Category Archives: Gardening by Month

How to Grow Yard Long Beans (aka Asparagus Beans) (aka Snake Beans) (aka Noodle Beans)

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How to Grow Yard Long Beans (aka Asparagus Beans) (aka Snake Beans) (aka Noodle Beans)

If you want to grow traditional green beans in North Florida, you get planting times in the spring and fall, but the summer can be a bit tricky for fresh garden produce.

Enter… yard long beans! They are related to the southern peas that do so well in the heat, only they grow longer and stay tender.

If you were not familiar with yard long beans, I could show you my incredibly long green beans, and then sell you whatever brand of fertilizer I wanted.

Speaking of fertilizer…

It was David from www.thesurvivalgardener.com who first got me started with this great crop. He has an entertaining post about these beans as well as an efficient (albeit dubious)method of fertilizing plants.

yard long bean plants

I had a few precious seeds saved from last year, and so I rationed some out into flats to be sure of optimum survival rates. I planted them about 1/2 inch deep, gave them water, and exposed them to the blistering heat of summer.

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They twine like typical pole beans, but did not complain about my netting. I think they would grow 50 feet long if I let them.

I have to admit that they did not get much care from me. My garden is a pretty dismal sight in summer and so it kinda depresses me to go out there too much. I tend to stay inside and make yummy stuff like peach jam and sand pear butter. Gotta work on the summer gardening a bit more.

Okra grows well for me. Maybe I’ll divide the garden among these beans, sweet potatoes (grown mostly for the greens), and okra. Sounds like a good plan.

Anyway…

growing yard long beans

The vines took a while to get flowers, but then the beans started growing.

Pretty neat, huh?

yard long beans

I think I may just skip regular green beans next year and plant these starting in the spring. If I can get these vines to grow from April to October, I may not even have room for ice cubes in my freezer!

Have you ever had yard long beans? Would you grow them?

I have this really neat recipe for Yard Long Bean Knots that I’m going to share. I wanted to do something to showcase them in an interesting way, and I thought it turned out pretty well.

How to Clean the Nasty Gunk out of Hummingbird Feeders

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How long has it been since you cleaned out your hummingbird feeder?

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Does your nasty feeder have hummingbirds looking at it cockeyed with contempt? Time to clean it out!

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Let’s start by twisting off the bottom and cleaning the ports. Remember in elementary school when you saw the classic vinegar+ baking soda= volcano experiment?

Sprinkle some baking soda in the ports and then some vinegar (I used white, but apple cider vinegar would work fine too). Yuck! Look at all the gunk!

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Swish some hot water in there too.

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Use an old toothbrush (NOT your husband’s current one!) to scrub off stubborn gunk.

Now for the inside of the feeder.

how to clean out a hummingbird feeder

Get some uncooked rice. Yes, you read that right, rice. I have also read of people using gravel, but really, just something hard to agitate against the sides will work.

Add the rice and a bit of hot water and shake, shake, shake! This trick works great for the hard to reach spots.

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Ewww! Yuck! So gross.

If some nastiness is still in there, you can try to reach it with that old toothbrush.

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Rinse thoroughly, then fill with some homemade hummingbird nectar.

Now the hummingbirds can drink out of a clean feeder and I’m not grossed out by looking at it!

How long has it been since you last cleaned out your hummingbird feeders? How do you clean yours?

How to Keep Basil from Going to Seed

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Basil is a very hardy herb that loves the heat of North Florida.

what to do when basil starts to flower

Around August, it starts to send out flower stalks. If you have harvested all the basil you need for the year, this is a good time for you to let it complete its life cycle and go to seed.

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However, if you still want more basil, you can extend the productivity of the basil by pruning off the flower heads located where the flower head meets a node. Look for where other basil stalks are trying to emerge.

In the above picture, my thumb is right above a node.

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Snip off the flower head, and leave the two smaller branches to grow. As the plant gets older, the basil become more insisting on bolting and eventually you’ll just have to let it go to seed. Good news: you can save those seeds for next year!

However, this one little trick of pinching back your basil flowers can extend the life of your basil for a few more weeks of delicious fresh pesto!

I just love the smell of fresh basil, don’tย  you?

Is it time for fall decorations yet?

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It’s a cool 87 degrees today- fall must be close! I saw a sign advertising Pumpkin Spice Lattes; that confirms it. The summer garden is a wreck, and it is time to start over with the fall garden.
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My leafy crops that I started a few weeks ago are starting to get their true leaves, and the yard long beans are finally putting out beans, desperately trying to remain intact through the transition.
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I think I’ll let them stay. ๐Ÿ™‚
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I made spiced muffins with some gingery sand pear sauce, and the aroma was very autumnal. That’s a real word, by the way, autumnal.

I have reserved pears for a special recipe: Nana Clement’s Conserve.

Fall decorations, time to emerge from the depths of the shed! It’s time to decorate for fall!

I Have a Laundry Basket of Sand Pears

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Remember the 75 pounds of peaches? Well, now I am happy to be swimming in pears.

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These are sand pears: crunchy, crisp and (hence the name) slightly gritty.

I was glad I didn’t have one fall on my head as I was picking them; those pears are big and pretty heavy too!

I’m not as panicky about getting them processed as I was about the peaches; sand pears ripen much more slowly.

I have found that the grittiness is reduced as they ripen.

