Pinto beans are the most commonly used beans in Mexican food. These beans are also very popular in United States, and is often mashed and refried, or eaten whole in a broth. Pinto beans are a type of common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) that are oval-shaped and medium-sized with dark spots.
They are originally from Central and South America, though they are now found in Mexico and continental America as well. These beans form an important part of southwestern cuisines.
Pinto beans are high in fiber and proteins. Growing these beans at home is very easy and they can be harvested when the seed pods are fully dry. Warm climates are suitable for this plant as they take a longer harvesting time as compared to other non-dry beans.
How to Grow Pinto Beans
You need to begin planting the pinto beans when the weather is warm and the frost season has left your region. The best time to plant a pinto bean is when the temperatures reach 50 degrees. Do not plant them in cool, wet soil after the frost, as this will hamper germination and the seeds will rot.
Dig the soil to a depth of about 1½ to 2 inches and sow the seeds. Clear the area to remove the weeds and grass growing around. This is because these plants do not do well when competing with other plants for nutrition. You can spray herbicides to kill the unwanted weeds and grass, and wait for a couple of weeks before planting.
When sowing the beans, you need to place them about 4 inches apart in rows that are spaced out evenly. This space helps in aerating the soil, promoting cultivation, and also lowers the risk of diseases.
You need to mix organic matter such as peat or compost to the planting area. The nitrogen from the fertilizers will help in the growth. The soil should be well-drained as the plants tend to rot in the soil that holds too much water.
Mulch the plants well to reduce the growth of weeds and keep the soil moist. This will also prevent the pods from rotting. You need to water the plants once or twice a week. Do not add excess water as this can lead to lower production of beans or malformed beans. The plants should be watered early in the morning and not during late afternoon.
The plants need a moderate dose of fertilizer like 5-10-10, that should be added to the plant rows when they flower. Make sure you regularly remove any weeds and unwanted grass. You can harvest them when the pods are plump, full, and green.
To prevent the pods from turning yellow and dry, you can stop watering the plants about 2 weeks before the harvesting time. The plants mature in about 90 to 150 days depending on the variety.
People who enjoy indoor gardening or have no vegetable garden, can try growing the beans indoors. In order to do so, you need a flower box or an old, shallow container that can be filled with 4" to 5" of potting soil. If you use outdoor topsoil, it should be warmed up to 50 degrees before planting.
You need to place the box near a window or even outside the window, if possible, so that the plants can receive direct sunlight in the afternoon. You need to add 2" to 3" mulch between the rows.
The pinto beans need to be placed on a damp paper towel and kept in a plastic bag till they sprout. When you see the beans sprout after 5 to 7 days, you can plant them in the prepared soil. You can even try soaking the beans overnight in warm water and then plant them.
You need to dig a 1½ to 2 inch hole in the soil and place the bean sprout. The space between two bean plants should be even and about 4" apart. You need to first create a row in the center of the box as this will help you evenly space the rows.
Then sprinkle some water over the rows of planted beans. If you cannot find the rows, you can place a string over the rows after planting, to mark the area. Make sure you water lightly to keep the soil moist.
You should fertilize the plant when it reaches a height of 4" to 6" with 4-10-10 fertilizer. Then cultivate the soil in area where there are no beans placed. This will help in aeration and prevention of weeds. You should water the plants only when the soil becomes dry to touch.