RED NOODLE ASPARAGUS POLE BEAN (Vigna unguiculata), also known as Yard Long Bean, is a popular heirloom bean that is actually in the same species as Cowpeas. Grown in America since the 1800s its origins are mainland China and it likely traveled here with Chinese emigrants who were brought in to work on the great railroads. The beautiful red beans are easy to spot for picking (a plus for my old eyes), easy to grow and VERY productive over a long period of time, though they take a while to get going so plant as soon as the soil warms sufficiently. Very long pods grow up to 20" (and can grow several inches in a day) though you will want to pick them sooner. Very tender and delicious (if picked before the seeds fill the pod), no strings as in many beans, huge yields on 10' vines so it definitely needs support. For gourmands, it is a truly delicious bean cooked that retains its beautiful color. But it will become waterlogged if cooked any way other than steaming or preferably in oil. (This is very pretty in a curry served over our green Bamboo Rice sold separately in the Gourmet section, or used to create a nest for curry potatoes as shown in the photo from the IronStef blog.) Very resistant to hot, humid conditions, insects and in my garden, my furry marauders leave them alone. Grows in almost any conditions and is great for the Southern garden. 85 days. 25 seeds.
GROWING TIP: All beans and peas are legumes and benefit from "inoculating" with rhizobacteria. These bacteria do the work of taking gaseous nitrogen from the air and "fixing" or concentrating it in pink root nodules which then slough off, adding nitrogen to the soil in a form other plants can take up as a nutrient. Inoculating your beans and peas will increase germination, and the health of your plants, helping them growing large roots and thus healthier plants. Growing pole beans with corn provides an extra shot of nitrogen to the corn, a wonderful natural symbiotic relationship that the Native Americans understood very well. You will see a big difference in overall results. Healthy legumes should also be turned under the soil when production ends as they are excellent green manure for your next crops.
SEED SAVING: Toward the end of the season, let your remaining crop grow as long and full as possible. Harvest before frost hits them and let dry flat on paper. When they are completely dry and brittle, simply squeeze open at the seed points for the seeds. Let those dry again on paper until truly dry before storing.