VEGETABLES AND SMALL FRUITS IN THE TROPICS PART 3. P - Z
VEGETABLES AND SMALL FRUITS IN THE TROPICS
PART 3. O - Z
PASSION FRUITS FOR HIGHER ALTITUDES.Two of the passion fruits covered in Lost Crops of the Incas are the sweet grenadilla, Passiflora ligularis, also called sweet passion fruit and the purple passion fruit, Passiflora edulis. Victor Wynne in Haiti says, "I particularly recommend the sweet passion fruit to anyone with growing conditions approximating ours, perhaps over 5,000 feet, and a good depth of soil or subsoil to hold moisture during dry spells. The fruit never fails to sell locally to the supermarkets at a good price. It takes about six months for the young vines to get established, and they should be protected from strong sun. We have strung a horizontal wire on 8 foot posts set 1.5 feet into the ground. The fruit is borne on side branches which reach almost to the ground." He would like to get away from posts and wire and is experimenting with trees. The vine "is in no way a killer of trees (i.e. it does not smother them as do some other Passifloras). It is more moderate in its growth." Unlike the yellow passion fruit grown in the lowlands, this one "does not fall when ripe, so must be picked. Thus, a support tree should have a structure allowing one to climb up to reach the fruit."
According to the Lost Crops book, this fruit has been grown as low as 800 meters and as high as 3,000 meters in Bolivia and Colombia. Because of its strong rind, "it transports well without injury. Consequently Colombia is now exporting this fruit to Europe." It flourishes in Hawaii and is grown somewhat in New Zealand. "This plant sets fruit less abundantly than the common passion fruit, but can produce two crops a year. Because of its resistance to root and collar rot, it is a useful rootstock for other passion fruit species. ...Some people find [the taste] too sweet and flat, which is why lime juice is often added."
ECHO sometimes has small quantities of seeds of these varieties. Please let us know if you have seed to spare. This fruit is already grown in most tropical countries, so you may be able to find seed locally.
SEMINOLE PUMPKIN IS A MULTIPURPOSE, PRODUCTIVE VEGETABLE. I had wanted to get seed for the Seminole pumpkin ever since Dr. Julia Morton sent me a copy of her article: "The Sturdy Seminole Pumpkin Provides Much Food with Little Effort." We finally obtained seed and planted a single hill in an out-of-the-way spot and gave it almost no attention. It vined through weeds in a large area and produced 20-30 pumpkins, which we ate using winter squash recipes. We love the flavor, finding it a great tropical substitute for the popular acorn squash. Each is a convenient size, somewhat bigger than a large grapefruit. ECHO has seed of several varieties. If it produces in your climate, you will be able to save your own seed.
Julia Morton writes, "It will spread over the ground, drape a fence or climb a tree; needs to be fertilized only at planting time; requires no protection from insects. The fruit, variable in form and size, is hard-shelled when mature and keeps at room temperature for months, is excellent baked, steamed, or made into pies. The Indians sliced, sun-dried and stored surplus pumpkins. Very young tender fruits are delicious boiled and mashed; the male flowers are excellent dipped in batter and fried. Thus the vine produces three totally different vegetables. This is an ideal crop for the home gardener. The portion of the vine which has borne will die back, but vigorous runners, which root at the nodes, will keep on growing, flowering and fruiting, yielding a continuous supply."
The fruits were seen hanging from oak trees by early settlers as they canoed through the Florida's Everglades. The native tribes girdled the bark of oak trees to kill them, then planted the pumpkin at the base (a technique we are not recommending!). ECHO also has several other varieties of pumpkins which you may request if they produce well in your area.
QUAIL GRASS (CELOSIA ARGENTEA) IS AN EXCELLENT SPINACH SUBSTITUTE FOR HOT WEATHER. Often folks from the States form the opinion that vegetables will not grow under the difficult tropical conditions where they work. It would be more accurate to say that vegetables which they knew in the temperate zone may not thrive there. You will find gardening to be much easier if you grow food plants that God made for climates like yours. Quail grass is a good example. Even in temperate regions spinach only does well in the cooler part of the season and certainly will not grow in the hot tropics. Quail grass, on the other hand, will grow to about 8 feet when spaced about a foot apart and has leaves which taste very much like spinach. (It might be more productive to plant much more closely than that, however.) Roy Danforth tried it in Zaire. He wrote that he was very pleased that it tasted so much like spinach. More important, the local folks are quite interested in it also.
