Vegetable Gardening 101: More Roots- (the non-starchy ones)

When I think root vegetables I think cool fall days turning to cold winters and warm stew. Beets, Carrots, Radishes, Parsnips, Rutabaga, and Turnips are great keepers and can be the base to some oh so simple and oh so good comfort food.

Red BeetBeets come in a few different varieties; common garden beets, stock beets (Mangels) and sugar beets. All come in many shapes, sizes and colors. I prefer golden beets to the traditional red beets. I plant both, but usually more of the golden; I like the flavor better.
Stock Beets are usually grown as a crop to feed animals. They can grow to an enormous size in a rather short time and keep well. You can easily winter your family goats on stock beets, carrots and winter squash if you don’t have the means to grow and harvest hay. They can be fed to cow and if cooked fed to pigs as well.
Sugar Beets contribute a great deal to commercial refined sugar. (I will spare you my “soapbox sermon” on sugar). If you wanted to make your own sugar from beets the closest you will come (without fancy equipment) is sugar beet syrup.
Golden BeetGood Old Fashioned Garden Beets are great. They are so easy to grow and usually yield excellent too. These can be planted starting in early spring and every few weeks through the summer. As they ripen, the early ones should be eaten, canned, dried or frozen. The last to be harvested in the fall can be kept in a root cellar. Plant them about an inch apart in loose fertile soil. Most beet seed is actually a clump of seed, so no matter how you space them there will be thinning to do. As the grow thin them to about 3 inches apart. The thinnings can be eaten fresh or steamed or any other way you like or fed to the chickens and pigs.
Pick the beets when they are no bigger than 3 inches across, any bigger and they will get rather woody. If it’s late into fall cut the tops and leave the beet in the ground as long as possible; they keep the best there. When they need to be dug, cut the tops and dig the roots. If you plan to keep them in the cellar keep them as close to freezing as possible with out actually freezing them. They also should be kept slightly damp or they can get soft and shrivel. In the cellar they should be kept in small bins or pile rather than large ones. The larger the pile the better a chance of mold and decay.
Otherwise storing options are the same as anything else, canning, pickling, drying, freezing etc.

CarrotThere are so many different types of carrots that should be more popular than the traditional orange ones in the grocery store. Last year I had five different types planted, each a different color. Canning carrots was so much more fun with the different varieties.
Carrots like all roots will take the easiest route to grow. If you have rocky soil and plant a long variety of carrots, you may be disappointed when the all grow crooked and misshaped because they have been avoiding the rocks. In clay or rocky soil you would have better luck with a short breed carrot. A garden with loose even sandy soil can produce some of the nicest long carrots.
Carrots can be planted in early spring, even before the last frost. Seeds should be about a 1/4 inch deep and a couple inches apart. Carrot seeds are very tiny, most people will scatter the seed in the bed or in a row. Allow them to get about 2-3 inches tall and then begin to thin them until each has enough room.
Knowing when the carrots are ready for harvest is as simple as pulling one. They can stand a light frost so don’t worry about leaving them too long. Unlike beets they won’t get woody if the grow longer.
To store carrots in a root cellar, cut the greens off and layer them between damp sawdust or sand making sure the carrots don’t touch each other. If you are not storing them in the cellar they can be stored the same as beets.

ParsnipParsnips are a very underrated vegetable. Planting them requires well worked soil and deeply worked too; up to a 1 1/2 feet deep! If you have sandy soil they will do best there. Plant them as you would carrots and thin to about 4 inches apart. I gave up on my parsnips the first year. I thought I had old seed because parsnip seed doesn’t tend to last more than a year. I later found out it can take 3 weeks or more for them to germinate. I ended up with parsnips growing through my green beans.
Aside from parsnips needing to be dug rather than pulled the rest can go just the same a carrots

.

