Sprouting sea beans
I know many people collect them, but have you ever thought about sprouting sea beans?
Here’s a new shot of the hamburger bean (Mucuna urens) I showed you in my previous post on drift seeds:
And now here it is a week after I sawed a notch in it with a pocket knife, soaked it for a day or two, then put it in moist peat moss and vermiculite:
See the little root peeking out? And how weirdly black and swollen the bean looks? That sucker took on a lot of water (and piercing its seed coat was no easy feat). I replanted the bean after the above picture and let it alone for a few more days… until a shoot rapidly emerged from the ground. And I do mean rapidly! It grew about 12″ in a couple of days and started rotating around in a circle looking for something to grasp. It moved so fast that my wife and I sat on the porch and watched it make an entire rotation in about an hour. I stuck a little pole in for it to grab… which it did – and twisted itself completely tight to it within another hour’s time.
From what I read, this particular bean grows many tens of feet into the air… reaching the top of tall trees… so I have no idea how I’ll be able to keep it contained. I’d like to raise it to a point where it bears beans of its own, but that will mean protecting it from frosts this coming winter.
Here it is now:
Mucuna urens is a close relative of the velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens) I’ve been growing but it’s apparently even more tropical. Who would’ve thought you could find a bean on the beach and grow it? I picked these things up dozens of times without ever thinking about germinating one. There’s a first time for everything, I suppose. And even if this doesn’t do anything for my “survival gardener” cred, it’s at the very least a rather satisfying experiment.
For more on drift seeds, check out www.seabean.com.