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How to Plant Asparagus Beans: From Seed to Harvest

Updated on August 22, 2017
Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

In addition to being a certified herbalist and aromatherapy consultant, Gina finds the unrelenting allure of gardening very strong.

Mature asparagus beans
Mature asparagus beans

What are Asparagus Beans?

The scientific name for asparagus beans is Vigna unguiculata ssp. sesquipedalis, which is a legume cultivated to be eaten as green pods. It is also known as the

  • yardlong bean
  • bora
  • bodi
  • long-podded cowpea
  • asparagus bean
  • Asian long bean
  • pea bean
  • snake bean
  • Chinese long bean

Despite the common name, the pods are actually only about half a yard long; the subspecies name sesquipedalis (one-and-a-half-foot-long) is a rather accurate approximation of the pods' length.

This plant is of a different genus from the common bean. It is a vigorous climbing annual vine. The plant is subtropical/tropical and most widely grown in the warmer parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and southern China.

Their sweet and mild flavor resembles a mixture of asparagus, mushrooms, and beans, or black-eyed peas.

What You Need to Grow Asparagus Beans

  • A packet of asparagus beans
  • Trellis
  • Soil
  • Container (if you are growing it in a container)
  • Recycled egg carton (if starting seedlings)

Soak the Beans

It is recommended that you soak them for 24 hours before planting. Neither the foliage nor the seed of this Asian pole bean plant resembles green beans.
It is recommended that you soak them for 24 hours before planting. Neither the foliage nor the seed of this Asian pole bean plant resembles green beans. | Source

2 Days Later: Sprouts

I used recycled egg cartons as seedling starters. They sprouted very quickly.
I used recycled egg cartons as seedling starters. They sprouted very quickly. | Source

Growing Asparagus Beans in Containers

You don’t really need very big containers.

  • A 3 gallon container can grow 2 plants.
  • Make sure that the depth of the container is 8-12 inches.
  • You can use a clay pot or a plastic tub.

The soil type did not matter, which shows that asparagus beans are not very picky about the soil that they are planted in.
The soil type did not matter, which shows that asparagus beans are not very picky about the soil that they are planted in. | Source

For Direct Sowing

If you choose the direct sowing method:

  • Sow seeds 3 inches apart and cover with 2 inches of fine soil.
  • Firm lightly and water gently.
  • Seedlings emerge in 10-14 days depending on soil and weather conditions.
  • Keep sowing bean seeds every 2 weeks for a constant supply of beans.

Build a Trellis

I used some heavy duty wire fencing and rebar to build the trellis.  I also put in a tree branch, as I was not sure just how heavy the vines would become.  One plant was also planted at the base of the branch.
I used some heavy duty wire fencing and rebar to build the trellis. I also put in a tree branch, as I was not sure just how heavy the vines would become. One plant was also planted at the base of the branch. | Source
After about 5 days after germination, the seedlings are ready for transplanting. You could wait for the cotyledon to develop, but it's not necessary. Once I put the seedlings in the ground, they really took off.
After about 5 days after germination, the seedlings are ready for transplanting. You could wait for the cotyledon to develop, but it's not necessary. Once I put the seedlings in the ground, they really took off. | Source

How to Plant Asparagus Beans

  • In the springtime, wait until the soil has warmed to a warm 65 degrees before you plant the asparagus beans.
  • They need full sun to do well. They need a long, warm period to grow and start setting flowers, so don't be surprised if they don't take off until the temperature heats up and stays there. They will stop growing in cold weather.
  • Sow seeds and set up poles, stakes, or some form of trellis for the climbing vines. Provided with sturdy support, the vines grow quite long, and will double back upon reaching the top.
  • I built a trellis shortly after starting the seedlings in the egg cartons.
  • They grow up to 18 inches long, and pods are ready for harvest in 75 days after seedlings sprout.
  • I fertilized using moringa liquid fertilizer.
  • The mild tasting, sweet string-less pods are excellent in vegetable stir-fry combined with pork or shrimp.

