We have been having pea shooter wars, will our ammo sprout?

Dried navy beans on wood
Photo credit: EESC slide collection
Q:

Long story, but we're using dried navy beans (purchased from the grocery store) as pea-shooter ammunition in the back yard. It's lots of fun (with safety goggles), but I'm afraid all these beans will germinate somewhere in the fall/spring, and then I'll have a mess in my back yard. Is there any way to stop the germination process for these beans?

- Washington County, OR
A:

Thanks for your bean question. Unlike grass seeds (and many others that size), beans don't germinate when left on top of the soil. They need to be 1 to 2 inches below ground level, to get adequate moisture for the seed to germinate. In the temps we're having, they're more likely to shrivel up than grow. However, if you have wild or domestic burying helpers (such as dogs and squirrels), they may be planted without your permission. If you keep an eye out, though, you'll see the runners. They're easy to pull. And, while you least expect it, they (being legumes) are helping bring nitrogen to the plants you want there. In fact, some legumes (fava beans, red clover, etc.) are used as cover crops to protect the soil from rain compressing it in the winter and nourish it. Free service!

 

Kristena LaMar
Master Gardener Diagnostician
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