Aspargus Beans

Posie(z3 MN)August 20, 2006

Does anyone grow them? This is the first year I have grown them. They are two feet long but someone told me that they need to be cooked in a certain method. Do you have any info about this? Woould appreciate hearing about it.

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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

You want to harvest asparagus beans (A.K.A. yardlongs) when about 1/4 inch thick, before the seeds begin to bulge. They are best cooked lightly, such as in a stir-fry. When I cook them alone as a vegetable, I steam them from 5-10 minutes; start testing after 5 minutes, and remove from heat immediately when done.

If the pods are allowed to dry on the vine, the dry seeds can be prepared the same as blackeyed peas.

Incidentally, if you are in a short-season area (Minnesota would certainly qualify) you would benefit greatly by starting asparagus beans in peat pots. They germinate very quickly (3-5 days @ 80 degrees F). Start them about 14 days earlier than the recommended planting date for cowpeas, and put them in direct sun _immediately_ after germination (they get leggy very quickly indoors).

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 11:40PM
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Posie(z3 MN)

Thanks for the info, I appreciate that !

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 12:48PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Yard long beans are much used in Chineses cooking. The recipes in The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo are too long to post here because she goes into great detail about the cooking method. If you do some searching on the web, I'm sure you will find some good Chinese recipes for yard longs. I like them in a spicy, Szechuan stir fry style.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 11:41PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Thanks for the info, Jimster; that book sounds worth checking out. My yardlongs are just now hitting full stride, and I'll be picking a lot in the next few weeks... new recipes would be a pleasant change of pace. I grow a lot of other Asian veggies, so that book will get a workout.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 4:56PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Irene Kuo's book apparenty is out of print. It's easy to get a used one at a cheap price though and I highly recommend it. It's not just a recipe book. She's meticulous in describing methods, which makes a huge difference because you understand the results you are striving for. I have what I consider THE book for each of the ethnic cuisines which interest me. For Chinese, this is it.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Key to Chinese Cooking at

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 6:08PM
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I cooked them all the ways I would regular pole beans and just loved them. There are less strings when they are not allowed to get too big. I loved them.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 7:23PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Finally able to post some photos... pictures of this year's crop of Yardlongs:

Black-seeded yardlong from a Filipino friend (probably Liana)

"Chinese Red Noodle" yardlong

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 1:52AM
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Zeedman, those are beautiful! We grow an heirloom called Georgia Long. A couple years ago I had correspondence with and older gentleman over at Dave's Garden, who seems to know a LOT about the history of many varieties. He mentioned that "Long beans" were a novelty in the late 1800's but never really caught on for general use. Apparently Georgia Long, which I got through a Seed Savers Exchange member back in 1985, was a hold out from that "first line of immigration." Anyway, it's just an asparagus bean with brick colored seed. Ours were planted lat this year, and are just hitting their stride now too.

I noticed that all my cowpeas were plagued with aphids this year. More so than other years. Perhaps this was due to the dry summer we experienced. Anyway, I've selectively misted the aphids with a soap solution, trying to avoid the lady bugs and lacewings. Now, coming up on the end of the season, the beneficials are winning the war. Aphids are down and beneficials are everywhere!

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 12:30PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

I like those pics!

Do you measure your yield in pounds, bushels or yardage?


    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 2:33PM
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