I understand that it is already an important vegetable in parts of Africa and elsewhere. It is not a grass at all, but is in the same genus as the ornamental celosia and cocks comb. Young growing tips or older leaves are cooked for only a few minutes to soften. The water becomes an unappetizing black, but the leaves are an attractive green. The taste is spinach-like with no trace of bitterness. The cooking water should be discarded because it contains oxalic acid.
We sometimes like to cook greens in a steamer. When we cooked quail grass that way the leaves were black and had an unpleasant taste that we had not noticed before. Apparently the black pigment and the oxalic acid that are normally removed in the cooking water were all left in the steamed leaves.
I have found no specific nutritional information, but it is in the same family as amaranth and is claimed to be similar except lower in protein. The leaves should be high in vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. The calcium would not be available because it is tied up by oxalic acid. The oxalic acid should pose no danger unless leaves were eaten in unusually large quantities.
Like its ornamental relatives, quail grass is attractive in its own right. When the days become shorter in late August it is covered with purple blooms. The inflorescence becomes longer and longer, remaining purple at the tip. The basal end turns brown and contains ripe seeds while the tip continues to bloom (and attract bees and other insects). A row in the garden is attractive with or without blossoms.
I have often wished for a vegetable that grew like a weed without all the tender loving care that is so often needed. Quail grass is such a vegetable. Every place I have grown it, it reseeds itself abundantly. We need do no work to grow it. It definitely could become a weed problem (although an edible problem). We have had no disease problems and very little insect damage. It is susceptible to nematodes, so a mulch is helpful. It is killed by standing water or freezing temperatures, but does quite well in our cool winter as well as the hot summer. ECHO has plenty of seed. Please share your results with us.
Peace Corps volunteer Jessica Jacklet tested a packet of quail grass at her site in Panama. Few vegetables were grown in that area, as most vegetables performed very poorly. This picture shows Jessica (5'10" tall) standing by the quail grass, which was reportedly untouched by insects. The foliage was rich and dark with lovely purple flowers. Those who started growing quail grass are very proud about its exceptional growth. She introduced the plant as "purple spinach" to the villagers, who are learning ways to incorporate the leaves into their recipes. So far, people have added the leaves to a rice and lentil dish, and one containing eggs and tomatoes. This very productive plant is hardy and attractive, and it merits trial in more areas.
RHUBARB GROWN AS AN ANNUAL. Rhubarb is a common perennial plant in temperate regions, and it thrives vegetatively in cool highland regions in the tropics. In the Andes of Ecuador, it is widely appreciated among farmers, and many seek root divisions so they may continuously harvest their own rhubarb at home. People make sauces, pies, and juices of the tart stems. However, rhubarb is not adapted to the tropics, and the plant will not survive the extended heat and humidity of tropical lowlands. If you are now in the tropics and miss cooking with rhubarb, you will be happy to know it can be grown as an annual from seed. We grew the red-stalked variety 'Victoria' ("the deepest red of all seed-grown types") from the Park Seed Co., Cokesbury Rd., Greenwood, SC 29647, USA. In Florida, we plant the seeds in August, transplant in October, and harvest rhubarb through the cool winter season. The plant gradually dies off through the summer.
Ralph Kusserow in Tanzania wrote, "You mentioned in EDN about growing rhubarb as an annual. I have been doing that now for several years and it works. We just start taking from it as soon as it is ready. The plants always die eventually from some sort of root rot. I have to watch that I don't overwater it." Most stems of seed-grown rhubarb will be green rather than the intense red selected through vegetative propagation, but tasting a rhubarb pie in the subtropics made us overlook that quickly!
STRAWBERRIES. Strawberries would seem to be an "underexploited" cash crop in some countries. For example, Jose Postigo began a project at about 3,000 feet in the Dominican Republic, using U.S. varieties. Within a year he was selling dozens of boxes of beautiful berries in the capital. Several women also created jobs making jam from excess or older berries in their homes.
Strawberries bred for temperate zones only flower in long days, so varieties used in most of the U.S. would not yield fruit at low latitudes. You must grow day-neutral varieties in the shorter days of the tropics. The following are listed in a publication from California: 'Douglas,' 'Pajaro,' 'Vista,' 'Brighton,' 'Hecker,' and 'Aptos.'
