No matter what you call them (asparagus beans, yardlong beans, snake beans, or Chinese long beans), one thing is the same – they thrive in the heat and love producing all summer long. Not only that, these beans are high in protein, vitamin B, iron, and calcium, and are easy to grow. Learn how to grow asparagus beans with these 5 tips.
5 Tips for How to Grow Asparagus Beans
1. Plant asparagus beans at the right time
When summer temperatures climb, many vegetables can’t take the heat – but asparagus beans flourish. Plant them after all danger of frost has passed; it’s even better to wait for temperatures to climb a bit.
Asparagus bean seeds sprout and grow best in warm weather, and need a long, warm growing season (at least 75 days of frost-free weather). In the low desert of Arizona, plant from March through the beginning of July.
2. Choose a good location to plant snake beans
- Plant beans in loose and well-drained soil.
- Choose a spot that gets full sun; some afternoon shade in hot summer areas is okay.
- Don’t grow where legumes (peas or other beans) have grown the previous year.
- Beans don’t need overly-rich soil, but appreciate some extra compost at time of planting.
- Increase the harvest by using an inoculant of nitrogen-fixing bacteria on the seed or in the soil at planting time.
3. Plant seeds in the garden - don’t transplant them
Beans, as a general rule, should be direct sown in the garden. The root systems of beans are shallow and grow best when undisturbed. Plant seeds 1 inch deep with the ‘eye’ facing down. Space beans 3-4 inches apart.
4. Give snake beans something to climb
Asparagus beans are happiest when growing up, and will easily climb 6 to 8 feet or more. Plant bean seeds at the base of a trellis or cattle panel with plenty of straight vertical supports. Put supports in place at planting time to avoid disrupting roots of growing plants.
Allowing beans to grow vertically makes harvesting easier, and keeps the beans from being eaten by ground-living insects (rollie-pollies, I’m talking about you!)
5. Harvest asparagus beans correctly
Although called “yardlong” beans, harvest the beans when they are between 10-12 inches long for best flavor. If the pod becomes soft or spongy, you’ve waited too long; the beans inside the pod are developing and the pod’s flavor changes.
To harvest the beans, twist the bean off the vine rather than pulling. Asparagus beans are usually produced in pairs at the terminal bud. Twisting off the beans will leave the vine intact and ready to produce more beans.
Snake beans grow fast and should be harvested often. Keeping beans picked encourages more production. Leaving plants on the vine signals to the plant that its job is about over, and it slows down production.
At the end of the season, leave several beans on the strongest plant until they are mature with large seeds inside a papery husk. Save them inside in a brown paper sack until completely dry to share and plant next season.