I don’t know how it is where you live but none on the seed suppliers in my area carry red kidney beans as part of their range. Maybe it’s because they are too tender to grow in this part of the country – unlikely, or perhaps it’s because of their toxicity if they are not correctly prepared before cooking and eating. I don’t know answer for sure, but I do know that you can pick up large packs of dried red kidney beans in your local supermarket.
I love to grow the same edible crops that are used in our home cooking, and as chilli-con-carne is a favourite in my family, home grown red kidney beans are a must. With knowledge gained from last year’s trials and errors, I shall now give you my so called ‘expert’ tips in how to grow red Kidney beans from dried seed. It begins with choosing a free draining site that gets plenty of sun and is protected from harsh weather. It is also worth preparing the ground a couple of months before you intent planting you red kidney beans with plenty of mulch and farmyard manures.
How to germinate red kidney beans from dried seed
1. Create your own compost using a 2:1:1 mix of John Innes ‘Seed and Potting’ compost, Horticultural grit and top soil from where they will be finally planted.
2. Soak a handful of dried beans overnight in a bowl of luke-warm water.
3. Using modular plug trays or 2-3 inch pots – do not use seed trays as you need to keep root disturbance to an absolute minimum – sow your seeds, 1 per pot/module into your compost mix, having the bean about ½ inch below the surface.
4. Water well and then move to a warm, bright windowsill – keep moist, but do not allow the compost to become water-logged.
5. The beans will begin to germinate after a couple of days and after there have produced their first two true leave they can be hardened off for planting outside.
DO NOT EAT THE SPROUTS AS THEY ARE TOXIC!
6. Planting red kidney beans can only be considered after the threat of frosts is over and when outside temperatures are consistently reaching 16 degrees Celsius.
7. Plant seedlings 18 inches apart in rows 2ft apart.
8. Red kidney beans are prone to damage from slugs and snails so make sure that there is adequate protection against these pests as soon as the plants go outside.
9. During the growing season be aware that red kidney beans require plenty of water and nutrition otherwise the crop can fail – mulching regularly will help with this.
10. Your beans will grow as a small bush and need support during the growing season. Make sure that this in place shortly after planting – give them the same support that you would do peas such as wigwams or small stakes.
When to harvest kidney beans
Allow the bean pods to dry as much as they can before the wet weather of autumn arrives. If they are not dry enough before that time, pick them and allow them to dry off fully indoors. Once completely dry they can be stored or used for cooking.
Dried beans also contain toxins, so when cooking with dried beans they must be soaked overnight in cold water. Afterwards, rinse the beans thoroughly then boil them rapidly for 10 minutes before adding them with your other recipe ingredients.