RadishRadishes come in a surprising number of varieties. Did you know that wasabi is actually a type of radish that is dried and powdered before it’s used? There are the podded variety that grow a seeded pod up to nine inches long, that is eaten like edible pea pods. These are called Rat Tail Radishes. There are black radishes that are a winter variety and usually cooked like turnips. Sakurajima is another variety that is cooked like turnips, but need to be planted 2 feet apart because this can grow to be 50 pounds! Daikon is another large variety. Not 50 pounds large but 2-4 inches across and 6-20 inches long and has a peppery flavor. The White or Winter Radish is very close to the Red Radishes that are best known here. The Winter and Red are very similar in flavor but the white gets bigger in size.

You may notice I haven’t mentioned Horseradish yet. It’s actually not in the Radish family, rather a part of the Mustard family.

I am most familiar with the red and winter varieties. Maturity can be as early as 20 days, which is great for me who gets very impatient for my first garden harvest of the season. They can also take as long as 60 days. I like to plant a few different times. The first, right away, as soon as possible in the spring and just a few for fresh eating. The second, I try to time with my salad greens, and sometimes a third late in the fall. Plant them about 3 inches apart in  loose soil. To deter root eating insects, add some wood ash to the area. Keeping the radishes well watered will allow them to grow quickly and will result in a more mild flavor. Less water will result in slower growing, hotter flavored and woody textured roots.
To save radish seeds allow a plant or two to grow beyond maturity (don’t save the early bolters). The plant will send up a tall stalk, which will flower and grow a seed pod. Allow the whole plant to dry up before removing the seeds pod.
We usually store winter radishes and eat the reds right out of the garden. To store them we use the same method as carrots. They can be froze, canned (same as you would carrots) or dehydrated.

RutabagaRutabagas also known as “Swedish Turnip” are a cross between and turnip and cabbage. They do very well in cold climates and not too well in hot climates. Planting in the very early spring or late fall in a cold frame or low tunnel will produce a great crop. Warm summer days will cause the plant to  grow great tops and small woody roots. Planting should be done about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and 8 inches apart. In loose soil.
They can be harvested any time you feel they are big enough. The large roots are great for livestock. If you are able to leave them in the ground through a light frost the flavor will improve; freezing will give them a poor flavor.
Store your harvest in the same manner as carrots.

TurnipTurnips are a great crop for cooler climates (a little warmer than rutabaga weather). Plant them 1/4 inch deep and about 6 inches apart. These too like wood ashes. The best harvest size is 3 inches across, larger is ok but better for livestock. These follow the same guidelines as rutabagas for harvesting and storing.

All the vegetables we have talked about in this article, with the exception of radishes, produce seed in the same manner. It takes two seasons. The first season, pick the best plants that you would like seed from. In the fall very carefully dig them up, cut the tops off, leaving about an inch of green. Store them in damp sand or soil in the root cellar for the season. In early spring, carefully replant them in the garden. They will begin to grow again. They will send up tall stalks that will then flower and produce seed. Most all will have the possibility of cross pollinating with each other. To keep your seeds “true” you will need a minimum of a 1/4 mile between varieties.

Previous Article: Potatoes!
Next Article: Vines-Cucumbers, Melons and Squash

Borscht Soup
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Borscht Soup
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Ingredients
  • 2 lb Fresh Beets peeled and diced
  • 2 each Carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 each Celery Stocks diced
  • 2 each Yellow Onions
  • 4 each Tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 lb Stew Beef diced
  • 3 each Garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 each Bay Leaves
  • 2 each Stems Fresh Dill
  • 1 qt Beef Broth
  • 1 cup Beet Kvas optional
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • to taste Salt and Pepper To Taste
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In the soup pot, sear the beef.
  2. Add the butter and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and beets for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the liquids, bay leaf, dill and salt and pepper to taste.
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Mape Glazed Carrots
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This is a great recipe for parsnips as well, or a combination of carrot and parsnips
Mape Glazed Carrots
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This is a great recipe for parsnips as well, or a combination of carrot and parsnips
Ingredients
  • 6 each Carrots peeled and cut into bite size(or 4 large Parsnips)
  • 3 tbsp Real Maple Syrup
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Butter
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Steam the carrots until they are half done.
  2. Place the butter in a sauté pan.
  3. Add the carrots to the pan.
  4. Lightly cook for a couple minutes.
  5. Add the maple syrup, salt and pepper.
  6. Cook for another couple minutes.
Recipe Notes

*Variation- Add 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon and omit the pepper.

