Few vegetables can compete with the dramatic beauty of pole beans growing in the garden--Garland Community Garden September 2016 - Grow a few pole bean plants in your garden and you'll have green beans from June to the first frost.


The past month and a half has been so busy with gardening activities and promoting urban agriculture in Garland that I’ve had no time left over for writing about what I’m doing.   In fact, February is half over and this is my first post for this month

Bean Awareness Is Spreading – Kentucky Wonders

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who mentioned that her husband loves those large flat green beans called “Kentucky Wonders”.  Some folks call them “Italian Green Beans.”  I never knew them by name although after I heard them described, I realized they were the green beans my grannie grew and overcooked to mush when I was a kid growing up out in the wilds of west Texas.

You might find the seeds locally here in the DFW area at Rohdes in Garland, but not likely at a big box store.  Your best source for finding Kentucky Wonder beans is online at an heirloom seed site—and even at that not all heirloom seed companies carry Kentucky Wonders.

This bean was first marketed in 1864 as Texas Pole, then renamed and introduced in 1877 as Kentucky Wonder by James J. H. Gregory & Sons. Vigorous 5-7' plants yield clusters of 7-10" stringless pods. This bean has a great flavor and is an all-time favorite.


Bean Pot for Urban Gardeners

I’ve designed a pot for growing pole beans in a small space.  It is one-half of a 55-gallon used food-grade barrel with wire fencing in its center for a trellis.   If you go down to the Garland Community Garden, you can see an example in our Bean Patch. For aesthetics I covered my 27-gallon pots in some outdoor environmental cloth.

Taking Care of Beans and Other Vegetables- Fertilizing

Beans are not heavy feeders of any nutrients.  A 3-inch layer of compost may be all that's needed. However, if a test shows that the soil is lacking in phosphorus, add 1 pound of bone meal per 100 square feet for a light feeding of the nutrient—about ¼ cup to the 27-gallon pot. 

Many folks make the mistake of pouring on Miracle-Gro on their vegetables.

Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food has a ratio of 24-8-16, which means that it contains 24 percent nitrogen, 8 percent phosphorus and 16 percent potassium.  This is not the fertilizing ratio needed by most vegetables.  In fact, if you feed it to tomatoes, you may end up with more leaves than tomatoes and the same goes for beans. 

Better (and Cheaper) Fertilizers

EPSOM SALTS:  One tablespoon Epsom salts and one gallon of water.  Use this to feed your vegetables once a month.  Epsom salts is made up of magnesium and sulfate—both of which are vital plant nutrients.  Peppers, tomatoes and potatoes especially will appreciate this once a month feeding.

COMPOST - Make it yourself and help reduce food waste and replenish the soil in your yard. ?
1. Save your fruit and vegetable scraps, newspapers, grass clippings and other compostable materials.

2. Add a bit of water from time to time, and turn your pile to speed up the composting process.

3. When everything has broken down into a dark, rich soil, spread it in your garden, and enjoy the results.

(Put a three-inch layer on top of the soil but keep compost about an inch away from the stems of the plants. Water to keep in place.

Watering Beans and Other Vegetables 

Two Simple Rules:

1.  Find out what the watering requirements are for the plant. Water according to the directions.

2.  Check the plant(s) daily. (By sticking your finger into the soil.)

Check the appearance of the plants, the condition of the soil on the surface and the condition four to five inches down. Plants will often look wilted on a hot afternoon - that's okay. If the plants look wilted in the morning, they need watering.

Beans need about one inch of water a week.  One square yard requires 4.7 or roughly 5 gal­lons of water to be cov­ered 1 inch deep.

Avoid frequent, light watering. Water beans deeply but gently to a depth of four to six inches. Thorough soaking encourages the roots to seek water deep in the soil. With a deep root system, the plants can survive hot, dry weather a lot better.



Our plant sale is coming up in about six weeks.  It will be held at the Garland Community Garden, of course.  You will be able to find heirloom plants at this sale that will be difficult to find elsewhere.  For example, Charlie has a lot of heirloom tomato seedlings that include Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa; Tomato Woodle Orange; Tomato Black Beauty; Tomato Napa Rose Blush; and Chadwick Cherry.  I have 13 blackberry plants potted and growing—all from my prolific blackberry bushes in my front yard.  In addition I have pots of Safflower Dark Orange Red—an annual herb with petals that make an excellent saffron substitute--so excellent that it is often referred to as "poor man's saffron".  Saffron is a spice so pricey that it is sold by the gram as an ounce of it can cost several hundred dollars. Pigeon Peas—a beautiful and edible plant will also be offered.   We hope to have lots of Swiss Chard and Kale for sale too.

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