Lablab - Growing Hyacinth Bean
Lablab purpureus Beans
Hyacinth Bean - Lablab purpureus
If you need a vine that is an excellent and edible quick screen, the Lablab purpureus or Hyacinth Bean is the plant for you. Besides being easy to grow, it is very beautiful with its sweet scented lavender flowers, electric purple bean pods and purple stemmed vines. Add to that the fact that it is edible and you have a perfect plant for the sustainable landscape.
Hyacinth Bean is a member of the pea family so it is a nitrogen fixer. This makes it an excellent cover or green manure crop to increase soil fertility. It is a good browse crop for deer and other hoofed animals.
Many parts of the plants are edible including the leaves, flowers, pods, fresh seeds and roots. Cooked fresh pods and seeds are eaten in a variety of dishes throughout Asia and Africa. However, dried beans are poisonous, and can only be eaten if they are boiled for a long time.
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Growing Hyacinth Beans
How to Grow Lablab Purpureus
As with any gardening project, you must first prepare the soil. I like to keep my garden as organic as possible, so I used well rotted chicken manure and leaves to amend the soil.
My objective was to grow a quick screen to block the view of the chicken coop. I am planning to remodel an ancient garden shed and turn it into a new, larger coop, but will need some help with that project.
I constructed a trellis using large bamboo and one T-post. I ran bailing twine and sisal cord horizontally to provide support for the vines.
In the "bed" I planted Contender bush beans (in the front) and Luffa Gourds and Hyacinth Beans in the back along the trellis. On each end, in the middle, I planted winter squash.
In mid May, I planted Hyacinth bean seeds (that I had saved from a couple of years ago) and they sprouted in less than a week. By mid June the vines had covered most of the trellis.
To plant the beans, mound up the soil into a row. Form a shallow trench (about 2 inches deep) with a trowel. Plant the seeds in the trench, about 2 inches apart, then cover with good soil and water well. Keep the seeds moist during germination and water well during dry periods after the beans are up.
The flowers will start blooming in late summer to early fall. If you want to have seeds for next year, be sure to let some of the pods dry out on the vine. Gather the dried pods before any freezing weather and store in a cool, dry place. We put ours in a paper bag in the house.
How to Plant Lablab Seeds
Eating Hyacinth Beans
Lablab beans are a member of the cow pea family. The shelled fresh beans can be cooked like black eyed peas or field peas. They taste a little like Lima beans, only milder. They are used in many spicy Asian and Indian recipes.
The young pods can be used like sugar snap peas in stir fry or sauteed dishes. The flowers and leaves are also edible.
Be sure that the Hyacinth beans are NOT dried. The dried beans contain high concentrations of cyanogenic glucosides so they must be boiled for prolonged periods of time to make them safe for consumption.