The sword bean (*Canavalia gladiata*) is a plant species that belongs to the *Fabaceae* legume family. It is named for its bean pods which are sword-like in shape. They are edible in moderate quantities when prepared properly, and are similar in taste to broad beans. These beans are not widely cultivated for commercial use, but are mainly seen in countries like China, Korea, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Indonesia. Sword bean pods can grow to a little over a foot long, and one to two inches wide. These long green pods contain large, red seeds that can range in color from pink to brown. \n\nSword beans are usually planted from dry seeds in the early spring for harvest by late summer. Sword beans need a long, warm growing season, and as a tropical plant, their foliage will not be able to tolerate frost. They thrive in warm climates found in [USDA hardiness zones](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/guide-to-planting-zones) 10 through 12. Sword beans can establish in a variety of soils, require full sun (but are shade tolerant), and are relatively drought-tolerant. \n\nSword beans can be grown easily in anyone’s backyard. They take about six weeks to grow, and the beans mature in about 100 days. Here is an overview of how to grow sword beans in your own garden bed. \n\n1. __Purchase the sword beans__. To grow sword beans, all you need to do is to plant sword beans in the ground and germinate them. You can purchase seeds at nurseries, or simply buy sword beans at the grocery store.\n2. __Prepare your soil__. Sword beans can grow in acidic to neutral soil, but prefer a pH of 5.0 to 6.0. Like most beans, sword beans will fix their own nitrogen, so it is usually not necessary to fertilize. Loosen the soil to make sure that it drains well to avoid pooling and root rot.\n3. __Pick a location to plant__. Plant your sword beans in a place that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Sword beans are avid climbers that will need additional support for their trailing vines, so you should provide a trellis or support for them to climb. Wrap the vines around a pole or fence to keep them off the ground and in the sun. \n4. __Plant your seeds__. Dig a hole for your seeds that is about two inches deep with about six inches of spacing in between the plants if you’re growing multiple in the same bed. \n5. __Water your seeds__. Water your seed right after you plant it and continue to keep the ground moist but not oversaturated with water. Your plant should start to bloom in about six weeks. \n6. __Check for pests__. Sword beans are relatively pest and disease-free, but aphids and grasshoppers can occasionally eat the flowers and leaves. This can reduce your crop’s yield, so make sure to periodically check for pests. \n7. __Harvest your beans__. Sword bean seed pods take at least 100 days to fully mature, but harvesting immature pods lessens the likelihood that they will make you sick. Ripe pods are at 10 to 12 inches in length and have a waxy appearance, with slight indentations throughout the skin where the beans have formed. Pinch off the pod right near the flowering end of the plant to harvest the beans. \n\nGrow your own garden with Ron Finley, the self-described "Gangster Gardener." Get the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/) and learn how to cultivate fresh herbs and vegetables, keep your house plants alive, and use compost to make your community - and the world - a better place.\nSword beans are not farmed commercially, but you can easily grow them in your own garden bed.