Tag Archives: Florida vegetable gardening

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.

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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?

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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.

Savory Sauteed Mustard Greens

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I think mustard greens are beautiful. I love the looks of their frilly, vibrant green leaves.

I like to eat them too.

David from Florida Survival Gardening recommended them as  his favorite greens. I found some seeds for a great price, and so planted about 25′ of them. Good thing I ended up liking them!

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They do have  a peppery, mustardy taste when raw, but they become sweeter when cooked. They are much more tender then collards and kale, and cook faster than either of them.

However, they still hold up well in cooking.

Here’s what I like to use to prepare them: 1/2 cup homemade chicken or turkey stock(I make mine in the Crock Pot), diced onion, a bunch of greens, and a bit of salt.

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First, saute the onions in the stock until they are translucent.

Add the torn greens a little at a time, wilting each batch down as you go.

I don’t believe in cooking these vibrant greens until they are a dull grayish olive green- yuck.  Just wilt them until soft and cooked through.

Salt to taste, then garnish with bolted pak choi. 🙂

Savory Sauteed Mustard Greens

If you really want some delicious flavor, add some of the vinegar from pickled jalepeno peppers- so good!!!

I could eat a whole bowl of them prepared in this simple way. The flavor is so rich, especially with the homemade stock.

I love to eat nutritious greens in our Florida winter, when fresh tomatoes and buttery squash are a distant memory.

Eating seasonally is so delicious! I save so much money by growing much of my family’s vegetables. Maybe one day I will have a mini orchard and provide much of our fruit too, but for now vegetables are a good start.

Mustard greens are quite easy to grow, even in North Florida’s poor soil. Maybe you’ll try them too?

What I Found at 3 A.M.

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Ever gotten up and just couldn’t sleep?

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It’s February in Florida, which means that I am getting spring fever and thinking about starting seeds.

So when I was up one night and just couldn’t stop thinking about the bulk seeds I was going to buy the next day, I decided to pop over to the University of Florida’s great spreadsheet to be sure I didn’t miss out on anything that I could be growing.

For the first time, I noticed a little note at the bottom about another article on “minor vegetables” and decided to take a look.

What fun! I found so much information on various crops that will survive the terrible soil and hormonal weather patterns of North Florida.

Then I was really too excited to sleep. 😀

By the way, my mug says, “I listed Starbucks as my emergency contact at work.” One of my former students got it for me and it is one of my favorite mugs.

Enjoy the link!

January To-Do List

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Happy New Year! I hope that you had a great holiday season.

It’s time for those glossy seed catalogs to arrive. Let the dreaming begin!

Here’s what my gardens look like now.

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The shed bed has daikon radishes, garlic, mustard greens, spinach, and a volunteer from the collards that I planted last year. A row of turnips planted right after Christmas are sprouting.

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The large garden is coming along nicely; it has loved the recent showers. The second picture is a closer view of the greens. They are doing so well!

I just planted some Danvers half-long carrots, red-cored Chantenay carrots, and radishes in the wide rows pictured.

I love taking a colander out there in the evening and harvesting greens for dinner. So nutritious and yummy!

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Turnips planted in the fall are growing well, and we ate our first harvest of them on Christmas Day.

The weather has been warm lately. That, combined with the showers has helped much of the garden, but the pak choi has started to bolt.

January and February seem to be the coldest months in North Florida, so maybe that will slow them down a bit. I did snip off the flowers, buds, and harvested some leaves to go with supper tonight, maybe that will help too.

My to-do list:

1. Plant sugar snap peas.

2. Sketch out plan for spring garden.

3. Organize seeds.

4. Enjoy lots of greens!!

Are you snowed in or are you gardening? Either way, it’s always a great time to peruse seed catalogs and dream. Look for a Florida raised bed garden update soon, as well as a tip for saving money and eating healthy too!

Happy gardening!

November To-Do List

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Yes, it’s November already. I finally got my collards and kale into the ground.

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It was nice to have seeds still from last year. Germination rates were great.

Poor little root-bound souls. All the waiting was stressing them out. 🙂

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Triple row of daikon radishes doing well. I have an easy daikon recipe that I posted earlier this year that featured this root vegetable.

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So far the shed bed has the triple row of daikons, 2 wide rows of mustard, and a few straggling basil plants.

The large garden has been planted with onions, kale, collards, turnips, lettuce, and has a few summer crops remaining such as peppers, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.

