Maybe I cheated a little. This photo should be familiar to every fisherman since the invention of the camera. While not truly a yard in length, these beans are still huge compared to my Old Homestead and Rattlesnake beans. They are Vigna unguiculata sesquipedalis, the yardlong bean. Also known as snake beans or asparagus beans, this south Asian crop is actually a variety of cowpea, closely related to our black-eyed peas, and is not even in the same genus as our green beans.
Yardlong beans thrive in warm weather, so I planted them in the last week of February, right as the weather began to warm up here. They didn’t do much growing until the end of March, when we began having consistently warm days. The first bloom happened on May 4th, and almost exactly two weeks later, we had our first harvest.
The subspecies name of this plant, sequipedalis, means “a foot and a half”, a much more realistic description of the length of the bean. The biggest problem that I’ve had with them has been aphid infestation, which is easily handled by mixing a tablespoon of dish soap into a spray bottle full of clean water, and soaking the aphids. They die almost immediately, and the soap is harmless to other insects as soon as it dries, so there is no residual effect on pollinators. They seem pretty resistant to the nematodes that are killing my green beans, although some of the plants are a little bit stunted. Since nematodes don’t move very far, rotating my crops annually should help with that. I am also planning to grow a cover crop of Sudangrass later in the season, which is a natural suppressor of nematode populations.
From a culinary standpoint, treat yardlong beans the same as green beans, except that they have a richer taste, almost nutty in flavor. I stir-fried mine, which is how I normally cook beans, and they turned out delicious. By far superior in my mind to either of my pole bean varieties.
This was only the first harvest (1/3 lbs) and the plants are covered in flowers and smaller beans, so I expect this to be the most productive of my beans this season.
~The Homesteading Hippy