How to Save Bean and Pea Seed
Beans and peas are legumes. Legumes are fantastic nitrogen fixers. Legumes have perfect flowers. This means that the flower contains both a pistil and a stamen. Legumes are self-pollinating plants. Self-pollinating plants do not require insects for pollination. That is not to say that legumes do not get pollination from bees or other insects.
Snow Peas Yellow Wax Beans
As far as saving seeds from your beans and peas, there are a couple of things to be concerned about.
1. Cross-pollination- This is when a bee or other insect takes pollen from the anther of one plant to the stigma of another plant that is a different variety in the legume family. This would not cause any issues with the taste or appearance of the crop, but if you save seed from the cross-pollinated crop, you may have a plant with different characteristics than you thought you might get. Sometimes this can be good, but many times it is bad. For example a good baking type bean might cross with a wax bean yielding a plant that is not particularly good at being a fresh bean or a dried bean.
You can deal with cross-pollination by isolating your particular bean varieties in space and/or time, or by caging the plants you would like to save seed from to stop insects from pollinating. If your bean plant has very small flowers and your bees have other sources of nectar on your property, then chances are you won’t have to worry about isolating or caging, as insects will rarely cross-pollinate the legumes. If you are growing a legume with big flowers you may want to consider isolation or caging.
2. Picking the right plant at the right time- In order to save seed from legumes, it is a good idea to pick the healthiest most vigorous plants to save seed from. Once you have identified these plants, mark them with a flag, so you don’t accidentally pick them later. Wait until the pods have completely dried on the vine, then pick them and shuck the pods, or you can thresh them if you have a lot of beans. Threshing involves putting your pods in a sack and hitting the sack on the ground or other hard surface to separate the pods from the beans. The heavier beans will end up at the bottom of the sack. There is also commercial type equipment capable of threshing as well. Store your seeds in a cool dry place in a paper envelope.