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Friday, May 12, 2017

Growing Green Beans and Tomatoes

     In this neck of the woods the time to plants gardens is drawing nigh. My favorite garden vegetables are green beans and tomatoes. 

Green Beans - There are a variety of green beans, but I always grow snap beans. These beans require full sun and grow about 7 inches long. 
     Seeds should be planted 8 to 12 inches apart in well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. The soil must be consistently moist throughout the growing season. 
     Established beans can get by on half-an-inch of water per week which is about half of what tomatoes require. Beans are not frost-tolerant and even a light frost can damage plants. If frost is threatened, the plants need to be covered. In the case of flowering plants, temperatures below 55 degrees F. or above 90 degrees F. cause flowers to drop off. 
     Soil that’s too rich in nitrogen can cause plants to produce leaves but no blooms. Also watch out for slugs, cutworms, Mexican bean beetles, Japanese beetles, and flea beetles. In my backyard rabbits are frequent visitors to the bean patch. The worst part about picking beans is that occasionally one finds an Eastern garter snake lurking among the plants.
Eastern Garter Snake
     Garter snakes are close relatives of water snakes and are slender and may attain a length of 3 feet or more, but are usually 18 to 26 inches long. Rumor has it that you CAN eat a garter snakes, so theoretically they COULD be prepared with the beans.   If anyone is interested, this article tells you how to cook a snake.

Tomatoes - Choosing tomato varieties can be confusing because there are so many, but my preference is for Beefsteak and Cherry tomatoes. You can use seeds, but I have had the best luck buying potted plants at the local greenhouse. 
     Tomatoes require warmth and should be planted in late spring and early summer. They need a prime, sunny spot with at least 6 to 8 hours of sun to bring out their best flavors. You will need stakes, a trellis or cage to keep them off the ground. Depending on the variety they should be spaced 2-3 feet apart, or if growing in containers, you’ll need an 18-24 inch pot. 
    Tomatoes suck up nutrients and grow best in soil with pH ranges from 6.2 to 6.8. The best fertilizer I have found is Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed. 
     To grow a really strong plant, burying two-thirds of the stem when planting is usually recommended. Cover the ground with 2 to 4 inches of mulch to minimize weeds and help keep the soil evenly moist. Straw and shredded leaves will work. 
     They also need a lot of water and a soaker hose is ideal, but lacking that, make sure they get plenty of water. After planting water regularly; the “book” says at least an inch of moisture per week. If the top inch of the soil is dry, it’s time to water.  

Sauteed Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes   
Southern Style Green Bean and Potato Recipe

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