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macmex

Insuk's Wang Kong (Runner bean)

Macmex
14 years ago

Hey folks,

I thought I'd start a thread on this bean, as it is quite an interesting variety. A couple of us received seed of Insuk's Wang Kong from Gardenweb member Jim Wright and have trialed it this year. This is basically a Scarlet Runner bean, but with Korean roots. I believe the Wright's source originally told them that they thought it was brought from China. Anyway, here's what I've observed:

1) This has the largest seed of any runner bean I've ever seed. The seed is about twice the size of regular runner bean seed.

2) Insuk's Wang Kong flowers very profusely. It produced a cloud of red flowers in my garden this year.

3) This bean is remarkably heat tolerant for a runner bean. Most runner beans which I've grown would probably have done alright in NJ, but not here in Oklahoma. I grew some runner beans in the high desert of Hidalgo Mexico, in the 90s, as an experiment. They tolerated alkaline conditions but wouldn't make seed due to the dry air conditions and hot days we experienced. I believe Insuk's Wang Kong has a chance at making seed in, what are to runner beans, a hostile environment.

Unfortunately, we had over 1 1/2 months of 100 degree F. plus days, just as mine were setting on pods. The plants survived for about a month and then gave up the ghost. When I shelled the pods I had very little seed, and most of it was not properly matured. I will, however, try to get this one in earlier and later, next year. I do believe it can make it here. Jim has reported to me that some have had success in AZ!

While I don't expect to produce a heavy surplus of snaps with this variety, it is truly beautiful and would be tasty for sure. I didn't dare eat these beans, but once, I did try one raw pod. It was sweet and tender.

Jim and Chris, chip in here and give us some feedback, okay?

George

Tahlequah, OK

Comments (151)

  • oliverjround
    13 years ago

    George,
    Thanks for the info. I would love to try and grow some one day. I have a bunch of White Lady's (http://www.tmseeds.com/product/231.html) growing now. I am curious to see how they do in the heat.

    Oliver

  • soonergrandmom
    13 years ago

    jwr6404 - We are still working on our house so I only planted those five beans. They are doing great and I can see red blooms getting ready to open. Thanks again for the seeds. Carol

  • laughter
    13 years ago

    Has anyone grown them here in CT? I'd love to give them a try. The images you've all put up are really impressive. I want a bit of that happiness in my garden! :)

  • april9
    13 years ago

    I'm growing them in zone3a. I'll report to you in September.

    April9

  • susaneden
    13 years ago

    I just planted these last week--they are already 5 inches tall. Wow--what a fast grower :D

    Thanks again for the seed, Jim!

  • shebear
    13 years ago

    Could someone send me some seeds for the Jr. Master Gardners at our community garden to plant in the fall? I'll get a large trellis set up for them this summer and they can play Jack in the Beanstalk too.

    In case any of you haven't seen this either.......google "keyhole gardens" and check out this cool raised bed idea that's being used in Africa. Composting and gardening all in one bed. I also thought "bag gardening" was quite cool for use of vertical space.

    TIA

  • plant-one-on-me
    13 years ago

    I just wanted to say that I enjoy this bean very much. I didn't get to plant quite as many as I wanted to this spring but am so glad I tried them. I started picking in very early spring when the beans were just 3 or so inches long. I love them small and steamed. I continued to pick off the dozen or so vines and left the rest to go to seed. We will be eating pretty well this winter off those dried beans. I think I have about 3 pounds so far off a row of about 6 ft. This bean is going to take on a much larger section of the garden next year...sorry bush beans.

  • pnbrown
    13 years ago

    Can anybody spare me a few of these for next year? They sound really cool - would love to try growing them on corn.

    Will send an SASE. email me at pbrowninc@verizon.net

    Thanks!

  • Macmex
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Jim, I don't have any to spare, as I have not yet succeeded in producing seed. But I bet someone here will be able to help you out.

    My late planting looks very good. But it may not make seed before frost. We'll see. If I had gotten in a late June planting, as I had planned, I bet they would have done well. Our summer was cooler and wetter than usual. Of course "cooler" is in relative terms. We still went nearly six weeks with daily temps topping over 100 F. Such is the heat and drought that many plants react as if they had just been through winter and flower. Some of our pears did this, this year.

