Growing Bean Trees

Pigeon peas are by far the craziest but most attractive edible legumes I’ve tried growing.
bean tree1My husband assures me this tree is only 10 feet tall. Only! I planted this thing in May.
Picking the pigeon peas is somewhat tricky. Immature pods are shiny and covered in an unpleasant greasy residue. The time to pick is when the pods are matte but before they get crackling dry.
bean tree3There is a large pod-to-seed ratio, and the plants are huge compared to the amount of peas I’m going to get before a frost. I’ll be surprised if I get more than a pound of dried peas off this entire plant. The pods and plants are not wasted- they are a good addition to the compost pile- but if you’re looking for a high-yield in a small space, this is not the legume you are looking for.
bean tree2However, if you are looking for a medium-sized very pretty leguminous tree that produces a huge amount of green biomass in one growing season, has pretty flowers, produces a reasonable amount of food with a long storage capacity in poor soil with very little additional water and no spraying? Pigeon peas might be the answer if you live in zone 8 or higher.
bean tree4Pigeon peas are small but dense. They are the traditional pea/bean in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean areas where phaseolus vulgaris doesn’t grow so well. I have only eaten them out of cans in arroz con gandules, so I’m really looking forward to cooking with the fresh beans. Recipes coming as soon as I harvest enough beans to cook!

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