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Right now I have a batch of spiced sand pear butter in the Crock-Pot; look for that recipe soon!

Other plans include a gingery pear jam and pear cobbler mix.

Do you have any favorite sand pear recipes? I’d love to hear your ideas. It seems that many have never even heard of these pears.

You can comment below or join me on Facebook!

North Florida gardeners, it’s time to start seeds for the fall garden!

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Even now it’s still so hot outside, it is time to start thinking about the fall garden.

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Here’s some seeds I started this week: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, kohlrabi, and Swiss chard.

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Some of the seeds have already started coming up, 5 days later! Even though it’s still so hot, the seeds germinate quickly in the warm weather, and will be ready for transplant when it finally starts cooling down a bit.

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I also planted a few patty pan squash. I may also plant some zucchini and yellow squash too.

Next month I plan to direct sow my mustard greens, turnips, rutabagas, and even try some carrots again. It seems like I try carrots multiple times a year, and something always seems to destroy them. I also need to get some herbs started this week: dill and cilantro.

I also want to have plenty of fall and winter bedding plants, so I’m going to start snapdragons & pansies from seed. For the cost of a few packets of seed and my time, I hope to have plenty of color through the winter.

I am really anticipating the kale and mustard greens. The kale is so good for you and I love it sauteed with a little bit of butter and garlic as a side dish. The mustard greens are fabulous in stir fries. Oh, and I really want some turnips too. Turnips, although a root vegetable that I don’t see often used, is really good, especially roasted.

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That reminds me, I need to plant some radishes next month too. Maybe for Thanksgiving I can make some Colorful Roasted Turnips, Carrots and Radishes.

Do you live in a climate where you get to have a fall garden? What are you planting?

Morning Jog Bonus: Blueberries and Grapes!

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Who takes baggie on their morning jog? Well, I wouldn’t exactly call my morning excursion a jog. It’s more like a walk / jog / hobble / lumbering  gait down the road. I took a bag with me this morning, because I had noticed some grapes growing by the side of the road a few days ago. Blueberry season is really over in this area, but there are a few hanging on in some bushes by the side of the road on my walk. It was a good excuse to take a break.  ๐Ÿ™‚

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Have you ever found anything edible on a walk?

Hanging Basket Freeloader

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white fanflower

What’s not to like about a flowery home? Apparently, my fanflower hanging baskets make the perfect dwelling.

They have many benefits for this Carolina anole.

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Little anole, you chose a great spot.

Somebody else is taking care of the landscaping- watering, feeding, pruning.

You can just enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.

Your dinner is brought to you, attracted by all the beautiful blooms.

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Living in a hanging basket has its perks, for sure.

Anybody else a bit jealous?

North Florida Gardening: August To-Do List

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It is a jungle out there. I really don’t want to share pictures of what my garden looks like now.

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How about you just look at these pretty peas?

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Or the nice striping on this eggplant?

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I have two teeny tiny jalepeno plants, approximately a foot tall each, and they have been pumping out the peppers. I just got a dozen from them.

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Just keep scrolling past the garden pictures…

The okra is doing great, as is the basil. The orange and yellow cosmos are real winners over here.

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Jungle!! AHH!!

The cover crops that I planted are chugging along, though, even the 75 cent pinto beans.

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Going to let a few ‘Clemson Spineless’ okra pods ripen so I can save some okra seeds for next year.

I planted probably double the amount as last year, and I still wish I had planted more.

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The yard long beans are growing up the fence with amazing vigor. They twine like pole beans, but aren’t complaining about the netting. They show no signs of slowing, and seem as though they would grow 50 feet tall if I had a trellis high enough.

My neighbors probably already think I’m weird enough, better not.

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Picked and shelled some Southern peas. I think I’ll grow more ‘Mississippi Silver’ next year; they seem to be larger and pack the pod pretty tight. More meat for your shelling time.

My to-do list for August:

1. Get seeds started for fall garden. Kale, collards, Swiss chard, cauliflower, kohlrabi,and broccoli will go in flats so they can be planted out in September.

2. Till under cover crops in large garden toward end of month.

3. Pull up green beans from shed bed and replace with zucchini and yellow squash. In August, we can essentially replant a spring garden here in North Florida, and September starts the official fall garden planting for me. If you want an almost complete guide to the vegetables you can grow in Florida, a really good planting calender can be found here.

4. Try not to get stressed out by how terrible the garden looks now. July and August tend to be pretty tough. Maybe next year I’ll just smother the whole thing with grocery store beans the first of July and pretend it doesn’t exist until the middle of August. ๐Ÿ™‚

How’s your garden? For some ofย  you, this is the time to make me jealous!

Oven-Roasted Roma Tomato Sauce

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Swimming in tomatoes? Here’s a great way to use up a glut of tomatoes and have a flavorful addition to many meals.

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Start with a bowl full of fresh tomatoes.

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Wash, slice them in half, and place them on a cookie sheet, skin side down.

Add onions, peppers, and garlic if desired. All three vegetables are versatile and can be used in a tomato base for either Italian or Mexican dishes.

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Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

If you want to remove the skins, now it is easy to remove the larger pieces, but I don’t bother.

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Process in food processor until smooth. If you like a chunky sauce, process in short bursts.

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I put mine in quart freezer bags and froze it.

What an easy addition to Crock-Pot chili or spaghetti sauce!