Snake Beans

One of my newer garden additions thanks to a kind online friend who shared many of her seeds with me,  is red snake beans.

Growing snake beans on our western wall to give additional shade to our house through summer

Snake beans (Vigna unguiculata ssp. sesquipedalis) are native to East and South-East Asia making them ideal tropical and subtropical plants.  Whilst they can grow year round in my subtropical garden, the growth slows in winter. The beans can be eaten raw or cooked into meals like stirfries.

Snake bean flowers

The seeds germinate when the soil temperate is about 15°C and grow vigorously up trellises.  As I was cautioned when I received the seeds,  you can let them scramble without a trellis however they can easily become a trip hazard. It’s recommended to water the seeds on planting and then not again until the seed has germinated.  These beans are hardy, thriving on neglect and often becoming victim to too much love and water. The plant will start to produce a harvest around 10 weeks after sowing seeds and have a long harvest period.  

Harvest the beans when the seeds bumps are just becoming visible through the flesh,  usually around 30cm long, as they taste sweeter if not allowed to stay on the vine too long. It’s best to cut the harvest off the plant rather than breaking them off to reduce damage to the plant. Once harvested they can be stored in the fridge (ideally in a damp cloth or ‘the swag’ bag) for up to 4 weeks or wash, cut the ends off and place into the freezer for use in cooking at a later date. 

Know something about snake beans I’ve forgotten? Let me know in the comments!

Wondering what to do with all your wonderful snake beans? Why not try Snake Bean Baked Beans?

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