Here at ECHO I have been pleased at the size and quality of berries and plants grown from seed. (Strawberries are normally propagated by runners.) I have not compared them to commercial varieties, but it is a good way to introduce plants to remote locations. Angelino Chipana and Abdon Paredes in Bolivia gave me a picture of a successful plot they began from seed. Though a few others say the plants are living, we have received no other reports of successful plantings. Some reported the plants were eaten by ants. Many had no germination. This could be related to heat, though ours always germinate even in the hot greenhouse in the summer. If you know of strawberries being grown in the tropics at other than higher altitudes, send us details. We are always interested in "tricks" to grow crops outside of their normal environment.
ECHO does not carry strawberry seed. The "Sweetheart" variety can be ordered from Park Seed Co., Cokesbury Rd., Greenwood, SC 29647, USA (25 seeds for about $2 plus postage; they bear the same year they are planted). If you can get fruit of the 'Douglas' variety, blend at a low speed in a blender, then separate and dry the tiny seeds. Plant by scattering on top of moist potting mix and patting with your hand to barely embed the seed into the soil. To make sure the top of the soil never dries out, place a glass or plastic sheet over the pot until they begin to emerge. Be sure NO sunlight hits the pot or it will overheat with the plastic covering. An alternative might be to set the pot in a basin containing an inch or so of water. We have pulled together considerable information on strawberries in the tropics; contact ECHO if you have more questions. If you are in the tropics but not at least 3000 feet (1000 m) elevation or on a very dry but irrigated farm, forget strawberries.
SWISS CHARD. Dale Gunnar in southern Texas writes, "We harvest swiss chard year-round. When we pull up the old stalks in late winter or early spring, we bury sections of the stalk. These quickly root and send up new growth. This is much faster than reseeding." Over the years, ECHO has received many reports from our network that Swiss chard produces well and long. It does well for us only during our mild winter season.
THAILAND LONG BEAN (VIGNA UNGUICULATA) PRODUCES ABUNDANTLY IN THE RAINY SEASON. Gary Rohwer writes from Nigeria: "The nature of the wet, humid growing season makes beans the best crop to fight against hunger and improve nutrition in this area. In particular, the Thailand Long Bean [a cowpea with an edible 10-inch pod] is a very impressive variety. It resembles a bean which is grown in Nigeria and eaten by the people here, so there is no problem in introducing this variety. The most impressive factor is that this variety grows so quickly. The beans which the people here have been planting only produce once in a growing season, but Thailand Long Bean could be planted three times if not four during the rainy season. I have introduced the bean and people have really been excited about it. If it was planted on a large scale here, they could really see the results." ECHO grows seed for our seedbank during the summer.
TOMATOES IN THE TROPICS AND SUBTROPICS. Tomatoes and onions are the most universally known vegetables. They are so versatile that they are readily accepted in most cultures. One of the most common statements we hear from development workers in the field is, "They grow good tomatoes here, but only small cherry or plum types. I think there would be a lot of market potential for some of the large types that we have in our gardens back home. Could you send me some seed of big tomatoes so I can introduce them here?"
People in the lowland tropics only grow the smaller (cherry and plum or roma) types for good reason: fruit set of large market tomatoes is very poor in many hot, tropical areas. If you have a variety of large tomato that is healthy and flowering, then the reason it is not setting most likely has to do with temperature. Both daytime highs and nighttime lows have a variety of effects on the ability of a tomato to set fruit. Small tomatoes seem to be less adversely affected by these extremes, which is why those types are the ones in local markets. We had hoped to find clear-cut guidelines but could not, so we will venture our own: If daytime temperatures are not less than 33 deg.C (92 deg.F) and nighttime temperatures less than 22 deg.C (72 deg.F) you may experience difficulties. If daytime temperatures are over 40deg.C (104 deg.F) or nighttime temperatures over 26 deg.C (79 deg.F) you will almost surely have poor fruit set and possibly damaged fruit.
These may not be bad rules-of-thumb, but as so often happens in real life, the reasons are too complex to be precise. Here are some of the factors so you can understand what is happening, and possibly find a solution.
Effect of nighttime temperatures. These can be either too low or too high. Temperatures at night that do not drop to at least 79 deg.F are clearly damaging to fruit set. Cultivars that were developed for early production in temperate regions had to be able to also set fruit earlier--when temperatures were low. These cultivars can set fruit as low as 4.4 deg.C (40 deg.F). On the other hand, cultivars developed for warm climates typically will not set fruit if night temperatures fall below 10 deg.C (50 deg.F).
