Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus)

Description

Winged bean, Psophocarpus tetragonolobus, also known as goa bean or four-angled bean is another delicious perennial vegetable to grow! Being in the Fabaceae family, winged beans fix nitrogen extremely well, but they are also an excellent food source in the pod, also the bean, young leaves, shoots, flowers, flower buds and tuberous roots are all edible! Winged beans grow as small vine (up to 12 feet), easily trellis-able or grown on a tree. If you do not live in the tropics there is a day-length neutral variety suited for annual growing in many parts of the world.

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Propagation

Winged beans are grown from seed, but scarification and soaking overnight are recommended to speed up the process of germination. Transplant plants into a full sun location.

Care

When the plant is young, make sure to weed it and help support it on a trellis as they are initially slow growing. Next sit back and enjoy the relentless harvest! If you are growing the plant for tubers, do not trellis, and remove flowers by hand once they develop.

Eating

Harvest bean pods when they are 5-8 inches long. If you wait longer you can harvest the beans and use them like lima or soy beans, meaning you could make bean milk, tofu and tempeh, or roast the beans like peanuts. Dried seeds may also be used for flour or as a coffee substitute

The young leaves and flowers are cooked as greens, or may be eaten raw in small portions. And the tuberous roots can be eaten fresh or cooked like potatoes and contain 20-25% protein.

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Where to obtain planting materials

You could ask a friend growing winged beans for some seeds. Or order them online, as the beans at the market are too immature to produce viable seeds.

My Garden

Winged beans are one of my favorite vegetables, they are so versatile, can be eaten raw or lightly sautéed and grow so well here. So I was extremely excited once I got some seeds and made a little bed to plant them. In this bed I created three tipi trellis one for winged beans, one for Malabar spinach and one for air potato, the latter two are slightly/highly invasive so I wanted to keep them somewhere away from the forest where they could potentially run wild forever. And below these trellis I planted New Zealand spinach, sisso spinach, cranberry hibiscus and dahlia. I do have a guava tree that is slowly falling over near this bed so it had shaded out my beans pretty hard until I cut it back, so that’s why the bean vine is not filled with leaves as it should be. Even though it was shaded out it still produces tons of pods for harvest. Mmmm I love winged beans.

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Happy Gardening!

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Moringa (Moringa oleifera)

Description

Moringa, Moringa oleifera, also commonly called drumstick tree, horseradish tree or malunggay, is the most nutritious plant on the planet! The leaves are the most nutritious part, containing high levels of protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, B and C (there is more but I will let you discover that)! How lucky are we living in the tropics being able to grow this plant? Well, tropical environments are not the only way it thrives; it is also highly drought tolerant and can be grown in very dry regions where not many other vegetables grow. The tree is fast growing up to 35 feet, but usually maintained as a hedge for easy harvests. The leaves, roots, flowers, pods, bark and seeds are all edible, making only the wood itself not edible. The seeds are used to make cooking oil and also used as a water purifier!! The plant is extremely medicinal due to its nutritional properties. How incredible!

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Propagation

Moringa is commonly grown from seed or large woody stem cuttings.

To grow from seed, remove hard seed coat and plant the smaller white seed. Direct sowing is recommended, but I almost always plant into trays. They propagate quickly and grow fast, I like to transplant them in the ground when they are a few inches tall (4-6 inches), because they have a taproot and I do not want to harm that.

To grow from cuttings, select hardwood 18-36 inches long and 2-5 inches thick, leave in a dry shaded place to cure for a few days and plant 1/3 of the cutting into the ground. Make sure the soil is well drained.

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Remove harder outer shell by hand and plant white seed

Care

Weeding is necessary when the plants are young, so they don’t get choked out. Once the plant is taller, you may start trimming the top, to make harvest easier, and produce new leaves for harvest, or let it turn into a full tree.

Eating

Leaves and tender stems are used like spinach, raw or cooked, or thrown in soups and stews. The leaves also change their nutrition content when they are dried, and become more potent in some areas.

The immature seedpod can be eaten raw or cooked like green beans.

Seeds can be roasted, sautéed, or eaten raw. Mature seeds are usually fried.

To make cooking oil from seeds, dry, then roast, mash then boil. Then strain out the solids and let the liquid sit over night, in the morning, the oil will have floated to the surface and can be skimmed off. This oil is called Ben Oil.

Seeds as water treatment: peel and crush/mash seeds to coagulate suspended particles in water, helping to remove disease organisms present. Leave mashed seeds in water for 1 hour. 1.5 grams of Moringa mash filters 32 ounces of water.

Roots may be eaten only after the bark has been removed. Once removed, grate it, add vinegar, and you have a horseradish substitute.

Where to obtain planting materials

If you know someone growing the plant you could ask them for a stem cutting, or for seeds. Typically seedpods at the farmers market will not be mature enough to grow seed. So your other option is to buy seeds from a dealer. They are pretty inexpensive, I believe I got 100+ for around $5, and they have a high germination rate, maybe buy them with a friend to split the cost and the seeds?

My Garden  

Moringa was one of the first plants I planted at this property. I was really excited to grow it once I learned about its incredible properties. I eat it in almost every meal I cook. My first planting I got at a plant sale and I currently top it so it doesn’t grow any taller, and next to it I planted some plants I grew from seed, hoping to have a hedge of Moringa one day. It seems the plants like to take their time establishing their roots and are a little weak on their trunks for a while, so I tie them up to some bamboo or stick to keep them straight. But at some point they will focus on above ground growth and take off, filling in the hedge space.

Next to the moringa hedge I have: kale, hot peppers, pineapples, choko, morning glory, lilly, comfrey, random clovers and my tree nursery and above that is wild forest/non-cultivated areas.

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Happy Gardening!