Cluster beans is largely grown in the Indian subcontinent for its mature seeds which serve as an essential ingredient in the manufacture of Guar Gum. The young seed pods can also be used as an alternative to long yard beans or French beans.
It is also consumed as a vegetable in indigenous curry recipes. Cluster beans carry an exotic taste that is like other legumes and helps in improving soil health with its plantation.
Today we are going to base our discussion on how to grow cluster beans at home so that you can try out the same as per your convenience. Although cluster beans carry a mild bitter taste, it can surely turn into one of your favourites once you get a hang of it.
The ones which are available in the market usually have a hard texture which is why many people like growing it in their home garden. Our today’s guide is targeted for those people who want to know how to grow gawarphali at home from scratch.
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Facts and Properties of Cluster Beans
Cluster beans can be grown easily in containers and balconies. Since they are very easy to germinate, you can sow them directly on the ground. These beans have a certain affinity towards sandy and well-drained soil which is why they are cultivated all around India.
The guar beans are specially harvested during summer months and can provide you with a unique blend of taste and health. Let us first take a brief look at the benefits associated with consuming cluster beans:
- Guar beans are rich in calcium which prevents bone loss by strengthening our bones.
- They contain glyconutrients which maintain the optimum level of blood sugar in our body.
- Cluster beans can lower the level of LDL or bad cholesterol in our body to exert heart healthy effects. It is rich in potassium, dietary fibres and folate which keeps the heart protected from varying cardiovascular complications.
- Guar beans have hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic properties which help in effectively curing hypertension. Both heart disease and diabetes can serve as a trigger of hypertension and both these can be actively contained through regular consumption of guar beans.
- It is a great laxative which can improve your digestive system by stimulating bowel movements. This assists in flushing out all toxins from our system so that we can lead a healthier life.
- Cluster beans have high content of iron and this adds impetus to the production of haemoglobin in our body.
- Guar beans have hypoglycemic properties which help to soothe our nerves and reduce anxiety along the way.
Cluster beans are known by various names across the Indian subcontinent. It is called GoruChikkudu in Telegu and Guar in Hindi. The nomenclature of this nutrient powerhouse also varies from one state to another. It is known as Gawar in Maharashtra, Guar-di-phalli in Punjab, Gawarki phalli in Rajasthan and Guwar phalli in Gujarat. The scientific name of this vegetable plant is Cyamopsistetragonoloba.
What you need to Grow Kothavarangai Plant at Home?
If you are acclimatised with growing southern peas, then you won’t face any problem in growing the cluster beans plant. Its seeds can be bought either online or from physical stores. The long taproot of cluster beans makes transplanting of its seedlings a bad idea. Rather you should plant it directly at your desired spot.
- For best results, you need to choose the sunniest region of your garden and also remove all the weeds before proceeding with the seed plantation. You need to loosen the soil in its area of plantation and apply plenty of compost for enriching the soil.
- The drainage of the soil should also be taken care of in advance. You can sow the seeds either half or one inch deep and cover it up using light soil. 3-4 seeds can be sown at one place and the weaker ones can be removed on attaining a height of 4-5 inches.
- Planting the seeds 6 inches apart will cause it to germinate within just a few days. Under suitable conditions, the seeds can germinate within just two days although they might even take between 6-7 days. You can soak the seeds for 10-12 hours in Amrut Jal for faster germination prior to sowing.
During this time, the soil should be kept properly hydrated unless the plants establish fully. You can opt for a 10-10-10 fertilizer to fertilize your plant following a month of its planting. However, if your soil has inadequate levels of phosphorous, then you might be required to opt for a phosphate fertilizer.
March to September is the best time for growing cluster bean as it grows best during warm months. This is why cluster beans do not fare well in areas which experience heavy monsoons. If you reside in such a region, then you can try sowing your seeds within the March to May period so that they can be harvested within August.
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How to Plant Cluster Beans in Containers?
The average height of cluster bean plants is between 1 to 2 metres. It grows upright and spreads branches which bear oval shaped leaves. The plant bears pink, blue, white and yellow hued flowers and they create shiny green seedpods which is the reason behind its unique nomenclature.
Once the young cluster bean plants reach a height of 4-inches, you need to nip off weaker ones so that the stronger plants stay intact. Being a warm season crop, the water content of the soil tends to evaporate quickly and this creates the requirement of mulching especially when the crops are being grown in containers.
- At the time of sowing seeds, the soil should have a thin layer of organic mulch. You can supplement the mulch once the plants attain the size of 6 inches so that it gets about 4 inches thick. 6-8 hours of direct sunlight is required by the cluster bean plants and they do not deliver adequate results when placed in shades regions.
