This summer my garden is stuffed with Chinese long beans and cowpeas. Cowpeas, also known as black-eyed peas, are technically a bean. You can eat the seeds and the pod. As the beans mature the pods will get more tough and the the seeds will get larger. So if you would like to eat the pod you should harvest the cowpeas when they are young and treat them similar to green beans. If you want the peas, you want to let them mature on the stalks until you can clearly see plump seeds inside. I chose to harvest them for their peas. And now… I have a confession to make. I’ve never shelled peas before! It was as much fun as everyone says it is. 😉 Actually I didn’t find it that bad – just time consuming.
So after I harvested and shelled my cowpeas I did a lot of brainstorming trying to think up a dish to cook up with my fresh cowpeas. I didn’t have many fresh cowpeas (only about half of a cup) so unfortunately I couldn’t do a cowpea-focused dish. I also had a lot of odds-and-end in the fridge that I wanted to eat up: half of an English cucumber, a cup of cherry tomatoes, two zucchini, and a small chunk of feta cheese. So I decided to put them all together and make a summer veggie and quinoa salad. I added in some sweet corn and red onion and topped it with a lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette. It was delicious! It was a great use of the fresh cowpeas and I love that I got to put all my other veggies to use. (I really hate wasting food.) The fresh cowpeas were really delicious. To cook them all I did was simmer them in a saucepan of water, partially covered, for about 30 minutes. They came out very buttery and had a great silky texture. I’m already thinking that next summer I want to plant many more cowpeas.
Now, with regards to the Chinese long beans, I have many pictures but unfortunately they are not so pretty. Shortly after planting these beans I noticed some of the plants’ leaves were deformed and yellowing.
I did some Googling to find bean plants with similar looking leaves to see what kind of disease I had stumbled upon. And to my dismay my searches led me to conclude that my bean plants had picked up the mosaic virus. Ugh. The thing with mosaic virus is that you can’t do anything about it. Your plant is done. And to make matters worse, it spreads easily. It’s commonly spread by aphids; an aphid will bite an infected plant and then bite a healthy plant after and spread the virus.
So not only does this virus kill your plant, if you don’t nip it in the bud quickly, it can spread and wipe out your whole crop. And it did.
To be fair I was in denial at first and didn’t pull the infected plants as soon as I should have. If I had pulled the infected plants as soon as I realized it, maybe some of the long beans could have survived. I got lucky that the virus only took down my Chinese long beans and didn’t spread to my cowpeas or anything else. (Knock on wood.) I did get one harvest out of my long beans however. They were tasty but I knew at the time that they had the virus and their fate was bleak so it made it hard to enjoy the harvest. I finally pulled them up the other day, almost one month after the plants started to show signs of being infected with the mosaic virus.
It was sad but it was long overdue. So goes gardening. At least everything else is looking good so far. Until next time, happy gardening!