Beans are a great source for protein.

Their DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.


How does this translate to real life?

One cup of cooked beans (227 calories provides 15 grams of protein)

Thus four cups of beans provides most men with their minimum daily requirement for protein and three cups of beans provides most women with their daily requirements for protein. 

Yes, meat is a more efficient source of protein if you consider that only one cup of beef yields 62 grams of protein.  However, that one cup of beef does not provide all the health benefits yielded from one cup of beans and even more importantly, that one cup of beef takes a toll on the environment.  

The world’s cattle consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth.  Cows must consume 16 pounds of vegetation in order to convert them into 1 pound of flesh. Raising animals for food consumes more than half of all water used in the U.S.  It doesn’t make a lot of moral sense for cattle to be fed while people go hungry and our natural resources are depleted at an alarming rate. (Worldwatch Institute)

And according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute, a staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.


Wait a minute! How can a person eat beans the livelong day? I learned with a little creativity from the cook that beans offer a great variety for the palate. I came across a cookbook that mysteriously appeared in my living room.   Truly, I have no idea where this book came from but so many people come and go in my home, the possibilities for its source are almost endless—that and in addition to the fact that I lead a magical life with countless unexplained mysteries and gifts—there is just no telling where that cookbook came from.

 It is titled “From the Queen’s Kitchen—a Collection of Pinto Bean Recipes and more from Cortez, Colorado.  It has 145 pages of recipes featuring pinto beans.  For example to name a few:  Coconut Bean Pie; Ice Cream Sauce (made from pinto beans); Vegetarian Bean Squares; Bean Cheese Swirl; Southwestern Cheese Cake; and about 400 more bean recipes.   Perhaps beans have more possibilities that I thought.


It’s a scientific fact: Nutritionally, Beans are a better choice than meat.

In addition to being a good source for protein, beans are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates. They have a low glycemic index which makes them an ideal food for managing insulin resistance, diabetes and hyperlipidemia.  

Most types of beans are good sources of potassium, a mineral that promotes healthy blood pressure levels.  Beans are excellent sources of minerals that we don’t get enough of: copper, iron, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium.  Dry beans also contain the water-soluble vitamins thiamin and folic acid as well as riboflavin and Vitamin B6.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as pinto beans, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.

When there is enough magnesium in the body, veins and arteries relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is associated with heart attack. The effectiveness of potassium-rich foods such as beans in lowering blood pressure has been demonstrated by a number of studies.

Beans Quadruple Weight Loss

Yes, pulses (dried beans) can greatly enhance weight loss. Scientists at Purdue University and Bastyr University asked volunteers to consume 30 percent fewer calories than usual, randomly assigning dieters to one of three eating plans.

The first plan included 3 cups of beans and lentils, or pulses, per week, the second included nearly 2 cups of pulses a day for women and 3 for men, and the third included minimal amounts of pulses. After six weeks, all three groups lost weight, but the dieters who consumed the most pulses shed the most pounds. The thrice-weekly bean/lentil eaters lost 7.5 pounds, those on the pulse-loaded diet lost 8.5 pounds, and those with the minimal pulse intake lost just 2 pounds. 

Pulses Attack Belly Fat

British Journal of Nutrition, tracked overweight women with high cholesterol who, twice a day for 28 days, received muffins containing either whole pea flour (equivalent to ½ cup of pulses), fractionated pea flour (hulls only), or white wheat flour. At the end of the study, the women who ate the muffins with the whole pea protein powder had the lowest waist-to-hip ratios, indicating that fat was directed away from the waistline. Previous animal research compared rats fed and unhealthy diet with or without added chickpeas to rodents that ate healthy fare. The chickpea-eating rats had significantly reduced belly fat and had blood sugar and insulin levels similar to the animals fed healthy food. 



Green beans in Garland Community Garden – May 27, 2016—In honor of the International Year of Pulses


So how does this all bean talk relate to Local Garland and my Local Yokel Life as a Loving Garland Green member and one of the stewards of the Garland Community Garden?

I can trace the winding roots of my seemingly serendipitous bean path back to late April of 2016 when I read somewhere that the United Nations had declared 2016 as the “International Year of Pulses”.  The objectives of that declaration included raising awareness about the important role of pulses in sustainable food production and healthy diets. Also included in the UN objectives was the desire to encourage connections throughout the food chain to further global production of pulses and address challenges in the trade of pulses.

To support these efforts I made three tripods of cane poles and planted pole beans in the Garland Community Garden.  (They grew very well and produced beans from June to November.)

In August of 2016 I was thinking about and planning what we would present at our annual Garland Health Expo that was being held at the Curtis Culwell Center. I decided that beans would be a good topic.  I made a pot with a cane tripod trellis and planted green pole beans in it.  We used it along with “magic” green bean packets of seed that we gave away to the public.  These seeds were from beans that we had grown at the garden.

After the Health Expo we donated the bean pot and trellis to Watson, one of our magnet schools here in Garland, Texas.


