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Welcome to the Pro-Organic Belize
Tropical Garden Grow Guide

Where you are the student and the teacher

kidney beans

photo credit: Utah State University

Botanic Name:
Phaseolus vulgaris
Plant type: member of the legume family
Sun Exposure
Grows best in full sunlight
Soil Preference
Prefers loamy soil not too rich in nitrogen. Best planted following corn harvest. December – January plantings help ensure harvest in the dry season.

Plant of the month June 2023

Red Kidney Beans

Red kidney beans have been a staple in Belizean diets dating back to the 1800's when they were used as ballast in ships coming to port in Belize.


Description: Dark red beans that grow in pods that are harvested when dry and used as a protein source.

How to grow:  Sow seeds 1 inch deep and 2-3 inches apart in rows 24-36 inches apart.  Germination typically takes 3-10 days.  Thin plants to 6 inches apart once they have sprouted.  Water but do not let the soil become soggy.  Do not water directly on the leaves from above, rather water from the base of the plants.  From planting to harvest takes approximately 100 days. Provide support for the beans to climb.


Insect, animal and disease control: The Asian bean thrip can be a problem.  Organic pesticides, including neem oil and insecticide soap can be used as well as picking pests off the plants as they are spotted.


Harvest: Beans are ready for harvest when the pods are straw colored and dry.  Deborah Harder recommends pulling the plants up and making shocks with the roots up to dry in the sun.  At midday when the plants are dry, pile the beans on a tarp and beat with sticks until the beans have fallen from the pods.  Next step is to remove the pods from the beans, then sift to remove any dirt with a ¼ inch screen. Store the beans in tightly-closed containers for up to one year.  The 'bean trash' can be composted or used as mulch.

Health benefits: Beans are an excellent source of protein.  They contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.

Recipe: There are hundreds of red kidney bean recipes from classic rice and bean dishes to fudge-like

brownies.  Here is a basic recipe for stewed beans that can be adapted to make chili, burgers, hummus,

salad and other creative recipes.

Stewed Red Kidney Beans

1 pound red kidney beans (about 2 – 2 ½ cups)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 cup diced onions

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

a handful of chopped fresh oregano leaves

2 teaspoons salt or soy sauce

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Soak beans in a large pot for 8 to 10 hours; be sure the beans are always covered with water.

Drain the beans, add fresh water to cover the beans.  Beans may also be boiled for ten minutes, then left to soak for an hour or two. Drain the water and add fresh water to cover. Add the coconut oil, onions, garlic, cumin, oregano and pepper.

Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for at least one hour.  Check the beans to ensure they are covered with water.  The beans may take another hour to become tender.  Add the salt or soy sauce and gently stir the beans.  They are ready to eat as they are, or can be made into other recipes.