For a long time, I did the whole “stick the seed in the ground and hope nothing eats it before it can sprout” method of seed starting. Then, I was introduced to the paper towel and baggie method! It works on everything I’ve tried it on, from tomatoes to beans.
Start with some seeds. In this case they’re mystery bean seeds. I was given them by a friend, who in turn was given them by a friend, and nobody knows what they are. I call them the “orca beans” because they look like little killer whales. If somebody has a more official name, I’d be interested in knowing what it is!
Put the beans on a wet paper towel – or I often use a couple of napkins.
Fold the wet towel/napkins over, so that the beans are sandwiched inside, and place inside a plastic baggie.
Be sure to fold the baggie’s top over nice and tight; you want the wet to stay inside, not evaporate! Put the baggie in a south-facing window, where it will get lots of warmth.
Now forget all about it for about a week. Depending on the seed, it might be more or less time; you can take a peek whenever you like and see what’s happening inside the baggie. Make sure the towel/napkins stay damp.
In about a week, you’ll open the baggie, and the beans will have sprouted.
Unlike planting directly into the ground, you’ll be able to see if any of your seeds are duds. Some seeds will actually have their first leaves at this stage, and you’ll want to plant them very carefully with their roots in the dirt, and their leaves above it. If they’re very small or delicate, you can use tweezers to handle them.
Beans, though, are easy. Just fill a pot 3/4 full of starter soil, and lay the seeds on top.
Then, cover them over with more dirt and gently tap it down. Put the pots back in your sunny window, or in your greenhouse. Keep them well watered and watch as they grow!
When the beans are about 5 -6″ inches tall, I plant them out in the garden. At this point the weather is good enough for them to really take off – and they are strong enough to withstand the casual predator.
This method works like a charm!