Long beans are commonly grown in many different Asian countries because they really appreciate warm and humid climates. These beans are much longer and thinner than normal green beans.
Luckily, long beans can be grown in many parts of the world as long as you grow them during summer. Here’s a complete beginner’s guide to growing long beans.
Choose your Variety and Type
In essence, there are two different types of long beans. There are bush varieties and varieties that are climbing that grow as vines. Both of these types require the same growing conditions, so the choice is entirely yours as to which ones you decide to grow.
Bush beans will take up more space in your garden beds while climbing varieties can be grown in more limited space because you can plant them closer together and just grow them vertically using stakes, a trellis, or vertical wires.
You’ll also find that climbing long beans will bear much longer pods than the bush varieties. If you have the space, why not consider growing some of each?
Soil Requirements for Long Beans
Because long beans are legumes, they’re not too fussy about the type of soil that they grow in. That’s because these plants have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere back into the soil. This helps to keep them healthy and growing vigorously.
However, giving them the ideal conditions will produce truly healthy plants that crop prolifically. To that end, you want to supply your long beans with loose soil that is free-draining. Ideally, you want the soil pH to be between 6.0 and 7.5.
It also helps to add some aged compost or rotted manure into the soil first to give your long beans a good head start.
Choose the Right Spot for your Long Beans
You want to make sure that you grow your long beans in a sunny spot in your garden. These plants require plenty of warmth and sunshine to grow their best.
For long beans to grow really well and set fruit, they require daytime temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 29 degrees Celsius). You should wait until the soil has warmed up and reached a temperature of at least 60 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 20.5 degrees Celsius).
In addition, your long beans should receive a minimum of around 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
How to Sow your Long Beans
Like other legume varieties, long beans are best grown from seed because they have a delicate root system that can easily be damaged if you decide to transplant them from seedlings.
Here’s what to do:
- If you’re growing the climbing varieties, insert your stakes into the soil first before you sow the seeds.
- Plant the seeds around 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep into the soil.
- For bush beans, space the seeds around 12 inches (30 cm) apart. This will give the plants plenty of room to grow.
- It’s wise to plant two seeds per hole in case one of the seeds doesn’t germinate. If both germinate, just remove the weaker seedling.
- For climbing beans, sow the seeds around 6 inches (15 cm) apart. These can be planted closer than bush beans because they’ll be grown vertically.
- If you’re planting multiple rows of either bush or climbing beans, ensure a space of around 35 inches (90 cm) between each row. This avoids overcrowding and makes harvesting much easier.
- After sowing the seeds, water the soil well.
- Top the soil with a layer of mulch such as straw or hay and water again.
You should start to see the seeds germinating within around one week.
Water Requirements for Long Beans
Long beans happen to be quite thirsty plants. In general, they require around 2 inches of water every week. However, this will depend entirely on how much rainfall your area receives.
You have to remember that these beans are traditionally grown in Asian countries where the climate is warm and tropical. This means there is generally more humidity in the air and plenty of summer rainfall.
However, in drier climates, long beans will need a lot of supplementary watering. But, don’t just water on a set schedule. It’s far better to check the moisture content in the soil first before you add additional water.
The easiest way to do this is to poke your finger into the top inch or two of the soil to check whether it is dry or still contains a good amount of moisture. Alternatively, you can use a moisture meter that will tell you exactly how much moisture is in the soil.
Always remember to water your plants deeply at the root level and avoid getting the leaves wet. Too much moisture on the leaves can cause fungal problems for your plants. It’s also a good idea to water your long beans early in the morning rather than late at night.
Fertilizer Requirements of Long Beans
As you now already know, long beans have the ability to fix nitrogen into the soil, so they don’t need a fertilizer high in this particular nutrient. In fact, if you give your long beans too much nitrogen, you’ll end up with plenty of leafy growth but not too many flowers and bean pods.
For this reason, you want to ensure that you only feed your long beans a balanced fertilizer that is not too high in nitrogen. Consider something like compost or even bone meal.
One of the best ways to do this is to incorporate some aged compost into the soil before planting the seeds. As this breaks down in the soil even further, it will only slowly release the nutrients to the plants as they need them.
How to Support Climbing Long Beans
As you are aware, all climbing plants need some strong support to climb up, and long beans are no exception. There are various ways that you can provide the necessary support for your climbing long beans.
You can simply use tall stakes that you position around 2 inches (5 cm) away from the base of the plant. Then, as the plant starts to grow, just gently wrap the stem around the stake and continue to do this as the plant stem gets taller and taller. You might want to secure the stem to the stake in a few spots using garden twine.
Alternatively, you can install a strong trellis behind your long beans and attach the growing stems to this vertically as they grow.
Harvesting your Long Beans
For climbing long beans, you want to harvest the pods once they’re about 12 inches (30 cm) long and bright green in color.
Bush long beans can be harvested when they’re around 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) long, as these won’t grow as long as the climbing varieties.
It’s important to harvest your long beans regularly, say every 3 to 4 days, as this will encourage the plants to produce many more delicious pods. In this way, you’ll be able to harvest many tender beans all summer long.