    But the weeks leading up to that 6 week "desert time" were cooler and wetter, and since that time we've had more rain and more moderate (as in ideal) temps.

    George

  • cabrita
    13 years ago

    Thanks to Jim's generosity I am now a new member of the Insuk's Wang Kong beans club! Will be my first experience with the P. coccineus species (runner beans) and we will attempt to have them as a perennial bean. Very exciting, as we are also getting ready to plant our first perennial squash.

    We will plant half of half in each garden (reserving half of them for spring planting just in case....just in case because it has been known to get to 100 here in November, and I read that the bean would not make pods above 92F?)

    I understand they need fertile soil and do better in partial shade, not too hot not too cold? We already have spots in mind, somewhat shaded by other plants and in one case part of a building. I was wondering if you folks pre-soak them first in warm water or just plant directly. Any further advice?

  • jwr6404
    13 years ago

    george
    As far as size this was my best crop ever. Send me your address again(I never save addresses) and I'll send you some more seeds.
    Jim

  • blujen_gw Zone 6b Wichita KS
    13 years ago

    Hi,
    How would these do in a hot summer with high winds? I've grown Kentucky Wonder and Molly Frasier Cutshorts, and the Kentucky Wonders do great, but the Cutshorts don't do well in the wind and i'm looking for something that will produce well here in Kansas.
    Thanks in advance!
    -Jenny

  • Macmex
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Jenny, I doubt that Insuk's Wang Kong would be a very good choice for your Wichita summers. It would do better than any other runner bean that I know of. But I'm almost certain that your Molly Frasier Cutshorts would do better than Insuk's Wang Kong... in your area, with the wind and heat in the summer.

    I have a couple other kinds of cutshorts which have done well for me here in Tahlequah. We aren't quite as dry as you are, and we don't have quite as much wind. But we have heat! I'd recommend that you use the KY Wonders as your main bean and trial a couple others, till you find just what you want. If you REALLY want red flowers, then go ahead with Insuk's Wang Kong. But I'd recommend that you do what I did this summer. I planted late in the season and am getting a decent pod set during these cooler, more humid days. I still don't know if I'll get seed, and I did have a set back in that area, this last weekend, when one of my daughters came home from college and helped pick... a ... mess... of beans... ... for dinner!

    George

  • ruthieg__tx
    13 years ago

    I just had a few seeds and they grew beautifully but never set a single pod. I suspect that I got them in the ground too late.

  • hemnancy
    13 years ago

    My Thompson & Morgan catalog says that pole beans will develope without pollination but Runner beans require insect pollination. That might explain why they might not set pods well in late fall, if the insects are not out.

    For those with late spring frosts, I use tunnels (TunLCover) for protection of early planted tomatoes and squash. They have worked for me through frosts and snow. I usually wait until after frost dates to plant beans out.

  • albionwood
    13 years ago

    The husks are finally drying on mine, so I have begun saving seed for next year. They were so successful, and sooooo good eating, that I intend to plant many rows of them. Following a suggestion from someone on this forum, I'm going to try using them as windscreens to protect summer squash and bush beans (can't live without my Dragon's Tongue).

    For those wondering about eating them - these were the best green beans I've grown. (Right up there with Dragon's Tongue, but a whole different taste.) Pick them before the seeds begin to swell, just as you would snap beans, and cook any way you like. You will be surprised how quickly they cook - they look like they will be tough and woody, but in fact they get tender and sweet faster than regular beans do. None of that rubbery squeaky mouthfeel, either.

    I even threw some on the grill - hey, it's California, we put _everything_ on the grill - basted with olive oil and dusted with a little garlic - they were terrific. Also wonderful sauteed, with garlic or shallots, with sherry reduction and/or cream... stir-fried... etc.

    We froze a few and pickled a few to see how well they keep. Anybody else try that?

  • Macmex
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Well, frost has hit here in Tahlequah, OK for the past three mornings in a row. Yesterday I broke down and picked all the remaining Insuk's Wang Kong pods from my plants, along with pods of every other bean I still had going. I didn't manage to get seed this year. But I'm going to try again in 2009. Next time I'm going to look for a spot with some afternoon shade. We'll see.

