Putting in a late planting of beans in July

As summer progresses there are fewer warm season crops that you will be able to plant and still have a dependable harvest. A late planting of beans is one crop you can usually plant in mid summer and still get a harvest.

late planting of beans

When putting in a late planting of beans you need to keep a couple of things in mind.

1. The days to maturity of the variety you have choose.
2. The declining amount of sun as you move towards fall.

 

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What varieties to choose for a late planting of beans

In order to be successful with a late planting of beans you really need to have at least 75 days until your first real threat of frost.

This also means you need to choose varieties that have a pretty short maturity date. Green beans will really be your only choice for a late planting of beans. And I would recommend that you choose bush varieties not pole beans.

Bush beans spend a lot less time growing plant material and seem to just get in to the business of growing beans a lot quicker. There are a lot of tasty varieties of bush beans that have maturity dates right around 60 days. I would suggest choosing one if these varieties.  To learn more about growing green beans check out my complete guide to green beans!

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Declining sun light as fall approaches

One thing to keep in mind when putting in a late planting of beans is the declining amount of sunlight as fall approaches. In mid summer we hardly even think about shorter days. But as your late planting of beans progresses day-length will become an issue. Be sure to add at least 10 days to your maturity date before deciding what varieties to plant and when.

Choosing the latest date for planting

As a warm weather vegetable beans are very sensitive to frost. So the planting date you choose for your late planting of beans needs to be based off your average first frost date.

Find the days to maturity for the bean you have chosen on the back of your seed package. In the case of the variety I’m planting this year the days to maturity is 60. Add 10 days to that number to account for the declining sun light 60+10=70.

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So my beans need at least 70 days to mature. My average first frost date is October 1st. So counting back 70 days gives me July 20th. So my absolute drop dead date for planting beans is July 20th. But I want a little time for the plants to develop a good sized harvest so just for good measure i add another 10 days. So my goal is to in my late planting of beans by July 10th. For my area this is really as late as I can go.

So now find your own last frost date and count backwards at least 70 days and you will find when you can put in a late planting of beans.

A late planting of beans is a great way to fill some empty space in your summer garden. Smaller bush bean plants fit well into a mature garden and are a great option for rounding out your summer garden.

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What is my Garden Zone? Using the USDA Hardiness Map

What is my garden zone? Knowing your garden hardiness zone is an important part of planning and planting your garden.

What is My Garden Zone

You may have noticed that I often refer to garden zones in my posts. Knowing the answer to the question, what is my garden zone, is an important first step in gardening.

What is my garden zone

I’m actually quite surprised how many people don’t know their garden zone. I guess as an long time Gardener I’ve kind of forgotten what it’s like to be new to gardening. So I’m writing this post to to help those of you that are just starting out figure out what is my garden zone.

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Knowing your garden zone is particularly helpful for year round gardening.  If you would like to learn more about year round gardening check out this post!

Finding your garden zone

I will take a minute to explain in this post what a garden zone is and how to use them. But for those of you that just want to jump to the USDA website and grab your garden zone here’s the link. http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/Default.aspx

What is a garden zone

Gardening zones are helpful first step in learning what to plant and when to plant in your garden. The garden zone map was established by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). It often referred to as a plant hardiness map and each zone is determined by the Average annual extreme minimum temperature expected in an area. Knowing this extreme low will help you know what plants will survive the winter.

What is my garden zone

(map provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Garden zones are expressed with a number between 1 and 12, with 1 being the coldest and 12 being the warmest. You will notice there is a general trend on the map (see the map here) for the warmer zones to be in the South and for the zones to get colder as you move north. You will also notice the coastal areas are warmer, particularly along the pacific coast.  There are very few areas in the country at the extremes. The bulk of the country sits in zones 3 to 9 or really even zones 4 to 8 for the largest part of the country. There are no zones 11 or 12 in the Continental US.

So what does a garden zone mean?

Knowing your garden zone can tell you a lot about what can be planted in your garden and when. For example if you live in zone 5 your maximum low will be around -15 degrees????? So there will be many plants that you just can’t grow outside in your area. Citrus would be a great example, you really can’t grow an orange tree any where colder than zone 9 or possibly 8.

Knowing your garden zone can also tell me some fairly solid information about what your weather is overall, if you live in zone 8 then I know you live in a generally warm area with very mild winters, very little frost and a long growing season. If you live in zone 3 then I know you have very long, cold and severe winters with early frost and a very short growing season.

