Baguio Beans – Snap Beans, (formerly called string beans), flat green beans ( Italian), haricot vert (French)
We call these delectable green vegetable Baguio beans because they are mostly grown in the Mountain Province where the temperature is cooler than the lowlands in the Philippines and Baguio City is the most popular destination during the hot summer months.
I never really experience seeing the plant when I was in the Philippines so having a garden here in Hawaii prompted me to plant these popular vegetable as my number one priority to see how it will perform. I selected the pole beans type because of the size of my plot in the community garden. I figured I will have more beans if it goes upward on a trellis. I have tried the bush types too because of the different color selections but because it needs more space so I have to contend to plant just the pole beans. I had success in growing both types though, which I am really proud of. I also make sure to save some pods to mature for the next season’s planting to ensure a continuous supply of beans without buying seeds from the nursery anymore. But I was browsing at the seed catalog and I saw the tricolor beans so I might decide to buy these variety just to see how it will grow in my garden. I always like the challenge.
Pole Beans needs full sun and well drained soil. Like other vegetables, beans will thrive in soil amended with compost and other organic materials. Although beans are light feeders, they would need a balance fertilizer during the flowering time. It will start to produce 8 -9 weeks after planting. Seeds are planted directly in the garden where you will grow them and it needs support like trellis or bamboo teepees. I do not really follow the spacing rules that experts recommend because of the lack of space in my garden so I try to plant seeds closer together. I make sure to tap down for good soil contact, (I use a 2 by 4 piece of wood for this.) Constant watering is a must for newly planted seeds. Sometimes, you will need to soak the seeds at least overnight for easy germination. Bean plants are also a natural source of nitrogen for the soil so it is good to plant them together with lettuce and other leafy vegetables that needs nitrogen for the formation of dark green, glossy foliage. The darker the color of the leaves of vegetables indicates more nutritional value.
Beans have been planted by Native American Indians with corn and pumpkins and it still true today, corn and pumpkins are good companion plants for beans and so are carrots, Swiss chards, peas, potatoes and eggplants.
Experts suggest not to work the bean plants when they are wet, to prevent the spread of diseases and also not to cultivate around the plants because the roots are shallow and can easily be disturbed by pulling weeds with a cultivator. It is best to put mulch around the plants to prevent weeds and also for moisture retention.
The pole beans will mature in 65-80 days. The flowers are white and bees like them so watch out for them. It is best to gather the beans when it is 4-5 inches in length and when the beans are still flat. Otherwise, the seeds will form and the beans will be fibrous and stringy.
We always use Baguio Beans in pansit (noodles), chop suey, vegetable lumpia, (fried or fresh) and nilaga (beef soup). But one time I tasted steamed beans with ginger when I was in Baguio City and I enjoyed that very much. Sometimes, I blanched the beans, then cooked in butter and olive oil with garlic. I like that too. It is easy to make and a good side dish for just about any main courses like chicken, pork or beef, even fish.
Green beans are good source of carbohydrate, moderate amount of protein, dietary fiber, Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene which converts into Vitamin A, B- vitamins and trace amounts of calcium, iron and potassium.