The pinto bean is one of the most commonly consumed beans in the United States. It can be eaten whole or in soups. In Austin, pinto beans are most commonly refried and stuffed in a burrito. Tex mex-loving Austinites love pinto beans, and the pinto bean loves Austin back. Although hardy to growing zone 4, pinto beans do well in the warm Austin climate and require only a minimum of care to thrive.
Find the right time to plant. In Austin, pinto beans can be planted nearly any time of the year. However, pinto bean blossoms will not set pods if temperatures remain above 93 degrees Fahrenheit, and they will not germinate if soil temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. With this in mind, the safest time to plant pinto beans in Austin is mid-May.
Prepare the planting bed. Austin soil is quite poor in most areas of the city, and pinto beans need nutritious soil to thrive. To give your pinto beans a good foundation, till the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. Spread 8 inches of potting soil followed by 4 inches of aged compost to create a raised planting bed, and till the soil again to a depth of 1 foot. Rake the area smooth.
Plant your pinto beans 3 inches deep and 4 inches apart in rows that are 2 feet apart.
Water your pinto beans slowly and deeply so that the top 2 feet of soil is quite moist but not soaking. After that, your beans will not need to be watered until 2 to 3 weeks after they germinate. Water them again 10 days after germination. Late varieties may require a fourth watering roughly two weeks after the third. The best time to water your pinto beans is early in the morning. If the pinto bean's foliage is left wet overnight, it is an open invitation to bacterial blight.
Watch your pinto beans as they grow. They will take four to eight days to germinate and should continue to grow rapidly and steadily until they are ready to harvest 70 to 90 days later, depending on the variety.
Harvest your pinto beans by pulling the pods carefully off of the plant. A good test to tell if pinto beans are ready is to bite them. If it is hard to dent them with your teeth, the beans are ready to be harvested.