Snake beans are a good value crop for the vege patch where summers are hot, and French beans may struggle. They are prolific croppers and 3 plants are probably sufficient to supply a family of 4 through warmer months. A popular ingredient in Asian dishes, they can be substituted for French beans in many recipes. Snake beans can grow up to half a metre or longer but tend to become a little tough if allowed to grow to this length (i.e. the beans at the top of the photo). They are best eaten when 30 – 40 cm in length while they are young, tender and flavoursome. Pods grow fast and should be picked every day, or every second day at least, to ensure that they are harvested at their best, and to keep the vines forming new pods.
Snake beans take up very little space in the garden as they are grown on a trellis in soil that has plenty of compost added, which should keep the soil pH at an ideal level (6.5–7). In late spring, when soil temperature is at least 15 degrees Celsius, sow seeds in damp soil 1 cm deep and 30 cm apart. Do not water the soil again until seed leaves appear, then water regularly to ensure healthy growth. In tropical areas where summer rainfall is heavy, sow seeds in hills to improve drainage. Seeds germinate quickly, and vines can produce pods in 60 days in very hot weather.