Chinese Long Beans: Tips for Growing Long Beans

If you like green beans, there’s plenty of them. Uncommon in most U.S. vegetable gardens, but a staple in many Asian gardens, I introduce you to the Chinese long bean, also known as garden bean, snake bean or asparagus bean. So what is a three-foot long bean? Read on to find out more.

What’s a Yard Long Bean?

In my region, the Pacific Northwest, the vast majority of my friends and neighbours are of Asian descent. First or second generation grafts, enough to enjoy a cheeseburger but not so much that they would take away from the cuisines of their respective cultures. So, I am familiar with the long bean, but for those of you who don’t know it, here’s the summary.

The Chinese long bean ( Vigna unguiculata ) really lives up to its name, as the long bean patio plant has pods up to one meter long. The leaves are bright green and consist of three small heart-shaped leaflets. The flowers and pods are usually formed in pairs. The flowers are similar in appearance to those of the common plant

The green bean, whose colour varies from white to pink through lavender.

More akin to cow peas than beans, Chinese long beans, however, have a similar taste to the latter. Some people think they taste a bit like asparagus, hence their alternative name.

Care of long bean plants

Start with the long Chinese beans from the seed and plant them like a normal green bean, about ½ cm deep and one foot or more apart in rows or grids. The seeds will germinate in 10 to 15 days.

Long beans prefer hot summers for maximum production. In an area such as the Pacific Northwest, a raised bed in the sunniest part of the garden should be chosen for cultivation. For extra care of long bean plants, be sure to transplant only after the soil has warmed up, and cover the bed for the first few weeks with a clear plastic row cover.

As they like warm weather, don’t be surprised if it takes a while for them to start growing; I put flowers on them; it can take two to three months for the plants to flower. Like other varieties of climbing beans, Chinese long beans need support, so plant them along a fence or place them on a trellis or climbing posts.

Chinese garden long beans ripen quickly and you may need to harvest them daily. When harvesting long beans, there is a fine line between perfect, emerald green, crispy beans and those that become soft and pale in colour. Pick beans when they are about ¼ cm wide, or when they are as thick as a pencil. Although, as mentioned, beans can grow up to 3 feet in length, the optimum length for picking them is between 6 and 8 inches long.

Full of vitamin A, this new product will keep your friends and family coming back for more. They can also be stored in the refrigerator for five days in a Ziploc bag, then in the crisper drawer with high humidity. Use them as you would any green bean. They are excellent on French fries and are the beans used for the Chinese green bean dish found on the menus of many Chinese restaurants.

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