Long beans / Vigna Sesquipedalis / Yardlong beans / Chinese long beans/snake beans/pea beans/asparagus beans belong to the legume family and are popular across the world. In India long beans are called choda, bodi, jhudunga, chori, achinga, barbati, lubiya, lobia ki phalli, payaru or chawli.
The beans are light green to red and can be grown throughout the year. They contain 34 kcal, 4.2 g protein, 110 mg calcium, 4.7 mg iron, 2.4 mg vitamin A, 35 mg vitamin C per 100 g serving. This is a climbing plant and is very closely related to cowpeas. These beans are rich in vitamins A and C. It is an annual long trailing vine usually grown on poles for support and often reaches heights of 9 – 12 feet. The plant has large pale pink flowers. The pods generally grow up to 12 to 30 inches long. This plant continues to grow after flowering and fruiting. Long beans are a warm season sub-tropical, tropical crop and can tolerate extreme heat.
In India, the pods are mainly used as a vegetable and it is cooked in varieties such as long beans stir fry, chawli ki sabzi, karamani poriyal, barbatti masala, achinga mezhkkuperatti, beans masala stir fry, long beans curry and so on. Its flavors are accentuated with grated coconut. Yard long beans as the name suggest can grow up to a yard long and is a vigorous climbing annual vine that can grow up to 12 feet. The seeds are usually red in color and the beans are sold bundled. These beans have no strings, unlike the French beans. The taste is usually bland and hence a lot of spices and flavors are added to make it taste palatable. They are usually deep-fried, stirred, sautéed, or boiled and eaten.
Yard long beans love hot, humid weathers and are fairly easy to grow. They are highly nutritious as well and contain vitamins and calcium. The vine requires support to grow when grown on a farm. Long beans can be grown at home in a terrace, a pot or container as well. They can also easily grow through the monsoon seasons.
Image source – asiangarden2table.com
Long beans can usually be planted throughout the year and can be grown in most soil types. They are heat friendly plants and cannot tolerate cold weathers. Long beans are commonly available in all vegetable markets and food malls. They are at their best when young and slender. While buying, check the freshness by trying to break one of the beans into two halves. The crisper the bean, the higher the freshness. Avoid buying the wilted or dried ones or those having brown spots or holes showing insect infestation.
Long beans remain fresh for at least 3 days at room temperature. But due to loss of moisture, it could start wilting. Hence store it under refrigeration with a relative humidity of 80 – 90 %. This will make increase its shelf life to about 5 – 6 days. The pods can be removed and frozen for around 20 – 25 days as well.
Long Bean is considered as an energy food. Long beans are a low-calorie vegetable and hence can be consumed by those on weight loss. It has good amounts of Vitamin A as well as fair amounts of Vitamin C. Being a green vegetable; it is rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, thus plays an important role in fighting cancer and delays aging. The beans offer cardiovascular protection and help lower blood pressure. They have anti-inflammatory effects and relieve inflammation in arthritis and asthma.
Long beans are usually available throughout the year and are 12 – 30 inches long, slender generally pale green to dark green colored, depending on the variety. Although red colored variety may also be seen in the market at times. Each pod consists of small edible peas within, which are light green in color. The crisp, tender pods are eaten both fresh and cooked. The tender pods are the most edible, unlike other beans or vegetables. Hence this crop is harvested when the pods are tender and at an earlier stage than most others.
Yard-long beans are one of the ancient cultivated crops. The calorie intake of the young, immature pods is 47 calories per 100 gm. The pods contain large quantities of soluble and insoluble fibers. Since the entire green pod is eaten as in green beans, sufficient amount of dietary fiber is obtained in the diet. The dietary fiber helps to protect the colon mucosa by reducing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Long beans also reduce LDL-cholesterol levels by decreasing re-absorption of cholesterol binding bile acids in the colon.
The beans contain folates that are essential in DNA synthesis and cell division. Hence it can be given to pregnant women in abundance. Yard long beans provide average amounts of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium. The body uses manganese as a cofactor for the important antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Choose smooth, firm yet flexible, fleshy, long and uniformly green immature pods. Avoid mature, tough, flabby, yellow or shriveled pods as they indicate old stock, and hence, out of flavor.
Process of growing Long Beans
⦁ Time of growing and climatic conditions –
Long beans can be cultivated through the year in hot, humid weathers. They are tropical plants that need adequate sunlight and can tolerate extreme heat. They are intolerant to cold weathers though. They tolerate heat and humidity much better than common beans. It grows well in temperature of 25 – 35 °C. Long beans are mostly planted in monsoon season.
⦁ Seed Rate –
Propagation of seeds is through direct seeding or transplanting. The seeds are planted 1 – 2 inches deep in warm soil. Germination takes place within 6 – 10 days. Soak the seeds in water before sowing for better germination. The transplants must be done in such a way so as to ensure the roots are intact. The seeds are planted 2 – 3 feet in rows and the distance between the rows should be 4 – 6 feet apart on raised beds or ridges. Plant the beans every 15 – 20 days throughout the season to get all year round supply.