Is the zone system perfect?

The answer to that question is a big NO! There are whole group of gardeners that are very critical of the USDA zone system. That has caused the USDA to add sub zones. So you may often hear someone say they are in zone 5b or 7a.

In our case the zone listed on the map for Salt Lake City is 7. But ask anyone in our area what is my garden zone and they will tell you 6. Even our extension agents disagree with the USDA and agree we are in zone 6. But then if you add in local micro climates it even gets trickier. For example we live right at the center of our valley at the lowest point and less than 800 yards from the river. Every winter all the cold air sinks to the low point. We have frost sometimes weeks before our neighbors who live only 5 miles away. I’ve talked to a lot off gardeners who live where we do that feel like they might even be zone 5b.  I’m starting to shy away from that, I think my garden is a solid 6a.

So you can seen there is a lot of subjectivity to the system, and it is far from perfect. But the zone system really can be helpful as a starting point.

How do you find your garden zone.

There are hardiness zone maps all over the Internet.  Many Ag colleges even publish their own.

What is my garden zone 1

The above image comes directly from the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. As you can see it’s pretty vague and hard to read. But it does give you the general idea, you can see the trend of warmer to colder as you move northward and inland.

But the best way I have found find out “what is my garden zone” is to use the USDA Website. Follow this link. On the top left hand side there is a spot for you to add your zip code. This will get you a good idea of your zone.

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Next start talking to your gardening friends and neighbors and see what they think. You may get the input, like us, that even though the map says one zone, your area may behave like a zone that is warmer or colder than the map describes. Also keep in mind that many gardeners think their gardening lives are harder than they really are, so take what they say with a grain of salt.

Finding the answer to the question, what is my garden zone is super important. If you gather as much info as you can about your garden and the zone/climate you live in you will have a much better idea of what to plant and when to plant it. And your garden zone is a good first step.

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Harvesting Garlic from your backyard garden

The timing for harvesting garlic can be a little tricky.  This post will help you understand when you should be harvesting garlic from your backyard garden.

Harvesting Garlic

Garlic is a relative new comer to our garden.  We have been gardening for over 20 years, but 2017 represents only our 7th year of growing garlic.  One of the most frustrating things for me when we first started was when to harvest.  It’s hard to find a good description of when you should be harvesting garlic.  So hopefully this will help you!

When should you be harvesting garlic

First off, for most of us that live in the north, mid July is when you will really start thinking about harvesting garlic.  If you live further south your harvest time may be earlier.  You know harvest time is approaching when you start to see the tips of the leaves starting to brown.  I will usually wait for the first 2 or 3 leaves on the bottom of the plant to brown and wither.  When this starts to happen, give your plants one more good watering and then stop watering for anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks before harvesting garlic.

Turning the water off on your plants does a couple of things.  First it forces the bulbs to pull energy down from the leaves.  Second it allows the soil to dry out.  Mature garlic doesn’t like to sit in wet soil.  This will effect the storage length of your garlic and can also promote rot.  Let those last 2 or 3 weeks the bulbs are in the soil be a time for them to start the drying process.

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Your garlic is ready to harvest when about half the leaves have dried up completely.  That’s the trick!  If you plant has 12 leaves, then when 6 are dried and wither it’s time to harvest.  It really that simple!

Harvesting Garlic

Harvesting garlic is simple but you need to be gentle with the bulbs.  Using a shovel or even better a digging fork, gently lift and loosen the soil around the bulbs.  Then very gently pull the bulbs from the pre-loosened soil.  All the time during harvest be careful not to tug on, bruise or damage the bulbs as this will shorten your storage life significantly.

For some extra help on harvesting garlic check out this YouTube video I did last year:
When to Harvest Garlic

Curing Your Garlic

Curing is the next step.  Hang your garlic in small bunches or lay them out on a screen in a cool, airy, dark garden shed or garage.  Be sure the spot you choose has lots of air circulation and the garlic is out of direct sun.

Harvesting Garlic 3

Curing takes around 2 to 3 weeks.  Curing is complete when the outside layers are dry and papery and the cut stem is dry about 2 inches above the bulb.