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Child’s Play

Melissa and Doug ToysI have a few policies for my little ones that include “no screens (tv, phone, computer etc.), no batteries (electronic toys etc.), no sugar, and no junk food” just to name a few. I know, what a crazy and mean mom. Really it’s not that bad let me explain.

Without “screens” the child is forced to learn to use their imagination, and they are much more active. When they are active they are practicing motor skills, gaining muscle and learning. I know they can learn from educational shows and games. Yes, maybe but that is only one dimensional. Children learn to play, they learn to entertain themselves rather than be entertained; a skill that will be advantageous for the rest of their life. Yes, this makes parenting more work but parenting was never meant to be a passive activity; if it was baby’s would be born mobile and capable of feeding themselves in one way or another. Parenting doesn’t stop there.

Even the “educational” electronic toys can only do so much beyond driving mom crazy with the never ending noise. Ever tried to sneak out of a sleeping child’s room and step on or kick something that begins to sing the ABC’s? Pretty sure I can sing the ABC’s just as good as the toy and can gain more of a bond with the child when doing so. Also these toys may sing about counting and colors but unless you are there showing what these words mean, they will mean nothing still.

Did you know that parents that are more attentive with their children when the are young will have a closer relationship and more trust with the child as they grow? This will go both ways.

Of course the screens and batteries rule comes with some leniency. My husband enjoys winding down at the end of the day watching his sports team of the news, the little Mister isn’t getting sent to his room because the tv is on. But we don’t turn it on during the day.  I usually do my computer work during nap time but it sometimes happens during playtime too. I don’t want him growing up in a hole, not knowing how to use such devices, but he doesn’t need to grow up too fast either. They are children, not little adults. (This goes for a dress code too)

As far as battery operated toys, we don’t buy them. Everyone knows the rule and should we receive one it is added to the mix of toys. So far they haven’t been a popular choice when set out with the option of a non battery toy.

I believe toys should be fun yet educational, whether it’s learning to shapes, colors, sorting, counting, building, or imagining. All of which require the child to be moving, thinking and building motor skills. Once they get a little older this can evolve into problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Example; When my brother was little, he wanted to trap the neighborhood bear. (We were into hunting, lots of fun stories about him!) How was he going to trap this bear? Well, he used one of dad’s hand saws, cut down a few young trees, cut them into pieces and nailed them together in a box shape. Set the box up like you see on the cartoons with the bait underneath and a stick holding up one end. Thinking the bear would come for the bait and knock the stick, getting stuck in  the box (which I’m pretty sure was not big enough for the bear). You see, he was active, devising a plan, carrying it out etc. (It wasn’t until years later we found out the “bear poop” in the trap was horse shit Uncle Greg brought over. He really had my brother and I going that he was getting the bear in but the trap needed work.)

Then there is the less is more concept. You hear how children have short attention spans, well, I buy it and I don’t. If you place a child in a room filled with all sorts of toys spread about, they will get “bored” quickly. Place the same child in a room with half the toys, each organized by type or category, this child will play much longer before getting “bored”. Typically boredom is due to over stimulation rather than nothing to do. The child gets overwhelmed with the possibilities of play and can’t focus. Another cause can be the child has gotten so used to being entertained that when they are not, they don’t know how to entertain themselves.

