What you’ll need

  • Empty jars (e.g., jam or pickle jars)
  • Kitchen paper or cotton wool
  • Bean seeds (purchased seeds or uncooked edible beans) e.g., runner beans, sugar snap peas, borlotti beans

How to do it

1. Fill the jar with kitchen paper or cotton wool and locate two or three beans at the side of the jar.

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2. Add water until the kitchen paper or cotton wool is thoroughly moist. The beans must not stand in water. Place the glass at the window.

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3. Regularly moisten the paper or the cotton wool with water. Ensure the beans have enough light and heat. After around three to seven days, the bean will take root and start growing out of the glass.

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4. After around two weeks, you should see the first leaves growing on the bean.

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5. As soon as the bean has several, tall-growing leaves, you can remove it from the jar (including the roots) and transfer it to the garden or a pot with a stick that it can grow around. Depending on the type of bean, after around four to six weeks, beans will form from the flowers. You can then harvest and cook them. Please do not eat them raw, as most of them are poisonous!

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Topsy’s tip

  • Keep a “bean diary” and each day make a note or draw how your beans have changed. What’s new? What changed? Keep a record of all of the stages of growth.
  • Try out different bean types in different colors and shapes. What’s the difference?
  • Sugar snap peas can be eaten raw. It’s best to harvest them early, when their aroma is best.

Learn with Topsy

When you plant vegetables, you need to know the right time and conditions for good growth. The time of year and temperature must be right and so too must the nutrients in the soil and moisture levels. Light levels must also be correct.

Were you able to observe each stage of your bean’s growth? It’s a fascinating journey at every stage. In simple terms, plant growth can be understood as follows:

  1. A seed is planted in the soil (in our experiment we placed bean seeds in cotton wool or kitchen paper so that we could observe them carefully as they grew).
  2. The damp and heat of the soil causes the seed to grow and soften, and a small root then grows out of it.
  3. The root grows downwards towards the earth and gets bigger and longer. It develops lots of little branches so that it can absorb more water and nutrients (it’s easy to observe this with your bean in a jar).
  4. A tiny sprout (= little plant) then grows upwards out of the seed towards the light and breaks through the soil surface.
  5. The first few leaves appear.
  6. The plant and its leaves continue to grow steadily, and soon the first flowers appear.
  7. Insects drink the flowers’ nectar and pollinate them from other plants of the same type. Pollen can also be carried from plant to plant by the wind. Some plants are self-pollinating, such as your bean plant.
  8. The pollen fertilizes the flower, on which fruit and seeds then grow.
  9. When the flower fades or the fruit is ripe, the seeds are also fully formed. This cycle then starts again from the beginning, when the seed falls to the ground and a new plant begins to grow.