Monday, April 25, 2011

African Jack Bean: Canavalia ensiformis

I have been growing this tropical legume for several years as I love the huge pods cooked when young and tender like giant Romano green beans. Plus I love the flowers and their wonderful scent in the morning. But I have been inspired to make MUCH greater use of this rare crop after someone kindly sent me a couple videos showing how this very productive crop's use is being expanded in Indonesia for erosion control, soil nitrifying and for food. What I found especially exciting is seeing folks there growing it as a dried "bean" that can be cooked. I make tempeh each summer using organic soybeans (which I do a lousy job of growing) fermented inside banana leaves and so was delighted to see the reference to, and image of, tempeh made with dried Jack Beans.

 I've been debating how to redefine my west bed to address issues of weed control and had considered planting Bahia grass seeds as a source of poultry graze. But this and the other video they sent me fills me with visions of a massive bed of Canavalia ensiformis to choke out weeds, enrich my soil while providing young tender pods plus the dried beans for making soups and tempeh as part of my effort to achieve protein self sufficiency here in my south Tampa yard,

  I have 5 African Jack Bean plants for sale in 1 gallon pots for $5 each on my front porch Honor System plant sales tables out front for local folks who'd want to give this rare, heat-and-humidity loving summer crop a try that will yield them seeds this fall for future growing seasons. John

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