I also did a video on curing garlic last year so you can learn more here:

How to Cure and Store Garlic

Carefully clean any remaining dirt from the bulbs.  Trim the roots to about 1/2 inch.  Soft neck varieties can be braided as an attractive way to store them or you can cut the stems off to about 2 inches and store them loose in a mesh bag.  A cool dark spot with temps between 50 and 60 degrees is ideal!

Harvesting Garlic 4

Hard neck varieties can store for up to 6 months.  Soft neck varieties can store for up to a year under the right conditions.

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Seedlings you should start in June for a fall harvest

I know in June it’s hard to even imagine cool fall temperatures. But there are seedlings you should start in June for a fall harvest. This post in meant for those of you living in Zones 4 to 6.

seedlings you should start in June

This post contains affiliate links, clicking on them with not cost you any thing extra, but does allow Stoney Acres to make a small commission on your purchase through the Amazon Affiliate Program!

Temperatures are approaching 100 degrees in our zone 5/6 garden. We still have the 6 hottest weeks of summer to look forward too. But despite all this heat there are seedlings you should start in June. These June started seedlings will be ready for transplant in mid August, just in time for the first signs of early fall!  You will be starting this seedlings indoors in your seed starter or at the very least in a sunny window seal.

Let me start this post out by reminding you if you want to learn more about seed starting or year round gardening I have video courses on both topics. Follow those links and you will get up to a 50% discount.

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What seedlings you should start in June

There are many cool season crops that can be planted in both the spring and fall. I’ve even found a few cool season crops that do even better in the fall than spring. One thing to keep in mind with fall planting is declining amounts of sun light. If the crop you are planting says it will mature in 75 days from transplant add at least 10 days to that number when planting in the fall to compensate for less light when the plants hit maturity.  You should target having your fall seedlings ready to transplant out into the garden roughly 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost.  This will give these plants plenty of time to develop and will also have them maturing once the hot summer temperatures are gone.

Here’s your list of seedlings you should be planting in June for fall harvest:
Broccoli

Fall grown broccoli will do really well. Be sure to choose varieties with the shortest maturity dates. Target varieties that mature in around 75 days.

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Cabbage

Both traditional and Napa type cabbages do well in the fall. Again look for varieties with short maturity dates of around 75 days. Don’t bother with the larger head types this time of year, they just won’t have time to mature.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi needs time to size up in the fall, so getting starts going in June will have them ready for harvest shortly after your first frost. A little frost will improve the flavor of kohlrabi!

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Kale

Because it is more of a leafy green, kale will do fine if planted directly in the garden in the fall. But if you would like big healthy leaves early in the fall then get some seedlings planted now in June.

Brussels sprouts

Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts make a great addition to a fall garden. Maturity dates are very long, so get seedlings started in June. These June planted seedlings won’t be ready until as late as November, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner!!

Chinese greens/cabbages

You will be able to plant many of these Chinese greens again by seed in the fall. But for an early harvest try starting some seedlings in June. They will be ready in early September.

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Lettuces

If you decide to plant lettuce seedlings in June choose summer crisp varieties. These heat tolerant lettuces can be planted out in the garden in August for harvest in September. Look for varieties like Nevada, Muir, Concept or Cherokee. Plan on continuing to plant lettuce seedlings every 3 weeks from June until September for a continuous harvest until December!!

seedlings you should start in June 4

You will notice that nearly all the plants on this list of seedlings you should start in June are Cole family crops. All these cool weather loving crops need extra time to mature in the fall. They should be planted outside around 6 to 8 weeks before your first frost. Remember that the closer to 10 hour days, (in November) the slower your crops will grow. So you need to get the seedlings planted now, in June, so your plants have plenty of time to mature in the fall.

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Harvesting and Using Garlic Scapes

Using garlic scapes gives you an early second harvest from your garlic plants. Garlic scapes are a tasty addition to your early summer menu.

Garlic Scapes

This post contains affiliate links, clicking on them with not cost you any thing extra, but does allow Stoney Acres to make a small commission on your purchase through the Amazon Affiliate Program!

What are garlic scapes?

Lets start out our discussion on using garlic scapes by talking about what they are. Garlic scapes are the flower stalks of your garlic plants. Usually they will look like curly, pig tail like stems. If left on the plant long enough they will stand straight up and flower. It’s not really the best idea to leave the flower stalks on your garlic plants. Flowers draw energy away from the bulb and effect the quality and storage length of your garlic.

