Starting Beans from Seed

How best to start your bean seeds.

With most vegetable seeds there isn’t too much argument about when to start them. With bean seeds, though, the debate rages on. Most American gardeners sow their beans directly, but many, especially in New England, sow them indoors two to four weeks before the last frost date. So, which is better? Well, there are advantages to both methods.

fresh green beans from vegetable garden

Whether you start your bean seeds indoors or out, the plants will eventually need vertical support. These biodegradable bamboo stakes work beautifully!

green beans on stake in vegetable garden

Sowing beans outdoors after the last frost cuts a step from the entire process, which is, for most gardeners, a good thing. Bean plants are sensitive to transplant shock to the roots and sowing directly removes that risk. Beans are also very quick growers, which means that getting that early start is less important. Beans are also susceptible to rotting before they germinate, which can create problems and waste seeds when starting indoors.

Starting your beans indoors, on the other hand, does give you a couple of extra weeks growth early in the season. Even with something as fast-growing as beans, being able to harvest two or three weeks earlier makes a lot of gardeners happy, especially when staggering plantings of determinate varieties. Starting your bean seeds indoors also prevents squirrels and birds from digging them up, which is a problem that many urban gardeners report. Root shock can be avoided when starting beans indoors by starting the beans in peat pots or the 8 Mega-cell Bio Dome. Plus, as many elementary school students can tell you, a windowsill filled with tiny bean sprouts can be a very fun thing.