    My daughter and I were alone for dinner last night. I cooked up those IWK pods. As Albionwood mentions above, they were GOOD! They make a very meaty, sweet snap bean. I even ate some with some seed filled out and they were good too.

    George

  • jimster
    12 years ago

    George, I did just the opposite of you with my Insuk's. I increased seed and ate none! I'm glad to know that the snaps cook up nice and tender because raw they seem tough and course. Now I'm eager for year's crop so I can eat them. Those seeds sure are pretty to look at.

    Jim

  • davek-ne
    12 years ago

    Hi! I'm working on planning next spring's garden here in Omaha, and I ran across some information about runner beans which eventually led me here looking for Insuk's beans.

    I wonder if someone might share some of these beans with me?

    Thanks!

  • jwr6404
    12 years ago

    David
    E-mail me your address and quantity of seed you need. Don't worry about postage.
    Jim

  • cabrita
    12 years ago

    Progress with my beans: I planted 7 of them two weeks ago and I got 3 very good looking sprouts (with leaves already), one that might have been partially eaten (I'll wait). After I planted it got to 97 F here, sometimes this happens. I planted in a somewhat protected shady area but...still. My guess is that 3 of them found it too hot, since there is some genetic variability, I am hoping I am selecting the ones that will do better in my climate. I will be planting some more in the spaces I made for them and build some taller trellises for them. The weather is now perfect for them, from what I have been reading in this thread, it even rained a couple of days ago (we all get really happy here when it rains LOL)

  • jaynine
    12 years ago

    I would love to try this particular bean. Is there any chance of acquiring a few?
    Thanks,
    Janine

  • happyday
    12 years ago

    Those are beautiful beans and blossoms. I have read that Scarlett Runner beans were poisonous till cooked. I hope that the toxic lectin phytohaemagglutinin in Phaseolus vulgaris does not form in the pod, too. I eat alot of raw pods in the garden.

    Does anyone eat the roots of Phaseolus coccineus

    Here is a link that might be useful: more about beans

  • jwr6404
    12 years ago

    happyday
    Your seeds are in the mail as of today.Janine
    PM me with your address.
    Jim

  • happyday
    12 years ago

    Jim, :) :) :) I was going to be like George and say that I had enough beans for now, no more new beans! but those purple beans are gorgeous. Thank you.

    The first bean I ever planted was the Scarlet Runner bean. I planted them too early and they rotted, then I read that runner beans have a toxin, and I gave up on them, even though the scarlet runner bean is pretty enough enough to be worn as costume jewelry. Also they are huge.

    Since then I have grown limas, which are toxic raw, and now I hear that even common beans, which I eat raw all the time are moderately toxic, so what the hell.

    I have a new raised bed in a partially shaded spot where I can try the Insuk together with groundnuts. Zeedman, do you think that if I heavily mulched this bed next fall, the roots might survive a Wisconsin winter?

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    12 years ago

    Happy, it's not likely that the roots would survive our winters without extraordinary protective measures. I've read that the roots can be dug up & over-wintered, but have never tried it. From what I have heard from others, it is difficult to accomplish successfully... and given the length of our winters, they would probably not survive until Spring.

    No worries, though... as you can tell from comments made in this thread, "Insuk's" grows very rapidly from seed.

    As for toxicity... if the raw snaps are poisonous, I'm already doomed. ;-) I've eaten the immature pods often as a snack while gardening. They are a little rougher on the outside than P. vulgaris snaps, but are sweet & tender inside. I would not eat the developed seeds raw, however... which is good practice for most raw legume seed (peas & peanuts excepted).

  • galina
    12 years ago

    Happy

    I live in England where our winters are zone 8 and as an experiment I mulched last year over my runnerbean roots. Unfortunately I lost the lot. In your zone 4b as Zeedman suggested, there is practically no chance that they would survive.

    On the other hand, overwintering them is fairly straightforward and I do this every year. I have some sitting in the conservatory/sunroom now. I cut the stems about 6 inches above ground, then dig the roots with a generous amount of soil around the roots. I place them in a double plastic bag, but that is just convenience. They could be planted in a large container of some sort just the same. I keep them in a light, frost-free but quite cold place. I water very sparingly. Just to keep them marginally damp I tie the handles on the plastic bag which prevents drying out. I guess more watering is needed in a container or a large pot.