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You most often see garlic Scapes on hard neck garlic varieties. You will see an occasional scape on a soft neck plant, but hard neck varieties always grow Scapes. So if you want Scapes then you should choose to plant hard neck varieties.

Harvesting Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes start to appear about 4 to 6 weeks before the time to actually harvest your garlic bulbs. Scapes will first appear as small stems with this little flower bulb on the end. They will grow to be as long as 2 feet long. They almost immediately start to curl as they grow. I usually wait until they have at least one and a half curls in them before I harvest them. Scapes are better quality if harvested before the curl starts to straighten out. Once that flower stalk starts to stand up then the scapes loose some of their appeal.

Garlic Scapes 2

Harvest by simply cutting off the stem where it emerges from the plant. I usually clip them off with a pair of scissors or garden clippers. Be sure to remove them before they start to straighten out and flower. Letting them flower will draw too much energy from the plant and will produce inferior garlic bulbs.

Garlic Scapes 4

Using Garlic Scapes

You use garlic Scapes just like you would green onions. You can use the entire scape and cut it up how ever you like. Garlic Scapes have a very mild garlic flavor and will go great in almost any dish that calls for garlic. You can use them in the place of green onions as well, just realize they will have a garlic flavor not onion.

Younger scapes (harvested shortly after they form) are very tender and can be eaten raw. As the season progresses the scapes will become woody and less tender and the flavor will also be stronger. These scapes will need a little bit of cooking to tender them up!

Garlic Scapes 3

We use garlic scapes jut like we would Garlic and we often add it raw to salads.  Here are few other ideas for using your garlic scapes from a few of my blogging friends:

Lacto-fermented Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scape Infused Olive Oil and 5 Great Ways to Use It

Garlic Scape Pesto / Dip

Lacto Fermented Garlic Scape Recipe

Storing Garlic Scapes

Store harvested Scapes in the fridge. We have had them last as long as 15 days. If you have a lot of Scapes plan on using them up quick or sharing them with family and neighbors.

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Each year I leave one plant with the scape attached.  I know that when the stalk stands tall the the flower head opens that my garlic plants are ready to harvest!

For more information on Growing garlic take a look at these posts and videos:

Planting Garlic in the Fall fb

How to Cure and Store Garlic

When to Harvest Garlic

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DIY Friday – Simple Cucumber Trellis

Building a simple cucumber trellis for your garden will help the production of your cucumber plants.  This plan uses easy to find lumber and will cost you less than $10 to build!

Build a Simple Cucumber Trellis

This post contains affiliate links, clicking on them with not cost you any thing extra, but does allow Stoney Acres to make a small commission on your purchase through the Amazon Affiliate Program!

I love to have some structures in the garden.  Not only are they handy to use but they add interest and character to the look of your garden.  This simple cucumber trellis has been a great addition to our vegetable garden!

Cucumbers are one of those garden plants that really begs for a trellis!  Many plants will grow on a trellis but in my opinion cucumbers need a trellis to reach their full production potential.  A big sprawl of cucumber vines with the fruit growing on the grown will never be as productive as vines growing vertically.

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A simple cucumber trellis need to be sturdy and move-able.  You shouldn’t grow cucumbers in the same spot year after year, to help prevent pest and disease problems you need to put them in a different spot each year.  So a few years back I came up with this simple, cheap trellis.

Here’s all you need to build a simple cucumber trellis:

18 feet of 2 x 2 lumber

4 heavy deck screws 2 1/2 inches long

12 to 20 – 1 1/8 inch eye hooks

Some garden twine (or in my case baling twine)

Simple Cucumber trellis 1

Lumber

The lumber is the cost variable on this project.  If you use redwood or cedar it will last longer but cost a lot more.  Pine or fir will be 1/4 the cost but may not last as many years.  Also you can by 2 x 2’s in pine but if you want to use any other type of lumber you will most likely buy 2 x 4’s and have to rip them on a table saw.

Simple Cucumber trellis 2

We chose to use Douglas Fir 2 x 4’s which we quickly ripped in half on the table saw.  We then cut 3 of the resulting 2 x 2’s to 6 feet in length and cut a 45 degree angle on the bottom of 2 of the boards.  The Douglas Fir should easily last 6 years, more likely 8.

