My self-seeding bangkwang plants

Bangkwang plants have profuse clusters of flowers that appear to be easily pollinated, judging by the number of bean pods that are produced.

It’s hard to imagine there was a time when I was desperate for a sign of flowers and pods on my bangkwang plants. That was way back when I first started growing bangkwang, or jicama. Since then, I learned to save the seeds and grow more plants. Little did I know that the plants would decide to take matters into their own hands, so to speak.

I’m not referring just to the explosive popping open of the pods that mature on the vine. Those dried pods pack quite a pop when they decide to disperse their seeds. Not only do they split open, they also twist and curl, which sends the ripe seeds in all directions. Before I had many seeds, I used to wait for the pods to mature as much as possible before plucking them from the vine; on one occasion, the pod split and I had to go hunting in the surrounding area for the seeds. The farthest seed was over 3 metres away! And mind you, I didn’t manage to find all the seeds that had been sent flying – I counted the number of depressions in the pod and the number of seeds that I’d found, and they did not tally… That, of course, gave us another couple of wild plants, which were welcome.

Another way I’ve found the plants to be self-seeding is this:

We’re supposed to not let the plants grow too many pods, otherwise they will spend more energy on the pods than on the tuber that we want to eat. So, I do try to cull the pods after the plants finish flowering. There are times, however, when I don’t do this soon enough, and the pods grow to full size before I remove them. I usually discard the green pods in the vicinity to recycle them into the garden. Well, I’ve found that you don’t necessarily have to wait for the pods to turn brown to be able to grow plants from the seeds inside…

While weeding the bangkwang bed, I noticed a few clusters of new sprouts. Fairly sure I hadn’t sown new seeds, and definitely not in such close proximity to each other, I shifted the earth away from the sprouts to discover that each cluster of sprouts was growing from a single, slightly buried seed pod!

One of the pods that I unearthed, with the sprouting beans inside.

They were definitely from green pods because the pods were still straight, unlike pods that have split open and are twisted.

The bottom line is, we now have quite a number of unplanned new plants, so I have to start at least one more new bed. That’s pretty cool in my book!

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