much experimentation, it appears that soaking overnight for 8 hours will result in a lot of damaged seeds. Most beans are happy with a four soak in a jar with cheese cloth over the opening followed by rinsing and draining several times a day. Many will be sprouting after 36 hours. Those that are not are given a second 4 hour soak and roots will start to appear even during that soak. This works very well for most beans. The white seed Clem and Sarah's Big Bean will not tolerate a 4 hour soak and is best started in soil free seed starting or potting mix. The white seed Brita's Footlong does fine with a four hour soak followed by a 3 hour soak the next day.

Other than growing transplants, the most reliable way I have found is to start beans in a similar way to that except that many beans are grown in a single pot or tray. A pot or tray of a soil free mix of peatmoss, vermiculite and perlite can be used to pre-sprout many beans and they will continue to grow in outdoors temperatures in which they would not germinate.

One method of sterilizing or at least greatly reducing pathogens on bean seeds is to soak them in 3% hydrogen peroxide for 15 minutes. I plan to try that with some seed this year. - Dick

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 9:14PM
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I soaked my Maxibel filet beans overnight- bad idea! Some split immediately but most rotted in the potting mix (Pro Mix BX). Of 23, I had only 5 germinate. Lesson learned. I like this hydrogen peroxide idea or use bean inoculant with no soaking. That's my next plan of action.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 10:08PM
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I'm new to this forum and will be growing beans for the first time. In fact, I'm growing veggies, except for the tomatoes, for the first time ever this year. I had no problems with any of the seeds I've planted germinating so far....knock on wood, of course!

Someone mentioned soaking Okra seeds. I had 2-year old seeds of 'Little Lucy' that I planted directly into seed starting mix (good soil mix, Fox Farms), that I had 100% germination on between 5-9 days. I really was surprised because the viability of Okra seeds after the first year, is very low I've heard and read. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Based upon the advice here, I am glad to know I don't need to soak or pre-germinate bean seeds and will proceed as I have been, by starting in seed or potting mix. Some I may direct sow into the containers they will grow in.

Thank you all so much!


    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 9:28AM
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Soaking overnight is too long for many beans.

Simply placing several in a pot or tray of moist sterile seed starting mix is the most reliable. They need to be watered more than expected as they will soak up a lot of water.

If I lived in NC and my summer started in April, I might not be so interested in pre-sprouting! Or if summers are really hot, maybe I would want an early start there too.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:27AM
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I soak my peas overnight and then sprout them on a paper plate inside a zip-lock before planting. It really helps germination and I can also easily spot bad seeds after soaking.

Beans are a different story. I only soak my beans 2 to 4 hrs before planting to avoid the seeds splitting. Also, the darker colored beans can be put out earlier in colder and wetter soil. They have skins that reduce the amount of water that it uptakes. Lighter tan, white and green seeds will split super easily if exposed to too much water and colder soils.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 7:23PM
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Thank you for your reply.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:23PM
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