Growing Asparagus Pea, also Winged bean

Lotus tetragonobolus : Fabaceae / the pea or legume family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec

(Best months for growing Asparagus Pea in USA - Zone 5a regions)

  • P = Sow seed
  • Easy to grow. Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 59°F and 68°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 8 - 10 inches apart
  • Harvest in 8-11 weeks. Pick early, pick often.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Best grown in separate bed
  • Asparagus Pea plant ( - Magnus Manske - CC BY-SA 3.0)
  • Pod and flower

This low spreading plant has small trifoliate leaves, and deep crimson flowers are borne in pairs. Harvest pods when approximately 2.5 cm (1 in) long. ( about 80 days)

Asparagus pea is easy to cultivate. It needs average moisture, full sun, and ordinary soil.

It needs a long growing season to flower and fruit properly, so start it indoors in cooler areas.

Only the pods are edible for Lotus tetragonobolus.

Not to be confused with the other asparagus pea, the tropical plant Psophocarpus tetragonolobus, also known as Goa bean.

Support with twigs to keep the stems off the ground. Protect from slugs and snails. Pick pods when small as they become hard and dry if left too long.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Asparagus Pea

Cook quickly by steaming and serve with just a touch of butter and they are said to taste like their namesake .

Your comments and tips

23 Apr 09, Jackie (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
I have never heard of Asparagus Pea. Can anyone tell me where to buy seeds?
03 May 09, steve gow (Australia - temperate climate)
I live in Adelaide South Australia I would like to buy seeds and have been looking for quite a while. Thompson & morgan are apparently now no longer available
28 May 09, Bill Martin (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Also known as the Winged bean, Goa Bean or Asparagus Pea (Psophocarpus or Lotus tetragonolobus) of Southeast Asia often called the 'supermarket on a stalk'; almost the whole plant can be eaten. – The leaves taste like spinach; – the sautéed flowers like mushrooms; – the young pods are like green beans; – the young seeds are like peas; – the tubers are richer in protein than potato, yam or cassava; they can be boiled, fried, baked or roasted. – the mature seeds are like soya beans and also yield oil; they can be ground into flour and even liquefied into a beverage tasting like coffee (with no caffeine). – The leaves can be dried and rolled into low-tar, low-nicotine cigarettes; – As a leguminous plant it has nitrogen-fixing nodules in the roots - great for the garden rotation.
01 Jul 09, Susan (Australia - temperate climate)
Any ideas on getting the seeds/ or tubers. Have already tried Diggers club
02 Aug 09, Dru (Australia - temperate climate)
Have just ordered some seeds from e seeds in UK, they ship internationally but do not know if they will arrive Will post if they do
03 Aug 09, Trish (Australia - temperate climate)
I got asparagus seeds from organic shop in Adelaide Central Market. happy to mail some if anyone can't get hold. My question is I now have fragile looking seedlings in my mini greenhouse. they are just single stems. when are they strong enough to plant out. would well manured soil be too strong for the new roots? thanks
04 Aug 09, Lilly (Australia - temperate climate)
Trish, will you post me some asparagus seeds?
04 Aug 09, Jimmy (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi would love some if you have any spares...
07 Aug 09, Trish (Australia - temperate climate)
oops sorry didn't realise i posted in Asparagus Pea - didn't know such a thing existed. my ? should be under Asparagus. however Lilly and Jimmy I'm happy to check out of can get Asparagus Pea for you. would like to try myself. not sure how we swap email addresses on this site.
08 Aug 09, Sandra (New Zealand - temperate climate)
You can buy asparagus peas with the scientific name of Tetragonolobus purpureus from King Seeds in New Zealand ( I assume this is the same thing? I ordered a bunch last week and they were here witnin 3 or 4 days.
Showing 1 - 10 of 119 comments

I believe beans (winged beans or winged peas as they are called) are medium rooting depth --> that is 18" to 24". You can go online and search for rooting depth of vegetables and you'll get a table that shows: very shallow, shallow, medium, deep and, very deep rooted vegetables. Where very shallow is under 12" , shallow: 12"-18", medium 18"-24", deep 24"-36", very deep 36+". This is also what they call the EFFECTIVE root zone -- so in reality the plant can go deeper. Tomatoes are deep or very deep rooted (and tend toward the 36+" side) -- but many people grow them in containers that are about 18" deep -- the growth is a bit stunted, but other than that they look fine. So when you see that beans like about 24" of depth, that does not mean you can't successfully grow them in a 15" deep pot. I have found that VOLUME of soil is more important than total depth (it's a bit of a give and take) -- but lets say a 10" deep half barrel would be better suited for winged beans than a 24" deep narrow fluted container. Plants sent out roots to collect the necessities of life; water, macro nutrients (N, P, K, calcium etc.) and micronutrients (boron, iron, zinc etc.) - the roots also provide stability. Beans fix their own nitrogen but still need all the other nutrients and I have found benefit greatly from an application of micro nutrients. Whatever container size or shape you choose you need to ensure all the necessities of life are available for the plant; good aeration in the soil (look at orchid pots if you want to understand really good aeration), enough water, nutrients in a timely fashion. A small pot with little soil volume will need to have nutrition added regularly, as the plant will quickly use up all the supplies available in the soil. Further, I have found that pots with a lot of surface area give me plenty of room to top up the plant with compost or manure -- if you don't have room to top up the soil you need to use liquid fertilizers (like making you own leachate - or buying some commercial fertilizers). I remember when I wanted a container garden (my first ever container garden in the city - having always planted plants directly in the soil as containers tend to be expensive) -- anyhow, I learned the hard way HOW FAST the nutrients get used up in containers -- containers tend to require a lot of amendments (fertilizer) compared to plants in the soil for two reasons: 1. plants in the soil can send their roots out further scooping up nutrients, and using what is already there -- like minerals from rocks 2. nutrients tend to also LEACH out of containers when you water; and you are less likely to leach out your nutrients even in raised beds as you need have "run off" to do so. Hope this helps with your decision on size and shape of your pot !!!

- Celeste Archer

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