Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Paper Pot Beans

Yesterday I planted out a flat of beans that I had sown in paper pots on July 22. I've found that I have much better success at getting the beans to germinate and survive their first few days of life if I start them in the pots. This method works well when the garden soil is still cool which makes the seeds prone to rotting, I keep the flats indoors at night and put them outside on sunny days. At this time of year I keep the flats outside through the entire germination period. Once the beans have germinated and the cotyledons start to emerge from the soil it's safe to start planting them. I don't have as many problems with rotting seeds at this time of year but the sowbugs seem to love germinating beans and I have fewer losses to them when I plant out paper pot beans.

Here's a view of the flat at planting time. The seeds were sown into ordinary bagged potting soil with nothing else added other than some Rhizobium innoculant to encourage the formation of nitrogen fixing nodules on the roots. It's important to get the beans into the ground before they get too large to minimize root disturbance.

You can see that the roots are barely starting to poke their way out of the bottoms of the pots and the plants are starting to unfurl their first true leaves. Some of the pots look like they are duds, but I actually got 100% germination in the flat. I planted out each pot, I've found that the plants that haven't pushed their cotyledons out of the soil yet will do so very quickly after planting them out.

I plant the whole pot just deep enough to cover it completely and am very careful not to disturb the roots. Water the pots in gently rather than pressing the soil. The roots will grow through the paper into the surrounding soil and the paper will eventually rot away. Here's the patch of newly planted Rolande bush filet beans.

And this is a planting of Neckarkönigin pole snap beans. Both new plantings got covered with floating row cover which I find necessary to keep the rodents from gnawing on the tasty new bean sprouts.

It was 10 days from sowing to planting out and I could have planted out a day earlier. It's really easy to end up with a flat of overgrown seedlings (trust me, I've done it too many times) so now I always make sure to prepare a spot for the beans as soon as I sow a flat.

You can read more about how I make paper pots on one of my old posts HERE.


  1. Michelle, I'm the exact opposite. Every time I try to start beans in pots or sow them directly too early, they germinate poorly, languish and produce next to nothing. I wonder what I'm doing wrong.

    This year, I planted most of my beans in single rows and only when the weather was hot (which was late May). I might stick to this as this as it was the first time I was able to get a good crop.

  2. I like making paper pots, it keeps everything tidy until time to plant..I don't have the maker I do it with an empty medicine bottle..

  3. I tend to sprout mine between paper towels in the spring when the ground is cool. As soon as the seed starts sending out a root I plant it. Of course this method has the same problem only worse that yours does. Don't wait too long. You have to keep checking to make sure they haven't started to grow yet.

  4. I've never tried the paper pots but I've been tossing the idea around.

  5. I have to try your germinating beans in paper pot method, this is the 2nd year I lost bean seeds to critters or rotting, I planted a 4x4 bed with romano beans earlier, only 1 bean germinated, I dug around a didn't see any trace of bean.

  6. Very cool. I'll have to try making paper pots!

  7. My pole beans have been problematic to get started well for the past several springs due to cool soil conditions. I had already determined that next year I would be starting them indoors but now I am considering whether I should use the paper pots or just do a soil block planting. Your paper pots seem to be quite effective and maybe that is the route I should take.


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