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Snake Beans

snake beans

The thing I love about snake beans is that you pick all these today, and tomorrow there’s the same amount again.

And the other thing I love about snake beans is that they don’t mind heat, even extreme heat like we’ve been having.  So long as they get enough water, they’ll keep bearing and even supply some shade and air conditioning to less tropical neighbours.

And the other thing I love about snake beans is cutting them into finger lengths, lightly blanching, and dressing with a garlic-olive oil-balsamic-soy-honey dressing while they are hot.  Or with an Asian style lime cordial-fish sauce-sesame oil dressing. Or in a Green Bean and Mango salad. Or waiting until they are mature and shelling them to use like adzuki beans.

All in all, a lot to love about snake beans.  Joy, in the Comments, asked where I got my seeds.  These are a brown seeded variety I have been saving for many years.  If you are gardening in a warm enough climate and you’d like some, I shall send some to the first 10 people in Australia to ask for them in the Comments.

{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Joy January 24, 2013, 3:10 pm

    Hi Linda Can you tell us whose seed you use please. Joy

  • Linda January 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

    Hi Joy, I’ve been saving my own for many years now. I think originally they might have been Eden Seeds? I shall send you some if you like. In fact, I shall send some to the first 10 people in Australia to ask for some in these Comments. (They really are sub tropical to tropical though – mine don’t take off until the weather heats up, and I’m in northern NSW).

  • Nadja January 24, 2013, 3:17 pm

    Hi Linda, do you think the snake beans would stand a chance against chooks if they were grown up the outside of a chook run? Currently pondering options to shade a yet-to-be-built chook structure while we wait for our nashi and pear trees to grow up and do the job.

  • Linda January 24, 2013, 3:20 pm

    They grow tall enough to be out of chook range. So long as they were planted on the outside, I can’t see why not. But they aren’t perennial. You might be better with a short lived perennial bean, like Madagascar bean in the subtropics, or Red flowering bean in temperate areas. Or a fast growing semi-perennial like leucaena.

  • Nadja January 24, 2013, 3:25 pm

    Thanks – might give them a try – I do like eating them!

  • Joy January 24, 2013, 3:36 pm

    Hi again, Yes I would like some and would it be too late to start them off this summer? Joy

  • celia January 24, 2013, 3:52 pm

    They are my favourite bean in the whole wide world, and I used to ask my mother to cook them on every birthday. I am SO grateful for the seeds, and they’re growing so well, thank you! They’re a bit behind yours, ours are just making flowers now..

  • Linda January 24, 2013, 4:46 pm

    Hi Joy, I’m starting a new round this weekend, probably the last one for this year, but I should get a good month of bearing from it.

  • Linda January 24, 2013, 4:47 pm

    Hi Celia, you are probably pretty close to the southern range for them, so I’m glad they’re flowering. I hope you get a bountiful crop!

  • greenfumb January 24, 2013, 6:21 pm

    I’m liking them too. I saved some seeds from my vege box last year and they are going great guns. Unlike the Rattlesnakes that dried up in the two heatwaves, hope yours are doing better. At least I’ll have plenty of seeds for next year.

  • Linda January 24, 2013, 6:58 pm

    Ooh! Yes please Linda. I would love to try them!

  • Tanya January 24, 2013, 7:04 pm

    I would love some seed but we have strict quarantine laws for Tasmania. Mum remembers these beans from her childhood and her father grew them in the outback in QLD. We keep looking out for seed here and hope one year to find them.

  • Lydia January 24, 2013, 7:44 pm

    Oh wow, I would love some seeds please! I’ve been eyeing off the snake beans at my local grocer’s, as my beans haven’t done very well this year. Wondering what variety to try next. Your garden always sounds so luscious!

  • Anonymous January 24, 2013, 8:00 pm

    Hi Linda we grew snake beans for the first time this year from the seeds you sent us last year. They have been very productive, so thanks!

  • Clare January 24, 2013, 8:07 pm

    I’m 30km south of Grafton – do get frosts so not sure if suitable but would like to try.

  • Linda January 25, 2013, 6:59 am

    Hi Tanya, I think you might be very lucky to get them to grow in Tasmania anyway. They really do like it hot and wet. I try planting mine in August every year, but the August planted ones sulk and the September ones always catch up.

  • farmer_liz January 25, 2013, 8:13 am

    Hi Linda, I’m not sure now if I’m in the first 10, but if you have some to spare, I would love to try them this year, I only need 4-5 seeds to get started. I have a friend who grew them this year, so I finally saw them for the first time. They seem to be prolific, even in the heat, my normal climbing beans have been very slow to get to producing this year. Happy to swap anything else you need, I have a stash of silverbeet and parsley at the moment, but I’m sure you have those too!

  • Shirley January 25, 2013, 8:15 am

    They look great, I would love some seeds if I am not too late, here in Brisbane it’s been so hot, we’ve been having trouble keeping our vegie garden going being on tank water alone, may be these will be survivors, Love your Blog

  • Melania January 25, 2013, 12:05 pm

    Hi Linda, I haven’t counted but if I made it, I would love to receive seed from you. I am in Brisbane, I have just planted a batch of black seeded ones that I think are snake beans but have left the other side of the trellis free for another batch of beans.


  • Linda January 25, 2013, 12:08 pm

    Hi Melani, they’ll be on their way to you today. I like the brown seeded ones much better than the black seeded ones.

  • Janice Fenech January 30, 2013, 3:46 pm

    Hi Linda, I would also love some of your seed as I too LOVE snake beans and up until now have been growing only the black seeded variety. They grow wonderfully up here in hot humid Cairns! Can I email u my address privately?

