Grow a new bean plant . . . from a bean!
Place beans in small jar. Cover with water by 1 inch. Place lid on jar. Let beans soak for 8 hours or overnight.
Lightly wet paper towel with water and gently squeeze to remove excess water. Fold paper towel and slide it into zipper-lock bag so it lies flat.
Remove soaked beans from jar; discard water. Place beans in zipper-lock bag, about 1 inch apart. Seal bag, leaving 1- to 2-inch opening to allow airflow.
Make a prediction: What do you think will happen to the beans as they sit in the bag for the next few days?
Observe your results: Every day, observe your beans up close. What do you notice? How are they changing? Record and draw your observations on a sheet of paper. Use a ruler to measure any growth each day. (If paper towel appears dried out, lightly spray inside of zipper-lock bag with water. Reseal bag, leaving 1- to 2-inch opening for airflow.)
Continue observing and measuring your beans and recording your observations for at least 5 to 7 days, or until beans have sprouted.
(Don’t read until you’ve finished the experiment!)
Here in the Recipe Lab, our pinto beans had ½-inch to 1-inch sprouts after just 5 days. When we planted our sprouts in soil, they really took off! We had 5-inch-tall bean plants just 1 week after we planted them. How did your sprouts grow?
Beans are the seeds of legume plants. In nature, when the legume plant’s pods are fully grown, they become dry and delicate. When they’re jostled, say by the wind or a passing animal, the pods can easily open, letting the beans fall to the ground where, if the conditions are right, they can start growing into new legume plants.
A single bean has four main parts. The thin seed coat surrounds and protects the inside of the bean. The embryo will eventually grow into a new legume plant. The two cotyledons provide nutrients for the embryo in the forms of starch and proteins (and make up the bulk of the bean). The hilum—the little dent in the bean—is where the bean was once attached to its pod and where the bean absorbs water during soaking, in the zipper-lock bag, and in the soil.
When our pinto and kidney beans sprouted, a small white sprout was the first thing to emerge from the bean—this is the main root of the bean plant. A little later, another sprout surfaced—one that was green and curved. This will become the main stem of the bean plant. Once we planted our sprouts in soil, the stems straightened out and we also observed the bean’s two cotyledons split apart. Around this time, our plant grew its first little leaves! Eventually, the cotyledons fell off of the plant and even more leaves started to grow.