Eye Hooks

Simple Cucumber trellis 3

These eye hooks are simple to use and should outlive the lumber and can be reused if you ever have to rebuild.

Simple Cucumber trellis 4

Drill a small pilot hole and then screw in the hooks by hand.  We chose to put hooks on the sides of the trellis every 10 inches and along the top rail as well.

Out in the Garden

Now head out to the garden with your drill and deck screws.  Drive the two side posts into the ground about 1 foot deep.  We were lucky to have a post driver to do this, but if you don’t have a post driver you can use a heavy mallet or even a hammer.

Simple Cucumber trellis 5

Once the side posts are in, place your top rail on the posts and secure  with a couple of deck screws on each side.

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Now simply string your twine between the hooks in what ever pattern you like.

Simple Cucumber trellis 7

I have found that cucumbers need a little extra support at the bottom so I wrap an extra piece of twine around the posts at about 12 inches.  This gives a spot for the cucumbers to climb through when they are still small.  They don’t really start putting out runners and “grabbing” onto the twine with tendrils until they are about 12 inches tall.  If you give them this first row to go through the plants are supported on both sides at the bottom.

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When the Season is over

When the season is over you can just cut off the twine (that brown garden twine usually only lasts 1 season).  Then back out the screws at the top, pull the side posts out of the ground and bring the whole thing indoors to your garage or garden shed for the winter (this will help the wood last longer).

Simple Cucumber trellis 8

And there you go!  A simple, sturdy trellis for your cucumbers (of course you can use this trellis for just about any climbing veggie or melon).  The trellis keeps the fruit out of the dirt, the leaves and vines have much better air circulation and it’s easier for you to find the fruit and the bee’s to find the flowers.

What other simple garden structures do you use in your garden?

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Hardening off your transplants

An important part of growing your own seedlings is hardening off your transplants. Don’t skip this step or you risk loosing your transplants completely!

Hardening off your transplants

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You have dutifully cared for your new seedlings indoors for 6 weeks and you have a tray full of beautiful plants that look ready to head out to the garden. What now?

There is one more step on the seed starting process that you shouldn’t skip.

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Hardening off your transplants

Hardening off your transplants is the important final step before planting your seedlings in the garden. For the last 6 to 8 weeks your seedlings have been growing in near perfect growing conditions. If you have done your job right your seedlings have been receiving plenty of water, light and nutrition. They have also been growing indoors with very moderate temperatures and no wind. All of this leads to very healthy starts but they are also a little pampered and tender.

The process of hardening off your transplants, slowly prepares your new plants for the harsher conditions out in the garden. Skip this step and you risk causing a shock to your plants from which they may never really recover. Hardening off your seedlings is accomplished by slowly exposing your seedlings to the conditions out in the garden.

When to start hardening off your transplants

Start hardening off your transplants at least a week to ten days before you intend to plant them in the garden. For the first 2 or 3 days bring your seedlings out side for only a few hours, at the most 4 hours. If you are hardening off your seedlings in the cool spring then these first few days could be directly in the garden. If you are hardening off your seedlings in the hot summer or fall you may want to make those first few days under a shady tree so the plants can first get use to the heat with protection.

As the days go on continue hardening off your seedlings by increasing The amount of time they spend outside each day by a couple of hours per day. If you are hardening off your seedlings in the early spring be sure that some of the time spent outside also includes time at night so your plants can adjust to the cold night time temperatures as well.

How long should you harden your transplants

I usually shoot for at least a week to ten days of hardening off time. Be sure to include hardening time in you overall calculations of time for your seedlings. You want most seedlings to only spend about 6 to 8 weeks in pots, any more time than that risks your seedlings becoming root bound in the pots. That 6 to 8 weeks must include the hardening off time so start setting your plants out at the 5 to 7 week mark.

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While you are hardening off your seedlings you need to continue watering and fertilizing as you normally would. In fact be extra sensitive to the water needs of your seedlings while they are hardening. Those small pots don’t hold a lot of moisture and can dry out quickly on a hot or windy day. So be sure you check the condition of your plants often while they are outside. Once your seedlings have been hardened off get them out of those restrictive pots and into the garden!

Remember hardening off your transplants is a process you don’t want to skip. Doing it creates stronger and healthier plants for your garden. In fact I recommend hardening off store bought seedlings for at least a week as well!

 

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