    In spring they will resprout and can be replanted, once danger of frost has passed. I don't get 100 percent, but perhaps 8 out of 10 roots will resprout. Often more than one new shoot develops, making two plants out of one root.

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    12 years ago

    Galina, good to hear from someone with experience overwintering runner beans. I've got tons of questions. ;-)

    - How do your over-wintered roots compare to plants grown from seed? Are they earlier, or higher yielding? I am just wondering if the advantages make the effort worthwhile.

    - How long does it take to grow roots large enough to survive the lifting process? In other words, how many days do your plants grow between the time they are planted, and the time they are dug up?

    - How many months do you keep the roots dormant? Here, the period from Autumn frost to last Spring frost is about 7 months! :-o I do not believe the lifted roots would survive so long a period of dormancy, although I am tempted to put that to the test.

    It's pretty cold here now, hasn't been above -20 C. all day.

  • galina
    12 years ago

    Zeedman

    To your point one. I started overwintering because I had not been very successful saving seeds one summer many years ago and wanted another opportunity. This is how I started, but I continued because it is a worthwhile exercise for us. Yes the plants are earlier, but that can be a mixed blessing. One year I had such big shoots growing out of my plastic bags that I had to trim them because it was too early to plant them out. Trimming is fine, because they will just send out side-shoots which carry on as leaders. If you get two stems and have good soil or feed the plants sufficiently then you get double the yield. I doubt they are higher yielding per se, but some years we get a late good flush of beans and if the main harvest was early, that second flush is more likely to happen before frost puts and end to the season.

    Sowing to digging-up time. I sow in early to mid May indoors and plant out mid to late May. Our last frost date is late May/early June. I dig the roots up just before the first ground frost is forecast, usually during the first half of October. The fleshy roots are quite irregularly shaped and it is necessary to dig around them generously to get all of it.

    I don't keep them dormant, they stay dormant until the temperatures and light levels rise again, usually in April. Suddenly the first new stems and a few leaves grow out of the plastic bags stretching towards the light. After planting out in May, I protect them with fleece/frostcloth until our weather is frost free. At this stage beans from seeds are only seedlings and although they grow fast, the overwintered ones will produce beans 3 weeks to a month earlier.

    There might just be an extra benefit for gardeners in the USA. Most runnerbeans, with the exception of Insuk's Wang Kong, don't appreciate heat and need a lot of moisture. Overwintered ones are ready to produce earlier in the growing year, when the weather hasn't turned hot yet and when the ground is still quite moist.

    There is quite a lot about overwintering runner beans on www if you 'google'. However mostly from UK sources. It was a much-employed technique by Victorian gardeners, but I don't know whether it was practised much outside of Britain.

    I can't promise that it will work out for you and your growing conditions - our climates are very different. But there is no particular reason why it could not work either. If you try it, I'd be very interested to hear about the outcome.



  • happyday
    12 years ago

    Galina, thanks for the good info. Do you grow Scarlet Runners, or Insuk Wang Kong, or another kind of runner?

    In my case everything indoors is heated, so storage options are only either room temp or frozen outside. I could keep them in a 5 gallon bucket in the basement. They would be room temp but in the dark. Would darkness keep them dormant? Do they need air movement to prevent rotting? If I left the lid ajar they would be more likely to pick up some light. Maybe I could put cardboard over the bucket. It would breathe a little bit.

    Can someone tell me, should I plant the Insuk Wang Kong in full sun or partial shade? Should I give them a trellis to climb, if so, how far up will they go?

  • happyday
    12 years ago

    This site says to overwinter like dahlias, then describes rinsing dahlia roots clean. So I might try storing cleaned Insuk roots in the refrigerator, if they are not too big.

    Another possibility is to build a big compost pile just before frost and stick them inside. I had a 4'x4'x10' winter compost pile a couple of years ago, loaded with leaves, grass and about a million holiday pumpkins, and it was hot all winter. Of course it might sprout too early or rot in there, too.

