How to Plant Asparagus Beans: From Seed to Harvest
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
- 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 Them
- A packet of asparagus beans
- Container (if you are growing it in a container)
- Recycled egg carton (if starting seedlings)
Soak the Beans
2 Days Later: Sprouts
Growing the 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.
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
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
- 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.
Have you grown asparagus beans in your vegetable garden?
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.
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.
Nutrition Content of the Beans
They are a good source of:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Gina Welds Hulse