Can You Plant Fresh Peas and Beans, or Just Dried?

When I planted my peas last spring, it occurred to me that I had never heard of anyone planting fresh peas before. I started asking around, and no one had ever even thought of the idea. All were raised by plucking good, dry peas and beans in moist soil in the spring.

I consulted Planting Guides and Botany Books and checked out almanacs from the mid-1800s. Absolutely none of them mentioned the possibility of planting these seeds anew! Needless to say, I had to do some research to find out if this might actually work. Here’s what I found.

Experiment

Since I couldn’t find any resources for this topic, I decided to do a little experiment. When I harvested my first pea crop of the year, I immediately planted some fresh peas to see what would happen.

Bupkis happened.

Well, this is not entirely true: fresh peas quite comfortably rot in the ground, undoubtedly storing tons of nitrogen in the soil for the next crop. It wasn’t a total waste, at least.

This confused me. After all, I’ve planted freshly grown tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and other seeds right away and they’re all fine. So what’s up with the beans?

They will germinate only when mature

Since the fresh peas had not sprouted when I planted them, I let the next batch dry on the vine before trying to plant them. However, I didn’t let them dry out enough for the pod casings to be brown and crisp. Instead, I waited until the seeds were too hard to harvest. They tasted delicious and dry and must be cooked in soup in order to be edible.

Guess what happened?

If you guessed these sprouted, then get yourself a biscuit because you are right. Not only did they sprout beautifully, but the germination rate was also higher than the dried peas I had saved a year ago.

This seems to be the magic answer I was looking for. Of course, I had to redo the experiment with several different pea and bean species to make sure I got the same results. Luckily, I did! That’s exactly what happened with black beans, fava beans, chickpeas (garbanzos) and pea soup.

These beans only germinate when they are ripe for inedibility. They didn’t need to be completely dry to leap into action! Of course, if you want to save a bunch of your bean seeds for next season, you’ll need to dry them completely.

I once made the mistake of packing nearly dry peas for planting the following spring and discovered a colorful packet of mold several months later.

If you’re looking for an ideal way to dry your peas and beans for the next year, check out our article on that topic here. Otherwise, let’s see how you can plant your freshly ripe beans as early as possible.

Create ideal conditions for germination

Therefore, in order for peas and beans to germinate, they need to experience certain conditions. In this case, they need humidity and a temperature of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit to around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can imagine, planting them sequentially as they mature on the vine means you’ll be sowing them throughout the summer and early autumn.

This means that the conditions will be perfect.

Of course, if your legume seeds are still moist and succulent, these conditions — although ideal — won’t “trigger” them to germinate. In simple words, they will not be shocked in their growing period because they are not getting the right signals to do so. Their moisture content will make them think they are still developing, so the internal metabolic activity is still slow.

It will come into action once it has dried and you offer them a great drink of water. The process of sucking down that big drink is known as contusion, and it will wake them up. Imagine it throwing a bucket of water at someone who is sleeping, instead of just a person, it’s a seed.

The giant gullet (injection!) swells up the seed so it breaks off its coat (aka testa). Germination can begin only when these cracks open.

Tips for planting beans and beans sequentially

You may not be able to plant fresh peas and beans immediately after they have developed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plant successive crops. You just need to make sure you refill the soil before planting the next batch.

Legumes fix nitrogen in the soil, so you don’t need to add any more. In fact, adding nitrogen-rich fertilizers can damage the crop. Instead, amend your soil with compost that is high in potassium and phosphorous. Be sure to work in some sand or perlite while you’re at it because these plants need soil that is well-draining.

Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and plant mature beans about 1/2 inch into it. They’ll sprout before you know it, and soon you’ll have a whole new batch of peas to offer. Then when they are cooked you can cut them and start the process all over again!

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