It is difficult to find them anywhere in our area, in any form. One supermarket yielded jars of black eye beans in brine, and we bought the last packet of dried beans from A Casa Portugaise on the D910 in Veigné. The last of these are sitting forlornly in a jar, too few to cook with. I found one european supplier of seed - Jungleseeds - although there are plenty in the USA.They recommend growing them in a polytunnel in the UK. But in France? As usual, I acted first and researched afterwards. As a desperate measure, at the beginning of June I planted a dozen beans out of the jar, more in hope than in expectation. I started them off in the spare room in Rootrainers, two seeds to a 'rainer. They germinated in two days (sown 4th, up by 6th... in a bed 19th June.)
They all germinated. I found that they could be dwarf or climbing beans, depending on the variety. I guessed wrong, they turned out to be climbers and sprawled all over a bed of dwarf beans. Their position, on a warm hillside but in the light shade of a bed of sunflowers, was, by complete chance, the best I could have chosen, as they prefer shade from the full heat of the midday sun. In Africa they are inter-cropped between rows of sorghum. Like many pulses, they fix atmospheric nitrogen in nodules in their roots, providing nutrients for themselves, for the sorghum and for the next crop. As for humidity, they are actually drought-tolerant.
The flowers are beautiful and delicate, lasting just a few hours.
|Black eye Bean flower, 18th August 2014ion|
|Flower from the back, plus luscious leaves, 2/09/2014|
|Seed pods appearing behind the flower, 02/09/2014|
|Black eye Bean pods, with "Snake" bean in the background, 2/09/2014|
|The same pod, only riper, 20/09/2014|
|More and more pods|
Until finally they began to feel papery, then I picked them. Or some of them, there are more to come.
|The first harvest|
|Small, but lots of them. They are related to the Yard Long Bean, which grows up to 90cm long.|
|There are 28 beans so far, so I'm 16 beans up on my starting position!|
I still won't have enough to make my favourite dish, or to try Hoppin' John, a signature dish of the southern USA (for future reference, the recipe is here). Maybe next year...
(Ignore the posted by Tim...
I started it on the laptop downstairs...
P.P.S. I have just concluded that I have two varieties here: one is a climber, with the fat frog-green pods, and one is dwarf, with the pinkish pointed pods. You can see a green pod on the left of the picture dated 20th September. This is on a different plant from all the others in the picture. There is another green pod at the back in the picture following it. The dwarf variety clearly matures earlier than the climber, but has much smaller beans. I haven't harvested any of the green sausages yet, but the pink pointy ones are nearly all ready to harvest.