Yardlong trellis advice

csross(9)January 9, 2014

I'd like some advice on making a trellis for yardlong beans. I've never grown any before, but am thinking about growing Chinese Red Noodle. I assume they'll do well here in Riverside CA, where we have very hot and dry summers. I'm very limited on garden space, as I'm living in a rental house. I have a 4'x6' raised bed, or I could do containers. This is only my second year with a garden, so I'm still a beginner.

1. Will yardlongs grow up a single piece of string? Or do they need horizontal "crossbars" to climb up so they don't slide down?

2. I have a fence approximately 6' from the edge of the raised bed. If I tie off the string there, will the plants climb a 45 degree angle, or do they only grow vertically? I could also pound a few Tposts into the ground a foot or two outside the garden, and have them grow at a 70 degree angle. My thought is that if they're angled, they won't shade the rest of my garden too much, and it'll be easier to find and pick the beans as they're hanging down.

3. How many plants can be grown per string, or per square foot?

4. Is it possible to grow them in containers? How deep would the soil need to be?

Thanks very much.

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JCTsai(8B - Jacksonville, FL)

How to Grow Yard Long Bean, it may help


I have grown Dow Gauk yard long beans, Ned noodle yard long beans, I prefer Dow Gauk yard long beans.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 5:23PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

An angled trellis should be OK, provided it is at least 6' tall. I recommend that you use natural twine for the vertical strings. In my experience, yardlongs are reluctant to climb artificial materials (although they don't seem to mind rusted fencing). "Red Noodle" is not an especially aggressive climber, it will need some training initially - so the horizontal strings (about every 12") would be a good idea. The vines would probably slide down from a single string.

I space my yardlongs 12-18" apart, but for me, they seem to do best at about 15" spacing. You can plant them more closely, but if crowded, they will just send out fewer branches... so there is a point of diminishing returns. Crowded closely enough (I tried 6" apart one year) the plants will not climb as high, and most of the pods will be borne within a few feet of the ground.

One of the reasons for the wider spacing is that the root system for yardlongs is extensive. Because of this, I do not believe they would do well in pots, unless those pots were very large.

Yardlongs like heat, but might not perform well in dry heat. If the plants become water stressed, the pod quality will be poor - the pods will hollow, and form fiber quickly. You would also see a lot of flowers drop without setting. I recommend a thick layer of mulch around the plants, and never letting the soil dry out once flowering begins. The best year I ever had for yardlongs was a year of record rainfall... it is hard to water them too much, short of flooding them. Given adequate water, the pods will remain succulent to a fairly large diameter.

While I am not as much of a fan of legume inoculants as I once was, I conducted an experiment several years ago, and yardlongs & cowpeas were the only legumes that showed a strong improvement when inoculated. If you want to try it, Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden (in California) sells the proper inoculant for cowpeas & yardlongs.

IMO, "Red Noodle" is one of the better-tasting yardlongs, and the yield is pretty good. I like that the pods do not lose their color when cooked, like purple snap beans do. They turn a grayish color when cooked, but a splash of vinegar will restore most of their red color.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:48PM
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Zeedman: Thanks so much! ThatâÂÂs just the kind of personal experience I was looking for. I got some green yardlong beans at a farmerâÂÂs market last year, and really enjoyed them, so I thought theyâÂÂd be a cool addition to the garden. As this is such a small plot, I know I wonâÂÂt get a whole lot of production - certainly not like the 20â rows IâÂÂve seen you and others post pictures of!

I had thought about planting them in 18 gal. storage tubs, but based on your response IâÂÂll probably plant them across the North end of my raised bed. If I put them in a 4â x 1â section, would you recommend growing only 4 plants? We definitely have extremely dry summers, so weâÂÂll see how they do.

Peaceful Valley sells 2 inoculants:
http://www.groworganic.com/garden-combination-mix-inoculant.html which lists cowpeas along with garden peas and beans
http://www.groworganic.com/cowpea-peanut-and-lespedeza-inoculant-4484.html which covers cowpeas and peanuts
If it says âÂÂcowpeasâÂÂ, it should work for yardlongs, right?

Thanks very much!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 3:23PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Any inoculant that says "for cowpeas" will work. Yardlongs are just a sub-species of cowpeas, bred for their long edible pods.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 4:52PM
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I grew red noodle last summer for the first time. I totally defer to zeedman because more or less everything I know about growing beans I learned from him on here, but I put up a trellis frame made from electrical conduit (cheap) and elbow joints, then tied off and dropped twine 6' to the soil. I didnt put cross pieces because I didnt know any better. They grew up it fine, up up and up, past the 6' top bar of my frame and up into the nearby arborvitae.

I did however have trouble with something nibbling into the beans which was a bummer. but I thought they were really tasty, great stir fried with some garlic.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 8:31PM
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