Starting Beans from Seed: Indoors or Outdoors?

Image of Beans

Bush bean Cabot sets its pods at the top of the plant, so you don’t have to crawl around hunting for the beans!

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 England, sow them indoors two to four weeks before the last frost date.  So, which is actually better?  Well, there are advantages to both methods.

Image of Beans

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

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.

Image of Beans

Popular Yin Yang is a hardshell bean, so it stores for months!

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.

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