How to Soak Bean Seeds Before Planting

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Soak bean seeds to speed germination.
Soak bean seeds to speed germination. (Image: Bean shoots image by Scott Latham from Fotolia.com)

Bean seeds sown directly into the garden can fail to germinate, particularly when the soil is cool and moist. They need moisture and warmth. If the soil is too cold, the seeds may rot in the ground before they sprout. Soaking bean seeds before planting will soften the outer shell of the seed and speed up the germination process. Dry bean seeds may take as long as two weeks to germinate. Soaked seeds will usually show signs of germination within three to four days.

Things You'll Need

  • 1-quart Mason jar
  • Plastic screen or cheesecloth
  • Scissors
  • Jar ring
  • Bean seeds
  • Water
  • Inoculant
  • Shallow pan
  • Stick

Cut a piece of plastic screen or cheesecloth to fit over the mouth of a 1-quart Mason jar. If you are using plastic screen, it can be the size of the opening. If you are using cheesecloth, cut a piece large enough for a 1 1/2-inch overhang.

Put bean seeds into the jar and add two times as much tap water to the jar. There should be enough water in the jar for the seeds to absorb and begin to swell.

Place the plastic screen or cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar. Screw on the jar ring to hold it in place. Place the jar in a dark location and allow the beans to soak for 12 hours or overnight.

Inoculate the bean seeds if your garden soil is poor and does not have much nitrogen. Place the seeds in a shallow pan and add just enough water to moisten them. Add a small amount of inoculant to the beans and stir with a stick until they have a little bit of powder on the seed coat. Be careful not to damage the seeds while stirring.

Plant the bean seeds immediately. They should be planted 1 inch deep and 2 to 4 inches apart. Seedlings should begin to emerge within a week.

Tips & Warnings

  • Inoculant enables the bean plants to draw nitrogen from the air and store it in their roots.
  • Inoculant is sold in small packages. It is available in most garden shops that sell vegetable seeds.
  • Inoculant is for beans and other plants in the legume family.
  • Handle the soaked bean seeds carefully to avoid damaging them when planting.
  • Beans should not be allowed to sprout in the water. The fragile roots are too susceptible to damage. Attempting to plant sprouted seeds may do more harm than good.

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