Pollen grains must germinate before the ovule can be fertilized. At 25 deg.C (77 deg.F) germination takes about an hour; at 10 deg.C (50 deg.F), 5 hours; at 5 deg.C, (41 deg.F) 21 hours. Once it germinates, the pollen tube must grow until it reaches the ovule. This growth rate increases with temperature from 10-35 deg.C (50-95 deg.F), but is reduced outside that range. The ovule may deteriorate before it is fertilized.
Effect of high daytime temperatures. The anther must dehisce (burst open) before its pollen grains can be released. This process is inhibited by temperatures that are too high. At temperatures over 35 deg.C (95 deg.F) the surfaces of both the pollen grain and the stigma may dry out, which causes poor fruit set. The pollen germination rate increases with temperatures up to a point, but over 37 deg.C (99 deg.F) germination is greatly inhibited.
A high of 40 deg.C (104 deg.F) seems to be a critical point. Exposure to temperatures greater than this can damage both ovules and pollen production. E.g., if the ovule has been exposed to very high temperatures nine days before flowering, it can deteriorate. Once fertilized, the endosperm of the developing seed can deteriorate at over 40 deg.C (104 deg.F) for between 1-8 days after fertilization.
The difference between daytime highs and nighttime lows (diurnal variation) is also important. In regions and seasons where days are long, tomatoes are not productive unless the difference between day and night temperatures is at least 10 deg.F. We have been told that a very high diurnal variation, as might occur in a desert or high in the mountains, can apparently overcome some of the effects of high temperatures listed above.
Fruits that do set at high temperatures are often so badly damaged or misshaped that they are not marketable. Also red varieties tend to become more orange at higher temperatures. This is because synthesis of the red pigment, lycopene, is slowed at high temperature but the orange pigment, þ-carotene, continues to accumulate normally. Presumably tomatoes grown under shade cloth would be a little less damaged by heat.
[References used for the above discussion: Vegetables: Characteristics, Production and Marketing by Lincoln Peirce, Wiley & Sons, 1987; The Tomato Crop, Atherton and Rudich, Chapman & Hall publishers, 1988; personal conversation with Dr. Don Maynard, Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.]
ECHO offers two types of tomato seed: open-pollinated disease-resistant varieties, and trial samples of a hybrid heat-tolerant variety. AVRDC (see p. 50) and other tomato breeders are continually looking for more varieties which combine these traits, and we will make this seed available to you as it comes to ECHO. We also have varieties high in vitamin A. Tomato varieties always include a series of letters that represent their disease resistances: V for Verticillium wilt, F1 and F2 for Fusarium wilt races 1 and 2, respectively, T for tobacco mosaic virus, N for nematodes. In the tropics you want to see as many letters as possible.
The disease-resistant tomatoes developed for Florida are mixed together in a variety trial packet. We selected only open-pollinated ones (standard or non-hybrid, so you can save your own seed). Note that these were developed for our mild winter, so they are not selected for hot, humid weather. Their resistances are listed. Tropic is a stake-type tomato resistant to V, F, T, gray leaf spot, leaf molds, tolerant to early blight. Walter is resistant to F1, F2, gray leaf spot. Hayslip is a fresh market variety with determinant vines (i. e. do not need staking) resistant to V, F1, F2, grey leafspot, resistant to blossom end rot, black shoulder, catface and cracking. Florida MH 1 is a high yielding variety that is very resistant to F1, F2, V, T, grey leaf spot, leaf molds, and graywall. Floradade is a determinant variety especially adapted to V infected alkaline soils. It is resistant to V, F1, F2, gray leafspot. If you only want to try one variety, we can package it separately for you; be specific in your request to us if that is the case. ECHO periodically updates the mixture of seeds in our variety trial as we hear of great successes with other varieties, so you may receive a different mix than what is listed here. For larger quantities of these varieties and many more (both standard and hybrids) suited to the tropics, we recommend Kilgore Seed Company, 1400 West First Street, Sanford, FL 32771, USA; phone 407/323-6630. They have good prices.
