How to Harvest Black Beans

Black Turtle beans are some of my favorite beans to grow. Not only are they easy, but oh-so-delicious when combined with onions, oregano, garlic and olive oil. Very similar to black bean soup, I love this mix of cooked beans and rice–a definite “must eat” in our household.

black beans for dinner

Growing black beans requires warm weather and a mild fertilizer and that’s about it. For your first batch, you can order an organic black turtle bean online (or other variety). Plant bean seeds (bean and seed are the same thing) about an inch deep and water well.  In a month your bean pods will form and in two months, you’ll be looking to harvest!

But how do you know when your black beans are ready? I mean, these are what we call “shelling” beans, which means we don’t eat the pod as a whole–like we do with pole beans or garden peas. We have to open the pods, remove the beans and dry them.

black beans at maturity

With this variety of black bean it’s a no-brainer. When your pod turns a beautiful deep eggplant color, your beans are ready to harvest.

“What happens if I’m on vacation and I miss the peak harvest?”

Good question. Happens to me all the time. (Didn’t I tell you that summers are for vacation?) If you miss the “eggplant” color stage, the beans can stay on the plant until they dry themselves to a nice crispy pod. It’s how nature works, after all, and why not use it to your advantage? You have to dry the beans, anyway. Why not let Mother Nature do some of the work for you?

kidney beans ready to harvest

Ultimately, these beans are going to “pop” out on their own and replant themselves in the nearby soil. Why not spare yourself some trouble? :)  The kidney beans pictured above are a prime example. See how they’ve turned tan and crispy? Your black beans will do the same, only they’ll retain their gorgeous dark purple tones.

Either way, you can pluck them at the peak of maturity or allow them to “dry on the vine” — your choice. Once you decide to pick them, remove beans from their pod and allow to dry completely. Caution: Don’t eat them yet. You must soak these beans prior to ingestion, else you get a sick belly.