As the weather heats up it can be difficult to grow a good crop of many traditional bean varieties. This of course depends on your climatic location. If you’re in the subtropics and tropics there are some great choices of beans to grow that absolutely thrive in the summer heat.
‘Snake’: Vigna unguiculata var.sesquipedalis
These beans thrive in the hot summer weather and even cope well with humidity. They are tolerant of varying soil types and resistant to bean fly. The beans can grow up to 60cm long but are best eaten when half that size. There are green and red podded cultivars and they come in dwarf and climbing forms.
‘Madagascar’: Phaseolus lunatus
This a vigorous climbing Lima bean and will live for many years. It can be used as a subtropical substitute for broad beans and as a dried bean. The dried beans are beautiful being maroon and white speckled. I call them “magic beans” because of this appearance.
The green pods that encase the bean seeds should not be eaten, only the cooked beans within the pods are edible.
‘Lablab’ ‘Poor Man’s bean’: Lablab purpureus.
The green and purple pods resemble snow peas more than beans.
The Lablab is an extremely hardy perennial climbing bean that has edible young pods, shoots and flowers. Each plant can grow to 2-3m and needs a sturdy trellis. The mature pods contain toxins when raw, so must be cooked thoroughly with the water changed before consuming. They are also often used a green manure crop and as animal fodder.
Other more traditional bean varieties that do well in the summer are Westralia, Purple King, Lazy Housewife, Borlotti, and Blue Lake.
Growing Beans 101:Climate: Traditional bean varieties are best grown in; spring and summer in cooler climates. autumn, winter and spring in subtropical and tropical climates.
Position: Full sun
Soil: Well-drained with a pH of 6.5-7.
Fertiliser: Avoid fertilisers high in nitrogen as this encourages leafy growth over flowering and pod formation.
Trellis: for climbing bean varieties, or choose dwarf beans for smaller gardens or pots.
Stir-Fried Snake Beans:
- 500g Snake Beas, cut into 5cm length
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp fresh chicken stock
- Fried shallots to serve
- Heat oil in a wok until it starts to smoke.
- Add beans and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add garlic and fry until fragrant.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir-fry for another 30 seconds until liquid has reduced slightly. Season if required.
- Serve immediately, garnished with fried shallots.
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