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About Soldier Bean: Soldier beans, also called red-eye beans, come from New England, where Americans have been growing them since the 1800s. Their name is derived from a distinctive red marking around the "eye" of the bean that looks somewhat like a toy soldier.

Soldier Bean Germination: Direct sow seeds in rich, well drained soil in full sun at least a week after the last expected frost, since beans are quite sensitive to cold. If you have never planted beans in your garden before, treat the seeds with a powder inoculant to allow the process of nitrogen fixation to begin. Plant them 1" deep and 3-6" apart, in rows about 2' apart; press down the earth above them for good soil contact. These seeds rot easily in wet soil, so do not over water them. Germination should take place 7-10 days after planting. For companion planting benefits, plant beans near carrots or beets; avoid planting them near onions.

Growing Soldier Bean Seeds: After germination, maintain soil moisture; beans have shallow roots, and need water at least once a week if the weather is dry. Mulching the plants helps conserve moisture and discourages weeds. Soldier beans do tolerate some dryness, and usually do well in cool weather.

Harvesting Soldier Bean: If frost or inclement weather threatens before your beans are fully dry, pull them and allow them to continue drying under shelter. A good method for drying is to hang them upside down from their roots until the seeds rattle in the pods and are very hard. They should be completely dry 10-15 days later. Remove the seeds from the pods by hand, or thresh them by putting them in a bag and applying a heavy weight.

Saving Soldier Bean Seeds: Thresh the beans by removing them from their pods. Store them in a dry, cool place; for best germination, use them in the next growing season.

Detailed Soldier Bean Info: Phaseolus vulgaris. Also known as Haricot St. Esprit Oeil Rouge, Holy Spirit in Red Eye. Annual. 90 days. 55 seeds per oz. 18-36" height. 3-6" spacing. Produces 4-5" pods that hold white beans with a distinctive red marking over the eye.

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