  • galina
    12 years ago

    Happy

    I have only grown Insuk's once - this year for seedsm so not much experience yet. My favourites are Painted Lady, but I have grown many other varieties too. Lady Di, Sunset, Black Magic, Butler, Stenner, Virag etc. In Britain we grow a lot more runnerbeans for pods than gardeners in warmer areas who mostly grow them for the flowers and for the seeds.

    As is the case with just about every gardening technique, there are as many ways of doing something as there are gardeners. And we need to make the best of the environment we have or can create. Scrubbing roots clean and storing in the fridge might well work as might storing them in an active compost pile. Both methods could be capable of preventing the drying out of the roots and the freezing of the roots. If you get one of these methods to work please tell us because there will be a lot of interest within this group.

  • happyday
    12 years ago

    Jim, got the Insuks today. My god they are HUGE! Zeedman, they look even bigger than the Bird's Egg #3! You have grown both, which is bigger? Well, I'll find out this summer.

    Also the Insuks are still very plump looking, although dry and hard. Like corn, some beans shrink and wrinkle when dry and some stay plump looking. Is this because the Insuks have more starch, or protein, than other beans, or a lower water or sugar content?

    I look forward to trying them. My neighbor has a cattle panel he might let me use to make an arch. Will be great if it attracts hummingbirds too.

    Going to be a great garden next year, hope all are well and able to enjoy it! :)

  • jwr6404
    12 years ago

    Happy
    If you really want to appreciate how large the beans actually are take a couple of them and soak them overnight as if you were going to cook them the next day. They will triple in size.Then you will know what Fliptx meant when she said you eat them with a fork.(not an exact quote)
    Jim

  • happyday
    12 years ago

    ...triple?? TRIPLE?

    *insert moment of awed silence here*

    I think I know what Fliptx meant when she said hernia. Fortunately I have lifted weights too, and know the secret. Lift with the knees, not the back. Use a karate kiai if you have to. Also I have a wheelbarrow and a fridge dolly, so as long as I stick to lifting only one bean at a time, I should be ok.

    Looks like my search for the biggest bean is over. The color and name are appropriate. There used to be laws that only kings could wear purple.

  • birdiewi
    12 years ago

    Received my beans today! They are beautiful! Can't wait for June to roll around so I can plant them :) Thank you so much Jim!

    I live in central WI... pondering if I should start them indoors 2 weeks before putting them out. I never thought of starting beans indoors until reading this thread.

    Last year was my first having runner beans. I planted scarlet runners along my garden fence. I didn't know if they were edible or not. I kind of assumed that they were only ornamental. After reading this thread I decided to cook what I had saved. They were really delicious! Mixed with a little brown rice, turmeric, cumin, cilantro and lemon juice.... MMMMMMMM!

    Insuk's Wang Wong will only cross with other runner beans, correct? I have plans to grow quite a few legumes this year but Insuk is the only runner.

  • happyday
    12 years ago

    I had good luck starting bush beans indoors, but will never start pole beans that way again. Not unless they can be started well separate from each other in peat or paper pots with attached support to be planted with them. Pole seedlings will quickly twine themselves together and you won't be able to separate them.

    Better to preheat the planting area with black plastic then direct seed under a belljar, wallowater, or under a soda or milk bottle if you want to start early. YMMV.

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    12 years ago

    Birdie, "Insuk's" will only cross with other runner beans. Where I am (close to Lake Winnebago) "Insuk's" will succeed if direct seeded, because of its heat tolerance. Other runner beans need an early start, so they will (hopefully) set a few pods before hot weather.

    I've had good luck with pole bean transplants; I do it for varieties I am growing for seed, or for rare varieties I can't trust to our temperamental weather. Pole limas & yardlong beans, in particular, are very unreliable in our climate unless started early as transplants. Other than those, unless you are growing a bean for seed, there is generally no need for transplants.

    Last year, however, I started nearly all of my pole beans as transplants - at the time I would have normally planted them directly. Because when it came time to plant, my garden was underwater!!! :-( Fortunately, nearly all did well when I finally got them in... in spite of the rabbits.

