Lablab -Bataw – Parda – Hyacinth bean (Dolichos Lablab) is one of my favorite vegetables. I like to cook it with pork and shrimp with “sotanghon” or cellophane noodles. I don’t have it in my garden now but when I did, it grew like crazy. It is a vine and needs trellis or fence to hold on. It took about 2-3 months before it started to flower and produce beans. The beans are lime green in color and have a purple color in its perimeter. This is the one that I am familiar with when I was growing up. There are other varieties which are purple or white in color.
When my “bataw” plant started giving me beans, its like non-stop. I put lots of compost around the main plant and it was happy to give me lots of beans. The “bataw” is in the family of Fabacaea and is native to Africa. Their flowers are pretty and comes in different hues of purple or white depending on their variety. The bees like the flowers and they are always in my garden doing their job as pollinators.
When I visited a farm here in Hawaii recently, I found out that they use lablab as a cover crop. I think this is the wild variety of bataw because it doesn’t look like my bataw. I did not know that it also just like other beans can be used as cover crops. I also learned that the beans are used as feeds together with soy beans.
The beans should be picked before the seeds form in the pods. Otherwise it will become tough. It is fibrous and not like the snow peas, you need to cook it before eating it.
The seeds are black with a white spot on the side. You might want to soak the seeds first before planting to hasten the germination period. When the plant shows, all it need is regular watering, maybe put some fertilizer or better yet amend the soil with compost before planting. Also make sure that the plant gets full sun. It will surely take off in no time. It is somewhat a perennial plant in my garden. It keeps giving me a never-ending supply of beans which I enjoy so much.