19 November 2014

Thai Purple Long Beans

When they first began blooming, I counted the blossoms every day, picturing my plate full of these beautiful Thai Purple Long Beans (we got ours from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds here).  As they grew, I measured that first bean every day for a week or so, and had way too much fun realizing it grew between an inch and two inches per day.  At harvest, it was about nineteen inches.  

Woohoo!  What a great bean!

While we've had several meals with these delicious beans as a side dish, I do have to tell you I've been a little disappointed in our harvest.  As we've talked with other gardeners in the area, read articles, and listened to several talks from the first ever conference of the Adventist Agricultural Association, I think I've identified a couple of things (in addition to a constant focus on composting and soil quality) to work on for my next legume crop.


While we put down a sack of beautiful compost from our local municipality, I crammed the entire package of seeds into a relatively small area.  My logic was that all the compost would support a larger number of plants.  

I learned from one of the lectures during the Adventist Agricultural Association, however, that with proper spacing, a plant's yield increases dramatically.  Definitely something to pay more attention to next time!


I've known before that legumes are nitrogen fixing crops--in other words, crops that take nitrogen from the air and make it available to the plants in the soil.

I didn't know, though, that if there aren't certain bacteria in the soil when you plant the bean, it has a hard time doing its job of fixing the nitrogen.  Once the bacteria are in the soil, they'll stick around for a few years as long as you give them some legumes to work with every few years.

Some varieties, depending on your area, may need to be inoculated with the bacteria at planting to make sure the right things are in place to get that precious nitrogen into your soil both for the bean crop and the crops that follow it.

I read about the process at a delightful corner of the web called Tropical Permaculture.


  1. WOW, that's a LONG bean! This is all SOOO fascinating! I'm glad you posted on the blog. I was thinking of you as I was writing my latest post just now (it's kind of silly! sigh...) and thinking that I hoped everything was right since you hadn't been blogging. We should catch up on the phone soon. Things are much better, but I need continuing prayers. Hopefully it'll all work out!

  2. So glad they are growing for you. They can be so tasty. Maybe next year will be even better. You can add pelleted alfalfa (from the feed store) to increase nitrogen.


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