I wish I had a picture of the little Mister when he first saw his “toy box” at six months. We have a basket in the living room for toys. It’s small, but so is our space. Usually when he is on the floor playing I would set out one or two things that he could crawl to and play with (or chew on). Just out of curiosity one day I stood him up by his toy basket to see if he would pick out the toy he wanted to play with. His eyes got huge! Then he proceeded to pull every toy out and dropped it onto the floor. Once they were all out, he had no interest in playing with any of them.

Ok so I’ve talked all about the toys we like and you went to your local big box store and maybe, just maybe found one toy that looks even half way interesting. Now your thinking where in the world are these so called toys. Well I discovered Melissa and Doug. These are our favorites! You can find a very select few here and there but they have a ton on their website http://www.melissaanddoug.com/classic-childrens-toys. I should get some sort of endorsement something, but I don’t. I do really recommend these though.

There you have my first “soapbox sermon” on toys. Brace yourself there could be more in the future.

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Vegetable Gardening 101: Potatoes!

 

PotatoOk, there are more starchy roots than potatoes and sweet potatoes but how many times have you grown Arrowhead, Cassava, Kudzu, Malanga or Taro. That’s what I thought.

So potatoes, there are the Russets, Reds and Yukon Golds. These are the most popular around here anyway. Heirloom varieties are coming back making them much easier to find and it’s about time! I can’t wait to plant some blue skin/ blue flesh potatoes! This season check out a new (old) variety in addition to the usual.

When preparing you plot for potatoes keep a few things in mind: Potatoes need deeply cultivated soil. This allows the roots and potatoes to more easily develop. They also grow the best in acidic soil. (If you remember from the “Compost” article wood ashes  will give your soil more alkaline properties, so when you add your compost be sure to use the pile that you haven’t been putting ash into.)
Potatoes can be planted in the early spring because they can handle a light frost and can stay in the ground in the fall through a frost as well. A cooler growing season is perfect to get a great harvest.
Potatoes do flower and produce tiny little seeds, however these don’t make for a good planting seed. You will want to start with seed potatoes. Each potato has multiple “eyes”, which are little dents that if left in a cool place will sprout. The eyes tend to be very dense at one end of the potato and spread thinner over the rest. To plant your potatoes, cut a seed potato so that each piece has at least one eye. I would recommend doing this yourself as well as getting your seed locally. If they come pre-cut they are treated with chemical which you don’t want; do you?
There are a couple common ways to sow your potatoes. My dad would dig a hole 3 inches deep after the last frost or 6 inches deep before the last frost, about 18 inches apart (maybe a little more). Us kids would follow behind placing the seed potato in each hole, eyes up. It is very important the eye is up when you plant. Then cover with dirt. In years past I have had very limited garden space so I began by digging a trench, same depth as before and placing my seed about 6 inches apart. Then cover with dirt. You can also plant your potatoes by placing the seed on top of the soil, cover with at least a foot of straw and water well. All ways will show sprouts in 3 to 4 weeks. If you plant in straw you won’t get as great of a yield but they are much easier to dig, because all you need to do is rake away the straw.
Hilling the potato plants is not necessary but will increase your harvest. By this I mean when the plant gets about a foot tall or so take your hoe and pull soil up around the stem/stalk up to the leaves. I usually do this twice during the growing season. Potatoes grow from the root vines under the plant, adding soil up the stem will encourage more root vines to grow. When planting close together in a trench hill the row as a whole. The soil will fall between the plants, then you won’t risk harming neighboring plants if you hoe between.
To harvest potatoes simply dig. This sounds like a pretty easy task, but is really a lot of work too. They are fully grown when to stem and leaves have dried and turned brown. They can be dug and eaten before full maturity, these are known as new potatoes. I use a pitch fork to dig. I stick it in the ground at the bottom of each potato hill and lift. The bigger potatoes will be resting between the tines. A little extra digging may be needed to get any smaller ones left behind. Any small ones I miss our lab mutt, Diesel, finds. He digs each hole behind me and eats what he finds no matter how many times I try to chase him out of the garden. (He really likes “helping” pick green beans too)
Before you store your potatoes for the winter they should be sorted. The very little ones, can be used right away as “new potatoes”. Any ones that I “got” with the pitch fork go to the kitchen right away and are used first, whether we eat them fresh or clean them up for canning or dehydrating. Then the rest are spread out on thee floor of the root cellar, basement or garage and allowed to cure and dry for about 2 weeks before they are put in the potato bins for storage.
If you’ve got a lot going on and just don’t have time to process one more crop, potato bins in a cool basement or root cellar it the best way to keep your potatoes. They can be canned I have with no problem. Just be sure they are very clean. Canning is not recommended by the USDA ( I don’t believe many of their regulations) and it is said they can only be canned in a pressure cooker. So I will leave that up to you. Dehydrating potatoes is very easy too. Slice into 1/8 inch slices or dice them into small pieces, blanch them in salt water and spread thin on your drying trays. I use a dehydrator rather than open air or the oven because I can get more done at one time and I don’t have to worry about somehow stealing them (he has been found with potatoes from the bins and I’m not sure how he does this yet).