    As soon as the beans germinate, they go into a solar greenhouse; they will quickly become leggy under lights, unless you use HPS or similar. They usually have 1-2 true leaves when I transplant them, and are just beginning to put out a runner. The best system I've found is to use peat pots (or strips), in a plastic flat with sand in the bottom. The roots grow into the wet sand, rather than die off as they would otherwise... just be careful to avoid over-watering. When transplanted, these extra roots pull easily from the sand, and if kept moist, minimize transplanting shock.

    Now, let me get this straight... you found a good recipe for the dried runner beans??? I've got to hear more about this... would you consider posting your recipe here?

  • happyday
    12 years ago

  • birdiewi
    12 years ago

    I posted the recipe I use for runner beans. One of my favorite meals. I actually had it for breakfast this morning :)

    I have a different recipe, using similar spices, that I use for beans that cook up to a thick soup.

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    12 years ago

    I came across this variety recently, while searching for other things. I wonder if it is closely related to "Insuk's"? Note the reference to Summer pod set.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Galaxy runner bean

  • flora_uk
    12 years ago

    zeedman - reading the bit about 'whatever the summer weather' as a Brit I think maybe I am getting a different message from you. To me that phrase means 'however wet, cold and gloomy the summer' rather than referring to too much heat! The same thing happens when I read the phrase 'hardening off' on these forums. It took me a long time to realise that many US were often acclimatising their plants to heat and sunshine. To a UK gardener 'hardening off' means accustoming a baby plant to wind, heavy rain and fluctuating low temperatures. ie the British summer. Regarding the possible relationship between Galaxy and IWK - it's possible, but to me Galaxy just likes like most other red flowered runner beans, any of which could fit the bill.

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    12 years ago

    Hmmm... hadn't thought about cool weather tolerance. You could be right, Flora. Perhaps a mistaken assumption on my part. To me, in my area, mid-Summer = heat.

  • flora_uk
    12 years ago

    Just as an example - last August here had fewer hours of sunshine than either last March or last December. Summer 2008 was a wash out.

  • happyday
    12 years ago

    We had our wash out in the spring.

  • cougiecat
    12 years ago

    Wow this bean sounds amazing! I've had my eye on getting a scarlet runner, but was worried about our LA summers. Insuk's Wang Kong sounds like it would get at least another month of podset. And those flowers!

    Jim~ I don't suppose you'd be able to part with a few more?

  • cougiecat
    12 years ago

    Hey Jim!
    Super awesome thanks so much for sending me those beans. My goodness! They are HUGE! I'm afraid to picture the pods those things came in.

    I planted 5 in my neighbor's greenhouse today, and will plant another 3-5 in ground tomorrow. I'm trying convince him to run it up with the jasmine on the side of his greenhouse, but at the very least he's planning on putting a pair on his fence. I've got at least one more friend interested, and another who will want me to pass them along as soon as the roofers stop killing everything in her yard.

    I'm almost tempted to grow only purple or only black beans for a couple of seasons, but the genetic variation is probably a good thing so I don't think I'll try to fix what ain't broke.

    Thank you so much!

  • jwr6404
    12 years ago

    Cougi(becca)
    You probably wouldn't accomplish anything separating them as this is the normal color variation for Runner Beans.I'm sure some of the Bean experts on this thread will comment on your planting idea. I do get an occasional white one which produces white flowers and have saved the seeds. I don't plant them anymore and have offered seeds but no interest. Only Roger in SC seems to have an interest in the white ones and I believe he may try to isolate them.

  • cabrita
    12 years ago

    Here are the IWK beans and the rustic trellis I built for them. I am getting my first flowers. You might see that some of the leaves look really bad. I planted last october and they grew OK, but then completely stopped growth. They did not grow at all for about 3 months. They also seem to be afflicted with something (? not sure what?) and I really thought I was going to lose them. Ever since the spring equinox we got small fresh leaves that started to sprout/grow and they are looking much better. I even got my first flowers. I am really curious if anyone has observed this apparent sensitivity to day length? I suppose for me the best would be to plant on the winter solstice? or a bit after?

    In case you are curious it is celery, parsley and cilantro interplanted with them.

  • rbolger1_comcast_net
    10 years ago

    If anyone has some of the runner bean seeds to trade I have Some Scarlet Empire and Wisley Magic I can trade. PLMK.:)