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This is what happens when you neglect a zucchini. Ordinarily, I harvest mine when they are much smaller, but I’m glad I have a good chocolate zucchini bread recipe to use!

Here’s my list:

1. Plant garlic in shed bed.

2. Harvest and cure sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. Replace sweet potatoes with carrots, who should hopefully appreciate the loose soil.

3. Plant out broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, and Swiss chard transplants.

5. Resow Brussels sprouts and spinach.

6. Sow in empty spots: beets, carrots, mustard, and radish.

7. Start putting flowers and more vegetables in flowerbed. It is part of my plan to mix flowers and vegetables for winter color.

8. Make pear butter. I plan to use a method similar to my easy Crock-pot apple butter recipe.

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It’s nice to enjoy local produce, isn’t it?

With just a little work at the beginning, my winter garden should be a “set it and forget it” type of garden. How does your garden grow? Are you clearing it in preparation for the first snowfall? Are you sowing seeds for spring? I’d love to know!

Are Sweet Potato Leaves Edible?

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If you grew sweet potatoes this year, you probably have a massive tangle of vines overtaking your garden. Those sweet potato vines, in addition to being one of the crops that thrive in Florida summers, can be a tasty addition to the dinner table.

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If  you grow greens like kale and collards, you probably know that they are cool weather crops that tend to bolt as temperatures rise. Not to worry, sweet potato greens can take their place!

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I like to snip some leaves and saute with olive oil and garlic, much like I do with kale. It is delicious served as a side dish, much like spinach.

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Try not to harvest ALL your leaves, though, be sure to leave some to produce food to be stored in the sweet potatoes!

I think that I will have to try some in an omelet soon; starting kale seeds for my fall garden is reminding me of how much I miss kale with my eggs!

Have you ever eaten sweet potato leaves? If so, how do you prepare them? If not, would you be brave enough to try them? Let me know what you think!

Sweet potato vines aren’t the only green in my garden, the basil is still growing. Time to preserve some basil!

Northern Gardeners Are Going to be Jealous

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If you are already breaking out the jeans and sweaters and thinking about the condition of your snow shovel, you may not want to read this post. One of the many perks of gardening in Florida(and what can create so much envy) is that we can garden all year long. The fall garden is really just as big as the spring garden.

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I have started seeds for collards, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, Bibb lettuce, and cauliflower. Soon I will be planting seeds of turnips, beets, rutabagas, and carrots.

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At the same time, I have a zucchini that will be ready to harvest in just a few days. Isn’t that crazy?

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My green bean plants are doing well in the mild temperatures and I hope to enjoy fresh green beans soon too.

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This is the crop that I am actually the most eager to harvest- yard long beans, a.k.a. snake beans, a.k.a. asparagus beans. They have finally started to bloom and set pods. I am going to try to restrain myself and not eat the first few pods, as I want to save seed for next year. According to David over at Florida Survival Gardening, they are not only delicious, but they also grow well in the summer garden. His post on snake beans makes you want to skip traditional pole beans in favor of them.

Fall gardening is so fun! There is a lull in the heat and humidity, making it great weather for starting seeds and pulling summer’s weeds.The warm temperatures mean that your seeds will germinate quickly. The bugs will be scarce in the cooler months, so there will be less bother from mosquitoes and chewing caterpillars.

Let’s get growing! If you invest just a little effort now, your garden will reward you with nutritious and delicious vegetables this fall and into the winter.

If your sweet potato vines are overtaking your garden, don’t look at them as a nuisance, look at them as food! Post on that coming soon!

Time to Plant the Fall Garden!

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For us in North Florida, spring is here again! Many of the spring crops can be planted again, and many of the fall crops can be started this month.

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I really want some green beans, so I am planting some of them, and a few zucchini plants. I saved seeds from my prolific ‘National Pickling’ cucumbers, and I hope to make some more homemade pickles.

I am only going to plant a few tomato plants. I have some cuttings rooted in water on my windowsill. I just clipped some cuttings off the plants before I pulled them. For more tips, read this post.

Many leafy vegetables can be started next month. Collards and kale did well for me last year, so I plan to grow them again.

For now, my garden has quite a few plants that will keep producing for a while: peppers, okra, sweet potatoes, and pink-eyed purple-hulled peas.

For a spectacular Florida Vegetable Planting Guide, visit the University of Florida site. If one of your spring crops failed, chances are that you can try again!

Gardening in Florida is awesome!