Sweet potatoes are grown like potatoes but are actually not related. They love warm weather, opposite of potatoes. They come in a variety of colors from the deep orange that we are most familiar with, to red, white, yellow and brown.
Sweet potatoes do not have eyes, but if you keep them long enough they will sprout, these are called “slips”. You can then grow the slips in a hot bed, buried about 3 inches apart, only covered halfway. They need at least a foot deep of soil if you are doing this indoors. This can also be done in a tray of water. Either way they need a constant temperature of 75-80 degrees.
Once the slips are at least 8 inches longs and have little roots growing from them, they can be carefully plucked from the original root and planted in the garden. If your not able to keep them at least 75 degrees in the garden, transfer them to a hotbed first. These should be planted 3 inches deep and 3 inches apart in a hot bed. When in the garden give about 3 feet between plants.
Once the plants are growing well and have vines at least 3 feet long you can take a cutting from it, about 8 inches long or so and plant the cutting. Plant all but the top couple inches. When doing this again watch the temperature as well and make sure they have plenty of water.
To harvest the sweet potatoes don’t wait for the tops to dry. If the tops get hit with a frost and turn black the potatoes need to be dug immediately because this will affect the taste and it’s not good. The best way to know if the potatoes are of picking size is to dig up a plant and check. Digging these is done in the same manner as potatoes.
Before storing these they need to be set out to cure as well. This is the hard part in the north, they need to cure in a place with a temperature of 80-90 degrees for about 2 weeks. They are usually not ready to be harvested until October… See the problem? If you have an indoor wood stove that will heat the area, this will work, assuming you are ready to start burning wood that early in the season. Once they are cured they can be stored like potatoes. Be careful not to bruise them during the process, this can cause them to mold much quicker and if one molds it can easily spread to others.

Previous Article: Legumes
Next Article: More Roots (the non-starchy ones)

