News release: Peas and Beans, Part II

Tim Baker, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist
102 N. Main, Suite 1, Gallatin, MO 64640

Release Date: May 14, 2015

Headline: Peas and Beans, Part II

In my last column, I introduced the legume family, with a number of peas and beans that you might consider growing in your garden.  Here are some more:

Asparagus beans.  Also called “yard-long” beans.  They usually don’t grow to three feet, but you may see a two-foot pod at times.  They are best harvested immature, and used like a snap bean.  They do well in warm climates, but will need support.

Fava, Windsor, broad, or horse beans.  These are all names for the same bean.  These do well in cooler climates, but may grow poorly here.  They are popular in the Mediterranean countries and northern Europe.  Good in soups and salads.

Garbanzo beans.  Also called chickpeas.  Commercial production in the U.S. is in central California.  They are planted in early spring, and harvested dry during the summer.  The leaf reminds you more of a vetch than a bean.  The plant produces many pods, with several seeds in each pod.

Kidney beans, pinto beans, great northern beans.  These are actually the same species as the common green bean.  You just leave them on the plant until the pods mature.

Lentils.  These have been used from ancient times, and are mentioned in the Bible.  In the U.S., they are mostly grown in the Pacific Northwest.  The small pods contain only a couple of seeds, so home production might be a problem.

Pigeon pea, Cajan (not Cajun) bean, or Congo beans.  These are all names for the same bean.  It’s grown widely in the Orient and equatorial Africa.  In some parts of the world, it’s used as cattle food, in addition to the human diet.

There are many other miscellaneous beans around the world.  Some of these include:  Tepary bean - grown by native Americans in Mexico; Mung bean - this is the “bean sprout” bean; Adzuki bean - grown in China and Japan.

If you have the space in your garden, and like to experiment, you might give some of these beans that you are not familiar with a try.  You might be surprised!