Growing and harvesting beans in a balcony container garden is easy. Unlike underground foods (like garlic), it's easy to tell how many beans your plant has produced and when they are ready to be picked. You can have green snap beans or dry pinto beans from this one container plant - you just have to choose which you'd like to eat, and then wait the appropriate amount of time before harvesting your bean crop (which is about 70 to 100 days after sowing the seeds).
Keep in mind when planting your beans that you will not get a huge crop from your plant container. Unless you grow a large number of bean plants on your balcony container garden, you may not even have enough beans for one dish. But growing and harvesting this fast-growing container plant is an interesting experience that ever vegetable gardener should have at least once.
If you're growing a bean plant for snap beans, you'll surely know when to harvest them. Whenever they look delicious enough to eat, they're probably ready! When they're green, plump and 4 to 6 inches long, squeeze the bean pod. If it is not firm, wait a couple more days. Once you believe the beans are ready, open one to make sure the beans are mature and filling the pod. Then it is time to harvest the beans from your balcony kitchen garden. Cut off each bean pod. After the harvest, the bean plant won't produce any more pods. If you want dry pinto beans, however, you'll need to wait until the plant dies, and let the green beans dry. Those tasty-looking green beans will shrivel into thin, gray pods. When they've turned from plump green pods to yellow, stop watering the plant and wait for them to completely dry out. Once they're dry, pick them off of the plant and crack them open. Inside each pod, a few pinto beans will be waiting for you! Now is the time to tear the rest of the container plant down.
You can store the dry beans in a cool, dry place for cooking later, and keep a few for the next bean planting in your kitchen garden.