Snake beans are more commonly known as Chinese long beans or yard-long beans. They are a pole bean that has vines that can grow up to 12-feet tall and produce beans that are 12- to 18-inches long, according to the food encyclopedia, Practically Edible. If the pods of the snake bean are not picked, the beans inside will grow to look similar to black-eyed peas, causing some people to confuse the two plants. Snake beans are similar in taste to standard green beans, though somewhat sweeter and not as crisp
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Things you need
Construct a simple trellis by placing an 8-foot high, 2-inch by 2-inch stake approximately every 6 feet along the row intended for planting snake beans. Pound the stakes into the soil with a sledghammer until they are secure, approximately 12 to 18 inches deep.
Tie rows of heavy garden twine or bailing wire from stake to stake, creating lines of twine that run parallel to the ground every 12 inches or so. Include a row at the very top of the stakes.
Prepare the garden soil by removing large stones and other debris. Till the soil by hand or with a motorised tiller to create a bed of loose soil that is at least 12-inches deep.
Spread a 2-inch layer of a nitrogen-rich amendment, such as composted manure, over the soil. Beans and legumes require more nitrogen than other garden plants because they store it in their roots. Use a rake or hoe to work the amendment into the top 4 inches of the soil.
Poke your finger into the soil every 6 to 8 inches to make a depression for the bean seeds. Make the holes between 1- and 2-inches deep. Allow approximately 4 feet between rows.
Place the snake bean seeds into the holes and cover them loosely with soil. Water thoroughly and keep the seedlings evenly moist as they sprout.
Guide the tendrils of the beans onto the trellis if they spread on the ground. Begin harvesting snake beans when they reach 10 inches.
Tips and warnings
- Cook snake beans as you would any other green bean, stir-fried, steamed, sautéed or boiled.
- Consider growing the white or burgundy variety of snake beans for the easiest harvest. Only the bean pod is coloured, making them easy to find as they stand out against the green vines.
- Use the leaves and stems of spent beans as mulch for the garden and till the root balls back into the earth to replenish the nitrogen levels and enrich your garden soil.
- If your garden has an established fence, plant the snake beans next to the fence and eliminate the need to build a trellis.
- Do not build a trellis taller than you can reach because snake bean vines can grow up to 12 feet. It is better to allow the trellis to peak at a height that is comfortable for you and let the vines trail back down to the ground.
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