Our Magic Beans’ botanical name is Canavalia Ensiformis. and is also known as sword-bean, chickasaro lima bean and Jack Bean.
Magic beans love the sun and warm conditions. They are also happy in moderate shade and as a garden plant. They can grow to over 2 metres tall, provided it receives enough nutrients, water and sunshine and their roots are kept moist.
It is a climbing bean vine which produces long leaves and is quite bushy. Its strong root system helps it to develop with gorgeous flowers that are typically pink-purple. It has deep roots, helping to make it drought resistant. Also said to be resistant to insect pests and diseases.
The bean pods that are produced can be up to 36cm long. They contain 1-2cm long beans which we call magic beans. You may be lucky to harvest as many as 12 beans per pod.
Please note: this is one bean that must not be consumed raw. It must be cooked.
The young, immature pods and seeds can be cooked and consumed as a vegetable, whilst the whole plant is also used for animal food. Those who love this bean claim you can just boil them or fry in a little butter just like you would any other bean. Don’t eat the pods though as they can be quite stringy.
Once fully ripe, the beans are too hard and too old and are not fit to be consumed. In many Asian countries, the young flowers and leaves are steamed and used as flavourings in many foods. You’ll also find that the beans are used in Chinese Medicine.
PLANTING YOUR MAGIC BEAN:
(Unplanted, magic beans will last 2-3 years as long as they are kept in a dry, cool place)
Find - or make - a pot that has holes at the bottom for drainage.
You may want to consider sprouting your Magic Bean in a paper cache pot, or half an egg-shell with a couple of holes, or even a modified toilet roll - that way they can be re-potted later without needing to disturb the roots. These type of pots will just break down in the earth!
Fill with potting soil (or even water beads) but don’t press down or compact the soil in any way.
Plant your Magic Beans a little below the surface.
Water the soil a little every day to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
Keep your pot in sunlight to help it to sprout.
Your Magic Bean should be sprouting within 7-10 Days.
If you are transporting the beans to a larger pot later, be sure to use a pot that is at least 8-10 inches wide, and equally deep. Fill the bottom 1/2 inch or so with pebbles or gravel, and fill the remaining space with (ideally) organic potting soil.
Make sure this potting soil is not high in nitrogen and is a time release blend. High nitrogen soil will encourage foliage growth but will actually hinder the growth of flowers and beans. Be careful not to water too heavily or too frequently.... you'll want to keep the soil damp, but not soggy!
You can also plant out into your garden of course!
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