What are you doing in your garden now? Are you relaxing in the air conditioning or sweating in the summer sun? I confess, most of my gardening is done before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Florida sun can be brutal!

August To-Do List

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August To-Do List

Did you know that in North Florida, fall planting is as busy as spring? In fact, many of the spring crops (beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers) can be planted again!

Here’s how my garden is doing and my plans for this month.

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The summer showers and sweltering heat have finally taken their toll on many of my spring plants. However, the herbs, green beans, and ‘Marketmore’ cucumbers are doing well by the shed.

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I have moved many of my herbs from my pallet potting bench to the shadier garden, as the summer’s heat was drying them out too quickly.

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I ripped up the tomato jungle, but took some cuttings from the ‘Roma’,’Super Sweet 100′, and ‘Brandywine Pink” tomato plants for propagating. I am rooting them in water, as the heat seems to be a bit oppressive now for rooting them outside. I have a post about how to root tomatoes in this post.

The cucumbers are done. They exceeded my expectations, while the tomatoes in general underperformed.

The sweet potatoes are running, the new row of okra has buds, and I have a cantaloupe and watermelon ripening,

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It is a little strange to be preparing in the heat for fall/winter crops when sweater weather is a distant memory, but I will sweat while starting seeds for crops that will likely taste the best after a light frost. The best source that I have found for vegetable planting times in Florida is here.

So what is on my to-do list?

  1. Plant more green beans.
  2. Start broccoli, cauliflower,collards, and cucumbers. More fall crops can be started next month too.
  3. Make pesto. I transplanted the basil cuttings that I rooted, so hopefully I will be able to make some to freeze. It is a vibrant addition to winter spaghetti sauce.
  4. Stuff and roast banana peppers. Anyone have a favorite recipe?

Not too busy, the heat of summer is when I tend to let what I have done in spring do its thing. I haven’t had to do much weeding, even after pulling up the tomato plants. Less weeding is the main reason why I mulch.

Oops, almost forgot. I hope to try my first ground cherry this month too. The plant is from some seeds that I got for free, and I am so excited to try them! One of my big goals for this year was to grow fruit, and I really hope this plant succeeds.

How is your garden? Did you have a crop that exceeded your expectations?

April To-Do List

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Have you ever planted pole beans around a teepee? It is a neat gardening project for kids and a fun way to add structural interest to a garden. That is just one of my projects for this month.

April is a wonderful time to plant vegetables and herbs in Florida. I have completed most of the items from last month’s to-do list, and am working on some new projects in my backyard garden.

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My large garden addition has been planted with tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, 3 types of squash, eggplant, onions, basil, and dill. The beans are starting to grow, can you see the two rows? They don’t look like much now, but a month will make a huge difference.

Just 2 months ago, this was part of our backyard. Now, it is tilled and planted with seeds and baby tomato transplants. I can’t wait to see it in another 2 months! If all goes well, I will be eating fresh green beans! 😀

I can’t wait to see the teepee covered in pole beans! This is a great project for gardening with kids. I planted Rattlesnake beans and purple-podded pole beans. The purple ones are a beautiful royal purple color and are fun to show kids.

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My garden by the shed is very pretty now, as the broccoli, collards, and radishes are flowering. I plan to let these crops be as the flowers are attracting pollinators and I am still harvesting plenty of kale and collards.

My to-do list for the month:

1. Finish planting the square bed. Pole beans around the teepee, cantaloupe and watermelon outside of the teepee, and flowers and herbs around the perimeter. (Mostly done now, started the melons in pots for transplant later. Sunflowers and zinnias at entrance of teepee. Marigolds, basil, Swiss chard, and dill transplants around perimeter.)

I hope it turns out as neat as I am imagining! 🙂

2. Sow marigolds along the garden path. (Done! I love marigolds!)

3.Set up trellis for cucumbers on the fence. (Not done yet, I’m in no rush as they are just starting to grow their true leaves.)

4. Hang baskets of ferns and flowers on front and back porches. (Done, and I love how my porch looks now!)

5. Mulch around bush green beans when they are a bit taller. (Check! Either you mulch or you weed. I mulch 🙂 )

6. Start ground cherry seeds. I only have 10 seeds, and I really want to try some of these this year.

7. Stake the tomatoes and peppers.

That’s what I would like to get done this month. How about you? Are you going to plant anything this spring? Maybe you could try to plant a bean teepee with your children. Gardening with children is a great way to get them outside and interested in their vegetables.