Ordinarily, there is little use doing a trial with hybrid seed if you could not import seed after the trial, so we will only send hybrids if you specifically ask for them. However, some people have reported good success with planting a few tomato plants from a packet of hybrid seeds, then multiplying plants by cuttings. In that case, you would not need quantities of hybrid seed but could still benefit from the advantages that hybrids offer. Be sure to impress upon farmers that seed saved from hybrid fruits will not produce the same quality of fruit as the parent. We do not normally recommend hybrids because growers cannot save their own seed, but it is best not to be too dogmatic. There may be many situations in which purchasing seed will make economic sense if farmers can get a significantly higher price for out-of-season tomatoes or if for the first time large tomatoes were available. Also, because many superior genes are in hybrid plants, you might use them in developing a plant just right for your location by selecting the few outstanding plants each year.
'Solar Set' is a fresh market hybrid tomato that sets fruit moderately well under high temperature (92deg.F [33 deg.C] day, 72 deg.F [22 deg.C] night) and high humidity conditions. It was developed by Dr. Jay Scott at the University of Florida to extend the tomato season by a few weeks at either end of the normal season. It was not developed to produce throughout our terribly hot, humid summer, and in fact succumbs rather quickly to disease in the summer. The hope is that it will produce tomatoes a few weeks earlier than other varieties, bringing a superior price. Presumably it might also extend the season into somewhat warmer weather, although the premium price for end of season tomatoes will be less than that commanded by the first tomatoes of the year. This tomato is described as having large fruit with few defects even under adverse weather conditions. 'Solar Set' does not flower earlier than other cultivars, nor do fruit ripen more quickly. The improved earliness is entirely a result of a greater number of fruit which set early in the plants' development. It is resistant to Fusarium races 1 and 2, Verticillium, and gray leafspot. It is apparently not resistant to nematodes. ECHO's experience is that it is more prone to disease than several other tomatoes, as we might expect from the few types of resistance listed for it.
'Solar Set' is distributed by the Asgrow Seed Company (4420A Bankers Circle, Doraville, GA 30360, USA; phone 800/234-1056; fax 770/416-0108). We spoke with Tom McBride at Asgrow about the variety. So far results have been very good in areas where tomatoes flower at high temperatures. 'Solar Set' is a determinate variety, unlike many of our readers may be used to (called indeterminate). In other words, relatively short plants will flower and set fruit for a relatively short period of time (30-40 days), but they fruit heavily and will do a good job of holding what fruit does set. While the tomato is a warm season plant, there is a point where it may be too warm for good germination (probably around 100 degrees). Because this is a hybrid, the seed is relatively expensive. Asgrow's smallest unit in 1996 is 2000 seeds, which costs about US$30.
ECHO can send you a trial packet to test them; if they are very successful, you may purchase a large quantity of seed from Asgrow or reproduce plants by cuttings. ECHO has obtained one of the larger cans and will send as many seeds as you want for $1.50 per 100 seeds, including postage (count approximate). Before deciding to test them, remember that difficulties in obtaining smaller quantities of seed may make a trial of little interest to you.
The Tomato Growers Supply Company (P.O. Box 2237, Fort Myers, FL 33902, USA; phone 239/768-1119; fax 239/768-3476) has a huge selection of tomato varieties, including the productive 'Heatwave VFFA' hybrid (also determinate) which yields best when daytime temperatures are 90-96 deg.F (32-35.5 deg.C). They feature many heirloom varieties especially noted for disease resistance, if that is your main problem in growing tomatoes. Processing types are also mentioned. Their catalog lists several pages of sweet and hot peppers as well.
TOMATOES RESIST FLOODING IF GRAFTED TO EGGPLANT. The AVRDC (see p.50) in Taiwan is interested in improving tomato harvests during the hot, humid part of the year when supply is short and prices are high. A special problem can be flooding during tropical storms.
Scientists noticed that eggplants which grew next to tomatoes survived a flood that killed the tomatoes. Simple experiments showed that they could easily graft tomato onto the eggplant rootstock. (They were not able to graft pepper to eggplant.) This led to trials in 1993 in which a tomato variety selected for its ability to produce in hot weather was grafted to eggplants. (Their choice was Taichung ASVEG #4.)
"Flooding, which occurred after the first harvest of tomato, killed ungrafted plants whereas all tomato:eggplant grafts survived to produce more fruit. Early flooding (at 32 days and 40 days after transplanting) did not diminish growth and yield of the control.... This agrees with our observation in other species that early flooding does not necessarily result in plant mortality. Young root systems probably recover following flooding due to their superficial distribution near the soil surface which dries out first when flooding ceases."
