In Introducing the Hunan Winged Bean (June/July 2007), we asked readers to write in about their experiences growing winged beans. In the following letter, Mother Earth News reader Jeff Weyers offers tips for growing winged beans.
I have grown and enjoyed winged beans for over ten years, so I was glad to see your article by William Woys Weaver about the ‘Hunan’ variety of winged bean in your June/July issue. Although I grow a different daylength insensitive variety than ‘Hunan,’ some of my thoughts and tips on growing this crop should certainly be applicable. Hopefully new growers will not be inadvertantly disappointed in the potential of this plant when it is stated that all parts of the plant are edible, because they certainly are; you just will not be able to harvest all potentially edible parts from each plant. For example, tubers will be very small or non-existant unless all flower buds are removed, and bud removal means no pods; likewise excessive shoot and leaf harvest severely impacts pod production. In my experience nearly everyone likes the delicious pods and mushroom-flavored flower buds (stir-fried). I like the tender young shoot tips as a garden nibble. The immature seeds are OK, but rather troublesome to shell in quantity, and although the mature seeds can be eaten, I have found few people that consider them good tasting.
Pomaria, South Carolina
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