Black beans, also known as black turtle beans, have deep black seeds and require about 80 – 90 warm, frost-free days to properly mature. Dried, they are popular in soups and stews, they are also served by themselves or in salads such as 3-bean salad.
Black beans come in bush and pole varieties. Bush varieties require more space, and produce one crop. Pole beans are more labor intensive, they require supports such as a stake or trellis but will generally produce a higher yield. They can be planted in more confined spaces, so long as they have ample room for their vines to grow.
Do not even think about planting them until any danger of a late frost has passed. They simply will not tolerate cool damp weather. Average soil temperatures should be around 70 degrees F for successful germination. They also do not transplant well, if you start Black beans indoors, it is advisable to do so in peat pots that can placed directly into the soil without disturbing the root system. You might also consider using black plastic mulch to warm the soil.
They produce best in full sun, at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, they will tolerate moderate shade in warmer climates. A well drained site is advisable. Soils with pH 6.0-7.0 have yielded the most successful harvests.
Related: How to Grow Adzuki Beans
Black beans perform best in non-compacted, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0 -7.5 . Add well rotted compost or manure before planting and your black beans should be good for the season [Assuming the pH is correct].
Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers. Like all legumes/beans they will fix nitrogen in the soil, which makes it available to any other plants grown near to , or in succession with them. A light feeding of bone meal or fish emulsion should suffice if you suspect nitrogen deficiency.
Avoid planting Black Beans, or any beans for that matter in succession with other legumes / beans. Good companion plants for Black Beans are strawberries, cucumbers, melons and celery . Avoid planting near to, or in succession with onions or garlic.
See – Companion Planting
Prior to planting, soak the black beans overnight . Sow them about 1 1/2 inches deep with the eyes facing down. Germination should occur within 2 weeks at most, sometimes depending on conditions and cultivar they can germinate in as little as a week.
Plants should be spaced about 1/2 foot apart, but this of course will vary with slightly different cultivars- always reference the seed packet. Certain varieties will require more spacing to allow for adequate ventilation.
Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy, this can easily lead to rots. Black beans will tolerate mild drought before they tolerate excessive moisture. Also try to avoid getting the foliage overly wet, this is an invitation for mildew and fungal diseases. An organic mulch will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Black Beans have shallow roots, so when weeding care should be taken not to damage the root system Hand weeding is best.
Black beans can be picked after 90-100 days when they are firm and dry. Some varieties can take as long as 140 days. Bush varieties will mature simultaneously, pole beans will mature in intervals. They can also be harvested when the pods are still crisp and green and starting to swell.
Common pests are aphids, beetles, leafhoppers and mites.