Sweet Potatoes Asian Style
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This is a very simple, yet flavorful and pretty dish.
Sweet Potatoes Asian Style
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This is a very simple, yet flavorful and pretty dish.
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs Sweet Potatoes pealed and diced into bite size pieces
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon or Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Saffron threads soaked in 1 tbsp. warm water for 30 min.
  • 14 oz Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 cup Almonds chopped
  • to taste salt
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Steam the sweet potatoes, until soft but not mush.
  2. In a bowl combine everything but the potatoes and almonds.
  3. Place the potatoes in a baking dish and pour the seasoned milk over them.
  4. Sprinkle the almonds on top and bake at 325 degrees until it is bubbling and the almonds are toasted.
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Potato Bread
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This is such a soft dense bread, it's excellent hot out of the oven with lots of butter or as a pulled pork sandwich.
Potato Bread
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This is such a soft dense bread, it's excellent hot out of the oven with lots of butter or as a pulled pork sandwich.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp Yeast
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/2 cup Warm Milk.
  • 1 cup Water from boiled potatoes
  • 3/4 cup Butter softened
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 each Eggs
  • 1 cup Mashed Potatoes
  • 6 cup Whole Wheat flour
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine the yeast and warm milk.
  2. Allow to set for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the honey, water, butter, eggs and potatoes. Mix briefly.
  4. Add the flour, then salt.
  5. Knead for 15 minutes on a lightly floured board.
  6. Place the dough in a covered bowl over night in the refrigerator.
  7. The next day remove from the fridge, and allow to rest for a few minutes.
  8. Knead for 5 minutes, form into loaves or buns.
  9. Allow to rise to double the size.
  10. Bake at 375 for about 40-50 minutes.
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Butter Crumb Potatoes
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This was a childhood favorite of mine.
Butter Crumb Potatoes
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This was a childhood favorite of mine.
Ingredients
  • Potatoes
  • Butter melted
  • Bread Crumbs
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Using any amount of potatoes:
  2. Peal the potatoes and cut into wedges.
  3. Dip the wedges in melted butter then roll them in bread crumbs.
  4. Place them in a glass baking sheet with a little more butter and bake at 350 until they are soft. Serve warm with sour cream
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Scratch Shaving Cream

Scratch Shaving Cream

The easiest way to make the switch from store bought to made from scratch is one thing at a time. Don’t go through the house and toss everything you plan to make from scratch, by the time your done you could have a mile long “to make” list and not have the time or ingredients. As one thing runs out, don’t buy a new one, rather make it from scratch; it’s not nearly as over whelming.

My husband made the mistake of mentioning he’s almost out of shaving cream. he was a good sport trying my homemade deodorant. It works great for me but not for him. Now he’s up for some homemade shaving cream.

Winter Shaving Cream
This is a very moisturizing cream, great for the dry winter air.
5 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 tbsp. Cocoa Butter
3 tbsp. Honey
2 tbsp. Baking Soda
4 tbsp. Liquid Farmhouse Soap or Castile Soap
Melt the coco butter and carefully add the olive oil and liquid farmhouse soap. Combine the Honey and baking soda mixing well so there are no lumps and add to the oils. Stir to combine well. Once cooled whip for a couple minutes in a stand mixer.

Healing Shaving Cream
This is a great cream for those who’s skin needs healing or are infection prone.
1/4 c Shea Butter
1/4 c Coconut Oil
3 tbsp. Jojoba Oil (or olive oil)
6 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
6 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
(or 12 Drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil)
Carefully melt the Shea butter and coconut oil. Stir well to combine. Add the jojoba oil and essential oil drops and stir to incorporate. Once hardened whip in a stand mixer to a whipped butter consistency.

Fast & Easy Shave Cream
This is a super fast and easy recipe. It works well but I prefer the other two better.
1/3 c Coconut Oil
1/3 c Shea Butter
1/4 c Olive Oil
Carefully melt and combine the oils. Once cooled this can be whipped in a stand mixer for a lighter texture.

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Vegetable Gardening 101: Legumes

This is a HUGE category including Peas, Lentils, Bush Beans, Pole Beans, and Dry Beans. To write about each individual one would be write a sizable book, something I don’t plan to do. But I will give you the basics of the popular.