- The daytime temperature ideally needs to be around thirty-degree Celsius. However, it is imperative to note here that the plant yield falls once the temperature crosses over the forty-degree threshold.
Summers are pretty windy in India and that is why the cluster beans require support which can be offered in the form of staking. This however becomes a luxury you can clearly avoid under normal wind conditions. Cluster beans grown in containers can easily attain a height of 3-5 feet.
First sign of flower appears 50-60 days following germination and during this time you need to add some organic manure such as vermicompost to the container soil. Until then, you can conduct your routine irrigation process using Jeevamrut, Amrut Jal or similar organic soil conditioners every 12-15 days.
Since cluster beans are not heavy eaters, you don’t need to add compost to the soil before they start flowering. While growing cluster beans in containers, you need to choose a pot which is at least ten inches deep. The ideal level of soil pH is between 6.5 to 7.5.
How to Select Seeds?
If you wish to maintain optimum plant stand, then you need to ensure high quality of its seeds. It is always advisable to opt for certified seeds of improved variety which can be obtained from reliable sources.
If you plan on using seeds produced by farmers, then you need to grade the same prior to sowing. During this process, you will have to discard all damaged and shrivelled seeds. Just the bold ones which are devoid of impurities and weeds should be used in the sowing process.
Cluster bean seeds need to be sown during the first fortnight of July as this marks the onset of monsoon. A stark reduction in yield might happen on delaying the sowing post 15th July. However, the cluster bean seeds can be sown maximum until last week of July only under irrigated condition.
While growing the crop during summer season, you need to give special consideration to its planting time. Usually the time between last week of February and first week of March is considered most suitable for sowing the Cluster bean seeds. On delaying its sowing beyond the stipulated time frame, flowering might get adversely affected due to high temperature.
Cluster Beans Germination Time
Under normal circumstances, cluster beans require 2-6 days to germinate. During this phase, the temperature should be between 30-35 degree Celsius.
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Cluster Beans Harvesting
Just like peer beans, cluster beans also need to be harvested using a pair of garden scissors. You should refrain from pulling by hand as this tends to damage the plant and other flowers and young pods on the branch. The flower to pod maturing time of cluster beans is higher in comparison to its more popular peers like long beans or French beans. 10-15 days is required for the pods to mature.
The flowers of cluster beans start blooming after 4-6 weeks from its planting. Next the seedpods form and get ready to be harvested within 8-12 weeks as per the growing conditions. The seedpods need to be harvested young if you are planning on using it as a vegetable. During this stage the seedpods remain soft and slimy and sport a greenish hue. But if you are planning on growing it for the seeds, then the pods should be allowed to dry on plant.
Pests and Diseases
Two of the most common pests which can infect cluster beans are pod borer and leaf-hopper. They can cause a variety of diseases that might crop up anytime between the seedling to the pod formation stage. Let’s take a brief look at the pests and diseases caused by them:
Pests – The most popular pest which can wreak havoc to your cluster beans is termites. They tend to damage the plants by eating its stem and root which ultimately causes poor plant stand. You can control termite infestation by using chlorophyriphos with irrigated water.You can also hinder other soil borne insects by applying chlorophyriphos during last ploughing and prior to sowing.
Aphids, jassids and white flies are small insectswhich suck the sap secreted from cluster bean leaves. As a result, the leaves tend to curl down and their colours change to pale yellow, bronze or white. On severe infestation, the plants might wither down completely. You can tackle this situation by applying water mixed with dimethoate, imidacloprid, malathion or monocrotophos.
Diseases – First comes Alternaria leaf spot disease which is triggered by the Alternaria cyamopsidis fungus. The disease symptoms mostly appear on the leaf blade and bear a dark brown shade. These irregular spots might have a diameter ranging from 2-10 mm.
The second disease in our list is bacterial blight which is caused by bacterium Xanthomonas cyamopsidis. This infestation is popular during the kharif season and can be seen at the surface of the Cluster bean leaf.
Powdery mildew is another popular disease which plagues the cluster bean plants and is caused by the Erysiphe polygoni fungus. The disease symptoms initially take the shape of white powdery growth encompassing the leaf surface. This growth comprises of the fungus and the spores. Spraying wettable sulphur spray can help in gaining an edge over this disease.
Last but not the least comes Anthracnose which is characterised by black spots appearing on the petiole, leaves and stem of the plant. You can deal with the same by spraying a solution of 2 kg Zineb mixed with 500L of water.