Lovely flowers & crunchy pods

Have you ever tried fresh Asian long beans or Yardlong beans?  I’m talking about the skinny looking ones that are around a foot long and sold mostly in Chinatown.  You will probably love them.  They’re crispy and lightly sweet.  They don’t have that greenish taste like common string beans.  Maybe I’m just used to the taste of long beans, or perhaps I shouldn’t have eaten uncooked regular String beans to begin with.  I love to eat long beans freshly picked.  They were never fresh enough when I bought them in Chinatown, they were usually a few days old.   I missed them so much; why not grow them myself.  So, I bought the seeds.

Beans and peas are the easiest vegetable to grow, in my opinion anyway.  I remember growing beans as a science project to prove that the plants will always grow up no matter which way you orient the roots.  We grew the beans in a tube and hung the tube upside down, the beans always twist their buds up to the sky anyway.  We used beans because they grew pretty fast.  Easy!

Healthy looking Long Beans

My grandmother told me to soak beans or pea seeds for a few hours before putting them in the ground.  This will help them germinate faster.  I did.  But, instead of putting them in the ground since it was still too cold outside for tropical beans, I laid them between damp paper towels and left them in the kitchen. This way I also know which ones have germinated which ones have not.  It only took them a night and a day to stick their little roots out.  I put the ones with little roots in the starting soil; waiting for roots doesn’t waste starting soil and pots that way.  I will only start them a couple of weeks before I anticipate putting them out in the garden.  If they spend too much time in the pots they will grow too lanky and will flop over left or right, like Bill in the morning before coffee, when they get in the garden.

When they get a taste of the heat outside, they can grow a couple of inches a day.  Their flowers are also beautiful, two shades of lavender.  Every time I look at them up close, they remind me of a Georgia O’Keefe painting.  I think you know what I mean.

Once the beans develop pods, don’t let the pods grow too long or they will become too loose inside and lose the crunchiness that in part makes them so tasty.  I usually pick them when they are still young, right off the vine and straight into my mouth.  I let a couple of pods grow as long as they could one year out of curiosity to see how long they could grow.  Two feet, measured.  We couldn’t eat them since the shell became too fibrous so we kept the seeds to grow the year after.  I haven’t bought any seeds since the first batch.

This season they are already flowering.  They are an erotic looking flower.  In a couple of weeks we will have fresh beans to munch on again.