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Winged Beans

 
Casie Becker
pollinator
Posts: 1177
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
73
forest garden urban
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I bought winged bean seed last year and didn't get a single sprout when I soaked the beans and then planted them. This year I soaked the remaining beans and kept them in paper towels till a saw roots. That took longer than any other plant so far, except the parsnips. Hopefully three plants will be enough to give me a reasonable sample of this crop. I'm still soaking a few more seeds, but several have already clearly molded and been disposed of. I would have expected a longer viable life span from a bean.

I moved them into the ground today and came here to look for more information. Is anyone else here growing this? It sounds like it has a lot of potential as a plant that is truly edible from root to vine tip. In the tropics its perennial and like most (all?) beans it's a nitrogen fixer.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Posts: 9570
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I planted them a couple years ago but they never came up....
 
Rus Williams
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Zutphen, The Netherlands
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books forest garden
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EDIT: I mixed up asparagus pea with winged bean. Please see my post lower down.

We've had a couple of plants each year for a two years now.
There's been no problem with them germinating.

They have to be picked at 2 cm long, no more than 3 cm (that's 3/4 to 1 and 1/4 inch in old money) otherwise they go stringy. If they do go stringy then you can deal with them like pea-pod soup (boil then strain) to get rid of the strings. (This was a great tasting soup)

They didn't yield a great amount, (I didn't know that the whole plant was edible), but that might have been because we didn't pick that many of them. I'm not that keen on them, they're fine to eat, but there's better things in the garden at that time, my wife likes them a lot.

They have lovely red flowers, it sprawls a bit, maybe I should stake them? Slugs and snails didn't seem to like them so much.

For what we're doing and where we are at the moment I feel they take up too much space in the veggie bed and will plant a bunch of seedlings around the 3 year old trees for the nitrogen, and the occasional harvest.

For those who are seriously into the 'hiding from the hungry hordes' prepper thing, this could be an interesting plant as it doesn't look like food at all, more like a small weird bush.

That's all I have, hope it's useful.
 
Casie Becker
pollinator
Posts: 1177
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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forest garden urban
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Could there be more than one kind of plant called a winged bean? The variety I have is a vine with blue flowers. I grow runner beans also, and they have red flowers and beans that get a little stringy when large. It's easy to pull the strings out before cooking them, though. I like them closer to six inches long rather than two centimeters. I don't know if there are bush varieties of these.

I'm hoping that presprouting so they're already growing when they went in the ground will get them up for us, Tyler. I confirmed again today that my mother never had success with peas, but by presprouting them, I now have a full bed where nearly every pea came up. Seems reasonable it will work with other legumes. Time will tell, though.
 
Rus Williams
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Posts: 146
Location: Zutphen, The Netherlands
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Well I went down a rabbit hole and discovered some new things.

It seems like the common name is mixed up.
We planted these


Which are actually called asparagus pea not winged bean. LOTUS TETRANGONOLOBUS with the Lovely red/ deep crimson flower, small shrub. Because the form (logitudinal wings) is the same as the winged bean, this is where the confusion comes from.

I lifted the following from
http://www.fusianliving.com/2013/08/grow-asparagus-pea-eat-asian-winged-bean.html

The Asian Winged Beans are a different plant to the Asparagus Pea.  They are a climbing plant with long pointed leaves, whereas the Asparagus Pea plant is a small shrub with rounder leaves.  The Winged Bean plant also produces pale blue flowers, and the pods tend to be larger.

So the winged beans that you have are PSOPHOCARPUS TETRAGONOLOBUS. The beans are way bigger than the asparagus pea, with the blue flower you are talking about and are a vine of 3-4 metres and tropical perennial rather than an annual shrub.

Here are the links to the two wikipedia pages
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_tetragonolobus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winged_bean
 
Alder Burns
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Posts: 1341
Location: northern California
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I've grown winged beans a few times over the years, and did research with them in college in the '80's.  They are a truly tropical plant and the seeds need warm temperatures to germinate, much like eggplant or peppers...80 degrees or more ideally.  Even so, they are hard and will take their time....nicking and soaking till they swell is beneficial.  Most varieties are also adapted to short daylength for flowering and even if you can get them started they end up blooming quite late in the fall and you might not get much of a crop....this was the case when I grew them in Georgia. 
 
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