PeasBush/Pole Peas, Snap Peas and Snow Peas are very easy to grow during you cool season. For me it’s in the spring and sometimes fall. Peas are a great crop for me because I can’t wait to get in the garden and begin planting and they can be planted when the ground is still very cold. I plant them only a few inches apart and about that deep too. If I’m feeling really impatient for a fresh garden picking, I soak the peas just until I see a sprout and then plant them quickly. They are usually ready a week earlier doing this. All my peas prefer to climb. I wish I could say I have this beautiful trellis that they vine on and it’s so lovely. The truth of it is I rig up anything I have handy for them to climb on; I’ve used tall tomato cages (the peas are done by the time the tomatoes need them), random bamboo poles (I bought for who knows what), an old dog kennel (you know the chain link fence kind) and steaks with twine. In the fall you can plant peas to climb the cornstalks if you like. Short of it, peas will be happy to climb on whatever they are able.
Harvesting peas is pretty straight forward, they flower, then a pod begins to grow. If you are growing Snow Peas the pods will be picked when they are still relatively flat, Snap Peas and regular peas both get harvested when the pods are full.
To save seeds just leave the pods on the vine until they dry. Crush the pods and keep the dried peas for new seed.
I prefer freezing my peas to canning them. I like to dry some not just for seed but for use of split pea soup (made with home grown ham hocks 😉 ). This year I think we will end up canning them due to freezer space taken by grass fed chickens. Yay!

BeansSnap Beans are the “common” beans (Phaseolus Beans). These can grow anywhere and come in many colors. I like to grow the purple ones mainly because they look neat but for my main harvest I grow green bush beans. Yellow beans, known as Wax beans are popular for some people too, they tend to have a more mild flavor.
Depending on the variety you pick they will either climb as a pole bean or not, as a bush bean. Plant your beans about 5 inches apart and about an 1 inch deep. Plant after the threat of frost as these don’t tolerate cold well. In fact planting pole beans should be done two weeks after the bush varieties.
Harvesting beans should be done when the beans just reach their mature size, this will vary depending on the variety. If you allow your beans to get too big they will become woody but don’t worry all is not lost. Beans that have overgrown can be left on the vine to dry for seed or picked and pickled.
Beans can be stored canned or froze.  Immature beans can be blanched and dried, I have never tried this; I don’t mind canning them.

Green Shell Beans are beans that are grown until the bean seed has fully formed, then shelled before the bean pod and seed has dried. I get the concept, but for the work it takes even I don’t bother with these.

Dry Bean varieties are numerous from Black, Pinto, Kidney and many more. They are grown the same as other varieties. Harvesting these is held off until they are completely dry. Pick the pods, crush them, allow the crushed pods to blow away (doing this outside) and keep the seed for dry beans and next years seed.

Black Eyed Peas ( I know I should insert some lame joke about the band, but the name is all I know about them), Chickpeas aka Garbanzo Beans, Fava Beans, Lentils and surprisingly Peanuts are all in the same family, the  Non-Phaseolus Beans. A quick run down of these goes like this:

Black Eyed Peas and a few others are known as “Southerns”. They grow well in the south and although usually called “Peas” they are neither peas nor beans but a closer relative to Lentils.
Lentils are more work than they can be worth as a garden crop, so they are usually grown as field crops.
Fava beans are also called Horse Beans; the plants can be harvested and used as hay for horses. They like cool weather and can handle much cooler seasons than the “Common Beans”.
Peanuts or Ground Nuts grow really well in hot climates. They are native to Brazil. They can grow in the north but will take some extra preparation and care.  They can be harvested when the pods are very young. They can then be boiled in salt water and toasted. Or, you can let them reach full maturity, dig the whole plant, let it hang to cure for about two months, when they are ready the nuts will fall from the vine. Then they can be boiled, roasted, or smashed into peanut butter.
Soybeans should be planted about 1 inch deep and 3 inches apart. They like warm weather as most other beans do. They should be harvested before the pods dry even when saving seeds. The pods can get very brittle when dry, so if you leave them in the garden or field until they dry you can have broken pods and lose the seed. Soy beans are made into soy milk, soy sauce, miso, and tofu to name a few.

Recipes

Hummus
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Hummus
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Ingredients
  • 1/4 c Water the Chickpeas were boiled in
  • 1/4 c lemon juice more or less to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Servings:
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