Of butter beans and black-eyed beans, and other, er, beans

It’s not unusual to see imaginary people on the internet* asking where you can get butter bean seeds and whether the ones from the shops would grow; many replies suggest that the beans sold for eating have been treated (oven-dried for example) or processed in some way that would prevent them from germinating. So when I set set about trying to germinate some beans from a shop mixthe last one I expected to see any life from was the fat white butter beans.

Butter bean shoot

Butter bean showing root after three days (tuppence for scale)

Yet this morning, less than 48 hours after draining and bringing the tray of beans in to the warmth, there we have, plump, brittle little roots poking out of some of the butter beans. The other hero of the tray is what I think is the lima beans (butter bean shaped, but slightly green in tinge); they are almost sinister with the speed they are growing; I will be locking all the internal doors tonight.

So far then, roots have appeared on the butter bean, black eyed beans, mung beans, lima beans and black turtle beans. I’m not 100% sure that I’ve got the right names against the right beans, anyone know any different?

Beans beginning to shoot

Beans beginning to shoot



*some people on the internet are real


4 thoughts on “Of butter beans and black-eyed beans, and other, er, beans

  1. VP says:

    Great post! I’m going to put a link to it on my Salad Days roundup because people have been asking questions whether supermarket seeds are OK for sprouting. I’ve said yes (and already do it), but it’s great to have such an informative post with the same info 🙂

  2. Bugs says:

    Thank you, that would be marvellous! This morning the red kidney beans, the long white bean on the right at the end, and the small white and stripey beans in the centre have also sprouted shoots. I will need to compare them to my original post to assign names but it does mean that out of the 11 beans (10 from Waitrose, plus Suma), 9 of them are sprouting, and that’s without taking a great deal of care, to be honest, as it’s just an experiment about growing rather than planning to eat them.

    For the record: I soaked them for 24 hours in a cool place, drained them and brought them in to a warm (16-20c) room, and have been flooding and draining them once a day. The tray is normally covered with an old sandwich bag to keep it moist. Again, I’m not worrying too much about hygiene as I won’t be eating them, and that’s a good point at which to remind people that not all sprouting beans are edible, as you and @carllegge and @GillyInAriege mentioned on on twitter. Carl’s helpful link about this: http://www.growyouthful.com/recipes/sprouts.php

    It does also scratch the germination itch without letting myself in for disappointment!

  3. Lea's Menagerie says:

    Hey, great job!
    I may try that, too, instead of buying bean seeds to plant.
    I made 15 Bean Soup for supper last night using a packaged mix of dry beans. Maybe when I am ready to plant in the Spring, I will keep a 1/2 cup of seeds out to see if they will sprout. Then plant them all next to each other – grow my own personal bean mix!
    Thanks for great information on sprouting beans.
    Mississippi, USA

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