Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Growing Chinese Red Noodle Beans

The beans are here!  It's been about 70 days since sowing the seeds back in May and I had my first official harvest yesterday. I pulled the three fattest beans, measuring in at 16" long. They were surprisingly bendable - just like a noodle. For dinner they went raw into a chopped salad. The flavor was similar to any string bean but slightly more nutty. In the future I might pick them when they're smaller and slightly more tender. 

This is just the beginning of the harvest. I had an amazingly successful germination rate (about 100%) and all of the plants reached maturity (even those planted in the shade of some massive sunflowers).  

The bean begins with a flower, pale lavender to white, almost shaped like a clamshell. After pollination, a threadlike bean begins to form. 

It doesn't take long for the beans to stretch out and adopt that signature red color. 

After about a week the Chinese Red Noodle Bean is nearing 18" and ready to pick. They can be eaten raw, steamed, or saut√©ed just like a regular bush bean. One to two beans per person is plenty.  The plants are quite heavy producers so I'm trading my beans with other gardeners for what they've got too much of. 

The plants are also fast growers and I've supported mine with an unfortunately unattractive combination of tomato cages, bamboo canes, and willow branches. Some of the vines are trained up a few tall sunflowers in my plot too. If I had a proper trellis they'd probably be at least six feet tall. Right now they've begun growing back down on themselves so harvesting will be at a slightly more manageable height. 

The verdict? They're easy to grow, they make lots of beans, and they're fun to look at. I recommend!

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