The eggplant should be sown first and the tomato seed planted as the growing point of the eggplant appears above the cotyledons (2-3 weeks later). If necessary, tomato scions (budwood) can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, but must be wrapped with newspaper and covered in a plastic bag. (The same is not true for eggplant scions.) Tomato scions were made when the plant reached the three true-leaf stage by cutting at an angle of 30ø.
Simple rubber tubing, of the type used for bicycle valves, was used to hold the scion onto the stock. The tubing was cut at the same 30ø angle. Then the rubber tubing plus scion were slipped onto the cut surface of the eggplant stem. Lining the angle of the cut of the scion with the angle of the cut on the tubing helps to correctly position the scion/rootstock surfaces. They can graft 150-200 seedlings per hour. To reduce grafting costs, they are experimenting with pinching the tops to form two stems so they can plant farther apart.
The plants were kept at 85% relative humidity. The tubing was cut 3-7 days after grafting so as not to restrict stem growth. At the same time plants were removed from the high humidity conditions and hardened off before transplanting. Thanks to Dr. David Midmore at AVRDC for supplying the picture and details from their 1993 annual report. For a copy of the article, write him at AVRDC, P.O. Box 42, Shanhua Tainan 741, Taiwan ROC.
WAX GOURD (Benincasa hispida) or Chinese wintermelon is the best cucurbit for seed oil in the hot, humid tropics. The large fruit (ECHO has grown some a meter long, and they are reported to twice that) has crispy white flesh, and its waxy coating helps give it a long storage life (up to a year without refrigeration). Young gourds are used like chayote, in stretching soups and stews. In China, mature gourds are used as soup pots: they are hollowed out and filled with soup ingredients, "capped" with the cut lid of the gourd, and steamed for up to six hours. Wax gourd prefers high temperatures and moderate rainfall; it does not do well in very high humidity. Hand pollination aids fruit production. Unlike other cucurbits, wax gourd does not contain vitamin A. It has few pests and diseases in most areas.
HAVE YOU TRIED WINGED BEANS, PSOPHOCARPUS TETRAGONOLOBUS? There has been so much promotion of the winged bean that I find myself thinking all of our readers know about it. However, it is too important a plant to fail to bring it to your attention. This legume will vine up a four-meter pole. Nearly all parts are edible and high in protein. The leaves can be cooked like spinach and are quite tasty. The long four-sided pods with serrate "wings" running the length of the corners can be eaten like green beans. The dried seeds are the nutritional equivalent of soybeans. Fried flowers taste like mushrooms. When production is over, the stems can be fed to cattle, and most varieties have edible tubers that contain up to eight times the protein of an Irish potato.
The winged bean is native to the Asian tropics. When I have tried growing green beans during the hot, humid Florida summers, they have always been killed by disease or insects before they could produce pods. Winged beans, on the other hand, seem to resist almost everything except nematodes if well fertilized and watered.
We can send you seeds of a few varieties and a short technical note on the cultivation, preparation, and nutritional value of winged beans. Most varieties only bloom during short days, so they do not bloom and produce pods in Florida until mid-October. On the other hand, there are a few day- neutral varieties that get excellent yields right through the long days of summer. If you are far enough from the equator that this can be a problem, request the day-neutral seed from us. For others, we will send a selection of perhaps four regular varieties.
Winged bean seeds need to be scarified before planting. Alan Lee had less than 50% germination a month after planting his winged bean seeds. "I dug up the ungerminated seeds and nicked them all a few times with the corner of a razor blade, then replanted them. Within a week several had germinated and I expect more." Seeds will not germinate until they have absorbed water. Scarification softens or opens the seed coat so water can be absorbed. Nick the seed with a knife or file or strike it across cement as in striking a match. Some seeds are soaked overnight. (Leucaena seeds are put in water that has just been boiled then left overnight. If you have any hard seeds that fail to germinate, it is possible the seed may still be viable. It may need to be scarified.)
After fourteen years of growing winged beans and distributing seed, we have come to believe that their potential has been overstated. Only very special recipes make the dried seeds appealing in taste. Pods are acceptable to the North American taste, but other beans are usually preferred. Leaves and raw flowers are quite good but probably limited to household use. No one at ECHO cares much for the tubers. (If the beans were propagated by tubers year after year, as is the practice with some other beans, it is possible that they might develop more in size and be more useful, although the texture might deteriorate.) Our impression from our network is that no one has had a major success introducing winged beans. In its countries of origin, winged bean products continue to be popular. It is worth trial for its many virtues, but do not expect as much of its market potential as early reports indicate.