Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans: How To Grow This Ultimate Survival Food

Kidney beans are a staple in most pantries. For us, we use them all year round in every sort of dish from chili to burritos to pasta salads. We even pureed some to give to our daughter for one of her first foods.

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Kidney beans are high in fibre and protein, they have a good amount of iron and magnesium, and they have complex carbs that make you feel full longer.

I wanted to grow kidney beans at this point in our lives mostly to see how it works first hand. We also grew black beans and all the steps are the same for both. Dried beans are relatively cheap to buy in bulk right now so I’m not sure if we will continue to grow them every year.

Having the knowledge of how to grow kidney beans, how they are dried, and how to store them gives me a sense of security. We live in a ever changing world and the more knowledge you can collect the better off you are.

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What Is A Kidney Bean Seed?

Kidney beans being planted
Kidney beans being planted

A kidney bean seed is exactly what you think it would be. It is simply a dried kidney bean, that when planted, will grow into a small bushy plant to produce more kidney beans.

How Do You Plant Kidney Beans?

It is not recommended to start kidney beans indoors. They have a shallow root system and do not transplant well. Direct sowing will provide the best results.

Kidney beans require full sun (6-8 hours) and prefer neutral soil acidity. They should be planted so that each plant has 2-4 inches between them. Space your rows 12 inches apart. You can high density plant your kidney beans by staggering the rows and spacing the rows only 6 inches apart.

How Long Do Kidney Beans Take To Germinate?

Young Kidney Bean Plant
Young Kidney Bean Plant

Kidney beans are quick growers. They will germinate in as little as 4 days in ideal conditions. Once germinated they will shoot up large green leaves and, in about a week, will start growing their first true leaves.

How To Take Care Of Kidney Beans?


Keep the soil moist without being water logged. Kidney beans have a shallow root system so they will need consistent water throughout the growing season. Check the top 2-3 inches of soil and if it is dry, then they need water.

Stop watering when the first beans start to dry out. This will help speed up the drying process so you can harvest your beans sooner.


Kidney beans do not require much care during the growing season other than watering. Like other legumes, they are nitrogen fixing plants, in the most basic terms that means they naturally add nitrogen into the soil, so they do not require a fertilizer like other vegetables.


Mulching is very important for kidney beans. Their shallow roots will benefit from a good inch or two of mulch to prevent the need to water as often. Our favourite types of mulch to use for beans are grass clippings, straw, or old wood chips.

What Do Kidney Bean Flowers Look Like?

Kidney bean flowers are small white flowers with soft delicate petals. They are self pollinating so you don’t need to worry about that. This makes beans great for greenhouse gardening since a lot of pollinators won’t go into a greenhouse.

Kidney bean flowers
Kidney bean flowers

How Long Do Kidney Beans Take To Grow?

Kidney beans are a long season crop. They need to be planted after the risk frost in your area has past, and they need a fairly long growing season.

From planting to harvest expect 110-140 days of growing. In zone 5b we have just enough of a growing season to plant our beans at the end of May and harvest in September/October.

Green kidney beans still on the plant.
Green kidney beans

When Can You Harvest Kidney Beans?

Kidney beans are ready to harvest when the outer shell of the beans are dry and pale beige colour. You can also shake a bean pod and you should be able to hear the beans rattling inside. Another test you could do is simply open up one bean pod and try to squeeze the bean. If you are not able to squeeze it, then it’s ready to be harvested.

  • Do not harvest beans after a rainfall or during the early morning when there is dew on the ground.

Can You Harvest Kidney Beans That Aren’t Completely Dry?

If you’re running out of time in your growing season or live in an area that has a shorter growing season, all is not lost for you. You can harvest your beans that have started to turn brown but aren’t quite dry yet.

To do this, pull out the entire plant and hang it upside down in a warm dry place to let the beans completely dry while still on the vine.

Harvested Kidney Beans
Harvested Kidney Beans

Quick Way To Shuck Dried Beans:

There are a few ways to remove beans from the pod once they are fully dry. A common method is to get a burlap sack, put all the beans in the sack and beat them with a stick. Another method if you have a lot of beans is to put them into a large Rubbermaid container and stomp on them with your feet.

We harvest a modest amount of beans so what I did was get a large container with a lid, I used an old coffee container, put the beans in and pop the lid back on. Shake the container around for a few minutes and the majority of beans are dislodged from the pods.

Once the beans are removed from the pods they can be winnowed using a small fan to remove any loose broken bits of the pod that’s left from the beans until you only have beans.

How Do You Store Kidney Beans?

Kidney beans in a Ziploc bag for storage.
Kidney beans in a Ziploc bag for storage.

The best way to store kidney beans is in a glass jar with a lid or a plastic bag that you can shut. Keep the beans in a cool dark place and away from moisture until you need to use them.

You can use your dry beans as food and when it comes time again you can plant them and start the cycle over again.

How Long Do Dry Beans Last In Storage?

THIS is what makes kidney beans the ultimate survival food. If kept in proper conditions they will last almost indefinitely. You can take them out whenever you want to cook some up and they are almost a complete meal in and of themselves.

We hope you enjoyed this growing guide. If you did make sure you check out the other growing guides, seed saving guides and our recipes. We are growing our website with more articles all the time, and we invite you to grow with us. If you have any questions about kidney beans or would like to share some of your knowledge with us please leave a comment below.

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