How to Make Moringa Fertilizer

Vegetable Gardening Tips for Growing Asparagus Beans

  • Mulching increases yields. I used pine needles.
  • Beans share space well with celery, radishes, and staked tomatoes.
  • When they are about 15 inches in length is the ideal time for harvesting.
  • At harvest time, the slender beans should be about the thickness of a pencil.
  • If you wish to save your seeds for the following year, let a few of the ripened pods to stay on the vine until they are dry.
  • Cutting off the tips of the vines forces them to send off side shoots and create a greater yield.
  • The vines usually quit producing new blossoms when you stop harvesting, so wait to do this late in the summer after your crop has been harvested.
  • Water at the base of the vines to avoid plant problems like fungal diseases.
  • Avoid overcrowding by planting with enough space in between each vine.
  • Plant your beans every 15-20 days throughout the season to get uninterrupted supply of healthy and fresh long beans.

Help the seedlings find the trellis, by positioning them.  Soon they will be able to climb with no help.
Help the seedlings find the trellis, by positioning them. Soon they will be able to climb with no help. | Source

Have you grown asparagus beans in your vegetable garden?

See results
The flowers and resulting bean pods usually form in joined pairs.
The flowers and resulting bean pods usually form in joined pairs. | Source

Asparagus Bean Blossoms and Seeds

  • The blossoms are pinkish-lavender in color and larger than most other bean flowers.
  • The blooms make a pretty addition to the vegetable garden!
  • The pods grow very rapidly. One day, there will be a small dark green pod string, and a few days later it will have grown up to 18 inches long!
  • Be sure to check your beans every day during growing season.

The bean blossoms are pinkish-lavender in color and larger than most other bean flowers.
The bean blossoms are pinkish-lavender in color and larger than most other bean flowers. | Source
The trellis is nearly covered with vines.
The trellis is nearly covered with vines. | Source

Tips For Cooking Asparagus Beans

  • They have a mild asparagus-like flavor and are delicious sautéed or steamed.
  • They can be cooked as you would green beans.
  • They can also be blanched and frozen.
  • Their delightful taste and easy growing habits may make them your family's favorite.
  • They are delicious with salmon or mackerel.

The vines are very prolific, allowing me to harvest every day.
The vines are very prolific, allowing me to harvest every day. | Source

Nutrition Content of Asparagus Beans

They are a good source of:

  • protein
  • vitamin A
  • riboflavin
  • iron
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • vitamin C
  • folate
  • magnesium
  • manganese

I hope you give these a try. You will find that they are easy to grow, and very delicious. You will be replacing regular green beans with asparagus beans, whenever these are available.

© 2017 Gina Welds Hulse

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    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image
      Author

      Gina Welds Hulse 3 weeks ago from Rockledge, Florida

      Thanks for your feedback, and thanks for visiting. Please be aware that this hub is about asparagus beans, not asparagus. I have written another hub about growing asparagus spears, though.

    • Deborah Minter profile image

      Deborah Minter 3 weeks ago from U.S, California

      Good article. I love to cook with asparagus.

    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image
      Author

      Gina Welds Hulse 5 weeks ago from Rockledge, Florida

      Hi S Maree. Thanks for stopping by, and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate that. The asparagus flavor is not very pronounced. My youngest son loves asparagus, but he does not feel that these tastes much like asparagus. He also loves green beans, but when he tried these, he preferred asparagus beans.

      I am glad you find these hubs helpful. I love experimenting in the garden and sharing my results.

    • profile image

      S Maree 5 weeks ago from North/Central Indiana

      I love how well you describe the entire process! Is the flavor more like green beans or asparagus? I'm not fond enough of beans to grow them, but Sis might if the asparagus flavor isn't very pronounced. She's a green bean fanatic & raises hers in pots.

      Even if she's not interested in asparagus beans, I will share your article because it has lots of good grow-in-the-pot ideas!

      Looking forward to next year when I try growing tomatoes in bags of soil! Blessings to you and yours, and may your crops be bountiful!