  • Penny February 19, 2013, 2:12 am

    Help please! My snake beans are being eaten by something. I get a lot if them half eaten before I pick them. I am losing most of my crop. What is it and how can I protect my crop? Its not insect because it gets cut half , the beans. more likely birds some kind. i put metal mesh above the vine but still loosing a lot. Thanks.

  • Linda February 19, 2013, 7:56 am

    Hi Penny, birds for sure. Aaaagh, wildlife! All you can do is net them really. You can buy bird net at produce stores – it’s cheap and will do the job.

  • Peggy March 4, 2013, 2:01 am

    I’ve grown them before here in Toowoomba. The cooler nights do not seem to bother them. I would live 4-5 of your seeds if there are any left.

    Burr gherkins are going to be my experimental veg next summer. They also are supposed to cope well with hot weather. Have you grown, or eaten them before? I hope they are as nice as the write ups I’ve seen :-). A full package of seed is always more than I can use and I’d be happy to send you some if you would like.

    Thank you for all the experience you share so generously.

  • Linda March 4, 2013, 7:56 am

    I’ve never grown gherkins. They would be interesting to try.

  • Emily June 25, 2013, 2:16 pm

    I was given a snake bean and was wondering if I have to do let the seeds dry out before planting them. Would love some advice! Thank you

  • Linda June 25, 2013, 2:17 pm

    Hi Emily, I wait until the pods are yellow before picking them for planting, then let the seeds dry out. If the seeds are green, I doubt they’ll germinate even if you dry them.

  • Vyjayanthi January 30, 2014, 12:16 am

    I live in Sydney. I would love some of your snake bean seeds as well and some guidelines as to how to grow them successfully. I usually buy them from an Asian store, which is taken over by a new owner who hiked up the grocery prices and reduced the quantity. My kids love them too. So I thought may be I should try to grow them organically. Is it too late for this year?


    Is it too late for me plant them this year?

  • Linda January 30, 2014, 11:54 am

    Hi Vyjayanthi,
    I shall send you some seeds. There’s a good little bit about how to grow them at http://witcheskitchen.com.au/sweet-and-spicy-snake-beans/

  • Anonymous November 7, 2014, 6:43 pm

    Hi Linda
    I live in Orange,and I planted a few seeds from diggers ,i have started them in a pot on the hot cement and have put black bricks where I intend to plant them to increase the heat. I love trying to grow things that people say don’t grow here,hope I manage to do it.
    Wish me luck Marina

  • Linda November 7, 2014, 6:53 pm

    I hope they grow for you – they should. And they’re worth the effort. Good luck!

  • Amanda December 14, 2014, 6:55 pm

    Hi Linda,
    I was persuaded by your rave reviews of snake beans and am now enjoying them for the second year (though I switched from a dwarf to a climbing variety and, as you say, it’s so much more productive and also more space effective!).
    Anyway, both years I’ve had trouble with black ants, maybe 2-3mm long, that hang out in groups at the flower bit, where each pair of beans begins. As soon as I touch the vine to pick, they swarm everywhere and I can’t seem to avoid taking dozens into the house each time.
    Do you also have this problem, and if so, how do you dissuade them? (I’m in southern Qld.)

  • Linda December 16, 2014, 2:44 pm

    HI Amanda, I have had the occasional ant on the snake beans – there must be something sweet in the flower. But never swarms of them. Dunk the beans in a bucket of water before you bring them in?

  • Amanda December 16, 2014, 8:52 pm

    Thanks, I’ll give that a try. Now I just need a magic remedy to stop them climbing my arm and dropping into my blouse!

  • steve November 4, 2015, 9:36 pm

    I,m trying to get dwarf snake beans online , but after sending for seeds from 3 different sellers they,ve all turned to be the climbing variety.
    (And wasted a lot of growing time )
    Can you tell me were I may get the dwarf (BUSH) Type of seeds
    Hoping you can help

  • Linda November 5, 2015, 8:19 am

    Sorry Steve, I use the climbing brown seeded variety myself.

  • Antonio grice June 10, 2016, 11:58 am

    Are snake bean leaves edible or poison.I had put some of them in my curry with some edible leaves accidentally.

  • Linda June 13, 2016, 1:01 pm

    I don’t really know Antonio. This website says bean leaves are edible, and it looks like a credible source. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/newsletters/hortupdate/hortupdate_archives/2005/may05/SecVeget.html Snake beans are fairly closely related to black-eyed peas, and their leaves are fairly widely eaten, so I’d guess yes.

  • Cate July 31, 2016, 6:10 pm

    I am new to the vege gardening thing – learning as I go and loving it. I grew snake beans this year in Brisbane and had the most outstanding crop. Now is it winter and the plant has finished flowering. Do I pull it out or will it grow again next season? If so, do I cut it back or leave it as is? And thank you for the wonderful recipes!!!!!

  • Linda July 31, 2016, 7:04 pm

    They’re annuals, so they probably won’t bear again. I’Ad pull them out. Save seeds and plant again as soon as it warms up enough. Glad you like the recipes!

  • Anonymous February 17, 2017, 11:00 am

    Yes please I LOVE gardening sooooo much!!!

  • Keith L October 21, 2019, 10:07 pm

    I’m in southern Tasmania and grew snake been successfully for a number of years. The secret is late spring or early summer for planting in a Tasmanian climate. They have to be the most productive and versatile green bean one can have in a garden and their climbing ability means they don’t demand much space either. Unfortunately, letting my garden lapse for a couple of years, I no longer have any seed. Any Tasmanian gardners able to help me out this year?

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