Friday, 2 August 2013

Yardlong Beans

Yardlong Bean - does what it says on the packet.
I'm experimenting with climbing beans this year.

I've chosen several varieties to grow, inside and out. Through the year I'll be noting their germination rate, yield, health and most importantly their taste.

First up is Blue Lake, a bean which I've grown successfully outside before and which I know has a very clean taste and is stringless.
Main challenger to the Blue Lake is Cobra, which is currently cropping very well in the polytunnel and is very tasty too. I have a few on the go outside for comparison. Needless to say, those in the polytunnel are way ahead, but the outside plants may give me a longer season.

I'm also growing a couple of beans not for the whole pods but for the beans inside. Borlotti beans and Pea Beans. Again, I've grown these before, with mixed success. So I have them on the go both outside and in the polytunnel. Those in the polytunnel are already producing some nice fat pods.

But oddest of the lot are the Yardlong Beans which I've decided to give a go. They were slower to get going than the other beans and those planted outside could not cope with our climate and just slowly faded away.

The polytunnel plants kept going, though the leaf growth was never so lush as on the other beans (not necessarily a bad thing, as it lets the air flow around more). I didn't think much was happening until one day, right out of nowhere, I suddenly realised that there were a few ridiculously long beans hanging down. I almost missed them, mistaking them for the stems of the plant!

Since then they've been cropping well. You don't need many of these to fill a freezer bag. 
Other names for yardlong bean are asparagus beans (not to be confused with asparagus peas), Chinese long beans, boro, long-podded cowpea, chori and snake bean.
But yardlong bean does just fine for me.

I have read that if they actually reach a yard long, they will be too tough to eat. Ours, however, don't thicken up until they're at least a couple of feet long and it doesn't seem to affect the taste.

But I'm not one to grow a crop just for the gimmick. So at some point there will be a proper sit down taste test. I'll be looking for flavour and texture, fresh and frozen. Then I'll know which varieties I'll be selecting for next year.

All things being equal though, of course I'll go for the gimmicky one!

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