The yard long bean, often known as the Chinese long bean, originates in southern Asia; Carl Linnaeus first noted its presence in the New World in 1763. Actually a member of the cowpea family, they closely resemble green beans with a slightly more intense flavor and denser texture. Yard long beans have been a popular ingredient in Asian stir fries and other vegetable dishes for centuries. These beans also have a loyal following in the Mediterranean region, being known in Naples as “faiolo e maccarone,” or “beans and macaroni,” because of their noodle-like appearance.
Sowing: Yard long beans thrive in heat and humidity, and should be direct sown when the weather stays fairly warm and the soil temperature reaches at least 75 degrees F. Make sure the soil is rich and deeply worked; these beans like full sun. Plant the seeds 1″ deep and 3″ apart, later thinning to 6-8″ apart. The rows should be spaced 3-4′ apart. Keep the ground moist until germination, which should occur within 7-10 days.
Growing: This type of bean needs to be trained on a trellis of at least 7′ to support its vigorous vining habit; tepee or trellis structures of bamboo or chicken wire often work well. Yard long beans prefer high temperatures, so if cold weather threatens protection may be needed. Since dry weather stunts the growth of the pods, water the plants if the soil completely dries out. Watch out for aphids and mites, which can be a problem.
Harvesting: These beans will be ready to harvest about 60 days after planting. For best taste and tenderness, pick these beans for fresh eating at a length of 15-20″. Since the beans grow very quickly, check the vines often. Fully mature beans can be dried and used as soup beans. Fresh beans are best used immediately, but will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
Seed Saving: Allow the pods to mature fully and dry on the vine. If frost or rainy weather threatens before your beans are dry, pull the plants and allow them to continue drying under shelter. A good method for drying is to hang them upside down from their roots until the seeds rattle in the pods and are very hard. They should be completely dry 10-15 days later. Remove the seeds from the pods by hand, or thresh them by putting them in a bag and applying a heavy weight. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place for up to 3 years.
Latin Name: Vigna unguiculata
Type: Open Pollinated, Heirloom, Warm Season
USDA Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Seeds per Ounce: 120
Planting Method: Direct Sow
Sunlight: Full Sun
Height: 80 Inches
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