⦁ Process –
The yard long bean is a vigorous climbing annual vine growing 9 to 12 feet and requires a trellis or support. The vine preferred a light, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 – 6.8 and enriched with FYM or rotted chicken manure. The plant begins to produce long pods ranging from 14 – 30 inches 60 days after sowing. Dwarf growing forms can be planted much more densely. Place poles and give wire or twine supports in rows.
Extra fertilization is not essential as long as you have enriched the soil before planting. But the plant needs heavy watering at regular intervals. Flowering occurs 5 weeks after sowing. Fruits will grow from open flower to suitable length in about 10 – 12 days. Pick the pods at the tender stage at maximum length, before the seeds mature or swell. Checking or harvesting yard long beans daily is a necessity because they grow extremely quickly in warm climates. These plants need 6 – 7 hours of sunlight daily.
If growing in a container, put up to 2 plants in a 10-liter container. Before sowing long beans in farms, treat them with amrut jal for a day and prevents fungal attacks. Long beans are true legumes, so a soil mildly rich in organic matter is best. Too much nitrogen will result in more leaves than beans. They are directly sown in warm soil an inch deep 6 inches apart. In warm zones, you can follow succession planting 2 – 3 times, at 2-week intervals, and also plant a late summer or fall crop. You have to plant them in a row and make the row go from north to south to get the full exposure to sun rays. Then you need to turn the soil over with a shovel and work with back and forth with a garden hoe to make it lose. It is important to fertilize the soil before planting the yard long bean seeds.
⦁ Weed Management and Pest Control –
The plants are susceptible to black bean aphids, spider mites, nematodes, and mosaic viruses.
Aphids, particularly the black bean aphid are drawn to the pods of this plant.
Bean fly is the main pest causing small yellow spots on the leaves.
They can be treated by spraying dimethoate.
Red spider-mites produce a speckled silvery appearance on leaves and can be treated by spraying dicofol.
⦁ Harvesting –
Yard long beans may grow up to 24 inches long, but it is better to pick them at 12 – 18 inches. While picking, cut the pods with a sharp knife to minimize plant damage, thus maximizing harvest. Leave the pods to reach full maturity, allowing them to dry on the plant if the pods have to be reserved for seeds. The pods will break open and the seeds can be collected. Long beans are harvested 40 – 45 days from germination.
When harvesting, it is important not to pick the buds which are above the bean as the plant will set more beans upon the same stem. Keeping the pods picked is essential to maintain production. If left unpicked, the pods grow to 3 feet in length and produce beans almost similar to cowpeas. Yard long beans are generally harvested while the pods are at their immature stage, just before to full development. Hence, they tend to perish early if kept open for a few hours. In the farms, the beans are transferred to cold storage facilities soon after harvest. Once at home, treat them as you do for French or green beans. Store in a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator set at optimal humidity where they stay fresh for 2 – 4 days. The pods are harvested from mid to late summer.
Seeds of long beans
image – healthbenefitstimes.com
⦁ Benefits of long beans –
⦁ The pods contain large quantities of soluble and insoluble fibers. Since the entire green pod is eaten as in green beans, sufficient amount of dietary fiber is obtained in the diet. Dietary fiber helps to protect the colon mucosa by reducing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
⦁ Long beans are rich in fiber and reduce LDL-cholesterol levels by decreasing re-absorption of cholesterol binding bile acids in the colon.
⦁ These beans are very low-calorie vegetables and 100 g beans contain just 47 calories.
⦁ Long beans are good for the skin and reduce wrinkles and dryness in the skin as it contains vitamin c. It also acts as a healing agent
⦁ Fresh yard long beans are one of the finest sources of folates. 100 g beans provide 62 µg or 15% of daily requirement of folates. Folate along with vitamin B-12 is one of the essential components of DNA synthesis and cell division. Adequate folate in the diet around conception and during pregnancy may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.
⦁ Long beans are known to reduce the risk of gout because of its vitamin c content
⦁ It healthy for the heart as it contains folate and also reduces the risks of heart attacks
⦁ Fresh beans contain a good amount of vitamin-C. 100 g yard long beans provide 18.8 mg or 31% of vitamin-C. Vitamin C is a powerful water-soluble antioxidant, and when adequately provided in the diet, it helps build immunity to combat infections, contribute to maintaining blood vessel elasticity, and protection from cancers.
⦁ It provides good sound sleep as it contains magnesium. Hence people suffering from sleep issues must intake these beans regularly
⦁ Long beans are excellent sources of vitamin-A. At 865 IU per 100 g; the beans have more of this vitamin than that of the other same family legumes. Vitamin-A is one of the essential vitamins for the body provided through our diet. Vitamin-A maintains mucosal integrity, enhances skin complexion, and improves night vision.
⦁ Yard long beans provide average amounts of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium. The body uses manganese as a cofactor for the important antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
⦁ It is found to be good for eye health too and is used to treat vision problems such as cataract and glaucoma
⦁ Thiamine present in it tones the walls of the digestive tract and is therefore good for digestion and enhances immunity
⦁ It is also useful in fighting most cancers as it is rich in folate.
⦁ Long beans are good antioxidants and have antibacterial, antiviral and anticancer properties.
⦁ It contains beta-carotene, vitamin b1, b2, chlorophyll, riboflavin, protein, phosphorous, thiamine, fiber, iron, and pectin.