Now it’s gathering and cooking the last produce, making tomato sauce, hunkering down for winter and harvesting some seeds for next year.
I wasn’t going to bother harvesting seeds, but while I was picking the remnants of the Roma tomatoes, my 6-year-old started collecting beans pods for seeds. How could I let her down?
So I was motivated to dig a bit deeper, learn a little more and find out why we should be harvesting these seeds.
And what did I discover?
That it’s a cinch to do so cross this one off your list today.
Here’s a few reasons why you should give it a whirl this year with a step-by-step guide.
And before I forget, you’ll want to stake your beans on a trellis like this DIY PVC pea and bean trellis or you can purchase one fairly cheaply, too!
5 Reasons to harvest a few seeds this year
2.) Growing your own food organically without chemicals is safer and healthier for you and your family. Bush beans in particular take well to organic gardening and are fabulous bloomers that can provide your family with a bumper crop.
3.) Harvesting and saving heirloom green bean seeds is so incredibly easy that you’ll wonder why you’ve never tried it before.
4.) Collecting heirloom seeds is a skill that will help you become more off-the-grid and self-sufficient.
5.) Compared to buying full-size plants in 6-packs, seeds are still cheap. If you buy tons in all sorts of varieties, the cost starts to add up quick.
But glance over a seed magazine and they don’t seem that inexpensive anymore. At $2-$3 a pack for Non-GMO, organic seeds, the price multiples quickly!
Why do the seeds have to be an heirloom variety?
First off, we’re organic gardeners here!
And secondly, it’s the only guarantee that the seeds you save and plant the following year will reproduce the exact same plant.
Otherwise, you risk growing some strange, weird and funky variety that you might not even be able to identify.
It’s kind of like the summer squash I grew that was half-green, half-yellow, stripey and shaped like an Oompa Loompa. Not eating that!
Reg Flag – Watch out for hybrid plants and seeds. These are man-made and they are only good for one planting season.
Harvest and plant them the following year and the plants that grow will resemble one of its parents, grandparents or something in-between. You don’t get an exact replica and the results are totally unpredictable.
Insider tip: Any kind of heirloom bush bean works well like the Contender Bean or Kentucky Wonder Bean; two of my favorites.
Remember: heirloom seeds produce exact replicas of the plant you already have. No-name, off beat varieties may or may not do this.
Who knows what you’ll actually end up with when planted? My 6-year-old is rooting for that Jack in the Beanstalk variety. Me…? Not so much.
How-to harvest your beans
Some of your pods will be 6-7 inches long, great harvest! Save the best looking, strongest and most productive plants to pluck your pods from and try to resist the temptation to eat them first.
Avoid any plants with disease.
If left alone, you’ll notice the pods on the plant go from bright green, to sickly yellow to finally a brownish dud color.
This is a good time to harvest…when the bush beans look sickly and old. They may even have dark brown spots, a good indication the seeds are nice and dry inside.
So crack open the pods, save the seeds inside regardless of color and put the pods back to compost in the garden.
Next year, you’ll plant these hard and dehydrated seeds to get the same plant in your garden. You should get about 5-10 seeds per pod. Not bad for a minutes work!!
You don’t just have harvest heirloom green beans seeds…also consider harvesting…
Does it matter when I harvest my seeds from the pods?
But I’d wait a little longer until harvesting so they are a little drier. If you choose to harvest now, it’s fine.
When the green seeds are exposed to the air, they will become darker over time until they reach that deep, dark purple you want them to be.
If you leave the pods on the bush, they’ll start to yellow when they start to go. If you crack open a pod, you’ll most likely notice the seeds to be a light purple.
The longer you leave the pod on the bush, the darker the seed inside will become. From light purple, the seed will slowly darken into a deep, deep purple.
The seeds become this dried out, dark purple seed you’ll plant next spring. Yay!
Carefully labelled brown paper bags keep them organized and planting ready for spring.
For lesser quantities, use envelopes that are also labelled.
Never allow the seeds to be continually exposed to air as this will allow moisture in and potentially rot the seeds.
Those babelled brown bags and envelopes makes next years planting season grab-and-go. Easy peasy!
One last vital tip:
So you don’t want to yank the plants out of the soil to harvest the seeds.
After pulling the pods off the plants, till the plants back underneath with a tiller or just let them decompose over the long winter.
Beans and peas should stay right in the garden to give that soil an awesome Nitrogen boost!
So you may question why bothering to harvest at all?
Because Non-GMO, heirloom and organic seeds are still creeping up to $3 a seed pack. And I’m starting to notice I get fewer and fewer seeds in each pack as the years wane on.
So I’ll need 2-3 packs for the amount I plant in my garden.
Hmmm. Harvesting seeds takes less than 10 minutes of your time.
Your biggest challenge is remembering where you put your saved seeds until you are ready to plant next year.
Hey, thanks for the green bean seed saving tips. Just wanted to double check my strategy. I save onion, leek, radish and lots of different kinds of pepper seeds successfully year after year. I like Blue Lake green beans, and as you’ve noticed, seed is getting pricey. Thanks