Navy beans are little powerhouses that are packed with nutrients and have been a favorite food for ages.
How to grow navy beans? Whether you’re new to gardening or a pro, learning to grow navy beans is like a fun science project.
You’ll need to know where to plant them and how to take care of them as they grow. Keep scrolling to learn basic steps to grow navy beans so you can enjoy many yummy dishes later. Let’s get started!
What Is A Navy Bean?
A navy bean is a small, white bean that’s about the size of a pea. Sometimes, they are known as haricot beans, Boston beans, or pea beans.
These beans were named “navy beans” because they were commonly used as food in the United States Navy in the past. They are a common bean variant – part of the legume family – with a mild flavor.
Navy beans are easy to find, both dried and canned, and you can even grow them in your garden if you have space.
What Are The Benefits Of Navy Beans?
A Nutritional Powerhouse
Navy beans boast abundant fiber, protein, and essential nutrients like iron, folate, and magnesium. Cultivating navy bean plants in your garden grants direct access to these valuable nutrients.
A Sustainable Plant
Nurturing your navy bean plants contributes to lowering carbon emissions. This reduction stems from the decreased distance food reaches your table.
Moreover, navy beans control nitrogen level in the planting soil, fostering soil health and minimizing the use of synthetic fertilizers.
Growing navy beans is simple and budget-friendly because the seeds are usually not expensive. This makes navy beans growing a wallet-friendly way to create nutritious and versatile bean dishes.
You can add navy beans to various dishes, spanning salads, steams, soups, and more. By planting navy bean crops, you can explore diverse recipes and relish the delectable flavor of freshly harvested navy beans.
How To Grow Navy Beans?
To grow navy beans, choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Plant seeds after the last frost, control weeds and diseases and moisten the soil.
It’s best to control the right temperatures and properly care while planting them.
Site Selection And Preparation
Choose a sun-drenched location for your navy bean plants. They require full sun, meaning they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Ensure the soil is fertile, well-drained, and slightly acidic to neutral (pH 6.0 to 7.0). Before planting, prepare the soil by adding well-rotted organic matter or compost to enrich its nutrients.
Planting Timing And Soil Temperature
Wait until after the last spring frost to sow seeds. You should plant navy beans when the soil temperature has warmed up because they are sensitive to cold.
Soil temperatures should ideally be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Remember that planting navy beans in cool, damp conditions can cause the seeds to rot.
Seed Preparation And Planting
Soak the navy bean seed in compost tea for 25 minutes before planting. It helps prevent diseases and speeds up germination. Plant the seeds about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 4 cm) deep in the soil.
Remember that most bean varieties germinate poorly at soil temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).
Spacing And Row Arrangement
It’s best to plant the navy bean seeds around 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) apart and maintain a minimum 2 feet (60 cm) spacing between rows.
This arrangement provides the plants with adequate room to grow and develop.
Watering And Moisture Management
You should keep the soil evenly moist, but don’t let it be waterlogged. The Navy bean plant requires consistent and even moisture, especially once they start flowering.
Overhead watering in the morning to prevent disease. Besides, aim for about an inch of water per week, adjusting based on weather conditions.
Temperature And Sunlight Requirements
In warm weather, Navy beans usually thrive quickly, with temperatures between 65 to 85°F (18 to 29°C).
They’re sensitive and vulnerable to frost, especially in cold weather, and might suffer damage from light frost. However, they don’t grow well when temperatures exceed 85°F (29°C).
Mulching And Weed Control
First, apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants. It’s best to choose aged or reusable straw or grass clippings.
Mulch can help retain soil moisture, keep the soil cool, and control weed growth.
However, do not allow the mulch to cover the plants’ base or stems. It can ensure proper air circulation, sunlight exposure, and prevention of excess moisture buildup.
Fertilization And Soil Enrichment
Navy beans usually don’t require heavy fertilization during the growing season. Side-dressing your beans with an ammonium nitrate fertilizer after flowering and pod formation can boost plant health.
Moreover, navy beans’ ability to fix nitrogen can also enrich the soil naturally.
Crop Rotation And Soil Health
You should avoid planting beans in the same spot more often than once every three years to prevent issues.
After harvest, compost the bean plants by cutting them at the root and tilling the rich nutrient roots back into the soil. This can contribute to soil health.
Pest Monitoring And Management
Be alert with pests like aphids, blackflies, spider mites, bean beetles, cutworms, and more. It’s best to keep a close eye on the plants and apply suitable remedies if you notice any infestations.
Employ integrated pest management techniques, like handpicking pests or using natural remedies, to control their populations.
Disease Prevention And Control
Navy beans can be susceptible to powdery mildew. Like white spots on green bean leaves, powdery mildew on navy beans can cause the plant to wilt over time.
Besides, other diseases, such as anthracnose and common bacterial blight, can harm the navy beans, leading to stunted growth. Apply good sanitation by removing and composting infected plants.
Besides, choose disease-resistant bean varieties when possible and consider spacing the plants for adequate air circulation.
How To Harvest And Store Navy Beans?
Similar to the Pinto bean plant life cycle, navy beans also go through 3 main phases – seedling, growing, and harvest.
The process of bean harvests should be timely and attentive. Optimal harvesting time is when the pods are firm and can be easily snapped.
Look for pods that are about as thick as a pencil. Waiting too long can lead to overgrown and tough beans, so always keep their development in check.
Gently pull each bean from the vine or snap off the end if immediate use is planned.
You can spread all the harvested beans on a dry and clean surface for drying. Depending on your local humidity and temperature, the drying process typically takes a few days or up to a week.
It’s best to aim to dry the beans in a shaded area to prevent sun exposure that could reduce their quality.
When you feel the beans fully dry, it’s time to take the beans out of their pods. You can shel the beans manually or by utilizing a tool like a bean sheller.
This step separates the edible beans from the pod’s outer covering.
After shelling, you should take a moment to inspect the beans. Get rid of any debris, such as twigs or leaves that might have made their way into the collection.
Check for damaged beans as well and discard them if necessary. Ensuring the beans are clean contributes to their overall quality.
A dry and cool place, like in a cellar or pantry, is ideal for preserving the dried, cleaned beans for later use.
The key to successful storage is using an airtight container, such as a jar, or a tightly sealed plastic bag. This prevents pests and moisture from affecting the beans.
When properly dried and stored, navy beans can maintain their quality for several months, offering a lasting supply for your culinary endeavors.
Where Do Navy Beans Come From?
Navy beans trace their origins back to ancient times in Peru. These beans have a rich history spanning several millennia, with their beginnings in the Peruvian region.
Interestingly, despite their historical origins, their name connects to the U.S. Navy due to their extensive use during the early 1900s.
This usage was particularly notable aboard Navy warships, where their exceptional shelf life, economical cost, and additional nutrients made them a staple ration for U.S. sailors.
This prevalence earned them the moniker “navy beans.”
What Are The Best Companion Plants For Navy Beans?
A prime example of companion planting is the Three Sisters Garden, an ancient Native American method featuring corn, beans, and squash.
Corn provides shade and thwarts squash pests while supporting climbing bean plants. Beans enrich the soil and benefit all crops.
The squash’s broad leaves serve as a protective mulch, conserving moisture and suppressing weeds. Additionally, the squash’s prickly vines deter raccoons from disturbing the corn.
Learning how to grow navy beans involves finding the right spot, proper care, and a touch of companionship among plants.
By giving them ample sunlight, space, adequate watering, organic fertilizer, and attention to moisture, these beans thrive and give back to the soil.
It’s a simple yet rewarding process that lets us enjoy nutritious homegrown beans while learning from nature’s balance.