I am fairly certain that beans will take a place on my edibles shelf of honor with blackberries and kale—three other fabulous sources of nutrition that meet my basic requirements when it comes to choosing plants for my garden:  1) Must be able to fend for themselves with little care and 2) must provide great nutrition.  Blackberries, kale, sweet potatoes and beans all grow well in our DFW area and once established, except for harvesting involve minimal care and attention.

Bean Mania, especially pole bean mania is spreading in Garland.  In the first part of April we installed eight 27-gallon pots of beans with trellises at the Garland Good Samaritans headquarters.  Then on April 13, we installed four cane poles in one of their existing flowerbeds and planted pole beans there too.  We wanted to demonstrate that you don’t have to dig up half your yard (although you can) to have some homegrown vegetables.  They don’t mind sharing the bed with a few petunias.

Urban farming can be undertaken at all levels in Garland, Texas—from taking over a vacant lot (with City permission on City land) to planting Kale and a few beans in your flower bed.

Down at the garden I’ve created a bean patch with about 8 different varieties of pole beans already growing.  In addition the North Garland High School Environmental club have a 27-gallon trellised pot that is growing beans.  We also installed two bean tripod trellises in our Children’s Garden.


It’s nearing time to empty out the compost from the large teepee in front of the garden.  I’ll be undertaking that next week.  The compost will be used to expand our pollinator garden.  It will be interesting to see its state of decomposition as I layered a lot of manure into the leaves and watered it regularly from November until April.

Even if it is not sufficiently decomposed to be called “soil”, it will still be the base for the extension of “Pollinator Heaven”.  We will put mature compost on top of that and then a little garden soil to top it off.

The cloth will be removed from the teepee and the frame will become a giant bean trellis.  By July it should look like a giant evergreen.  I’m looking forward to seeing it.



Signs like these will soon be springing up all over the City of Garland, Texas.

Native Milkweed is named "Perennial Plant of the Year"

Every year since 1990 the Perennial Plant Association has designated a “Perennial Plant of the Year.”  Selection often launches the chosen plant to the mainstream and makes it more widely available.  Usually this organization favors non-native ornamentals.  However, this year they broke with their tradition and selected a native milkweed—Asclepias tuberosa.


Along with many other cities in the DFW area, Garland, Texas is also getting on the Milkweed Bandwagon.  The entire city–all 57 square miles of Garland--is on a transformational path to becoming one giant Monarch habitat.  At the heart of this transformation are those in our community leadership such as Mayor Athas, a strong supporter of urban agriculture, who care and are taking steps to educate our residents regarding our important relationship to pollinators.

The Monarch butterfly, because of its majesty and beauty, is the flagship species for all pollinators.  However, all pollinators, especially our native bees, are important to our survival, as pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of food that we put into our mouths.

Thanks to funding recently awarded to the City of Garland, milkweed seeds will be purchased and given to Garland residents to establish pollinator habitats in their yards.   Those who establish habitats will be given signs to place in their yard to advertise and advocate for the Monarch and all pollinators who are critical to maintaining the security of our food supply.




Close-up of Monarch caterpillar in Milkweed patch at the Garland Community Garden – April 26, 2017

Growing milkweed requires patience, but has its rewards.

Perhaps once it gets established, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) takes off like the weed it is.  I don’t know.  But I do know that it seems to take two years for native milkweed to establish in our area after the seed has been planted.  Perhaps our winters are too mild to effectively cold-stratify the seeds. 

This year, especially in one bed, we have lots of milkweed plants sprung up from seed planted in 2015.  This week I am carefully thinning and transplanting them.  According to most experts these plants should be planted about 3 feet apart.  Smaller plants are more likely to survive as transplants due to the long taproot that is typical of the milkweed.

Yesterday when Jane and I were down at the garden, I inspected our small immature stand of milkweed and to my surprise discovered a Monarch Caterpillar as shown in the previous photo.  After the children left we discovered a female Monarch depositing her eggs on a milkweed growing in our Medicine Wheel.  This Monarch was definitely one from Mexico as she was faded and somewhat worn looking. 


Female Monarch depositing eggs on milkweed – Garland Community – April 27, 2017


Monarchs and Students Galore in the Garland Community Garden Today

This afternoon (April 27, 2017) we had 69 first grade students from Beaver MST, a Garland magnet school visit the garden from noon to 1:45. It was a busy fun time for all of us—students, teachers, parents and Loving Garland Green members.  The event began with Jane Stroud, President Loving Garland Green, telling the students about our Monarch Citizen Science projects and teaching them how to distinguish a Monarch from its other two lookalikes:  the Queen butterfly and the Viceroy butterfly.

Activities in the Garden Today  


 Parents and Teachers held project posters the students while the students explained their projects to a panel of parents and members of Loving Garland Green – Garland Community Garden April 27, 2017

  • Student Presentations
    The students had recently conducted experiments with food and they presented reports of the results to members of Loving Garland Green and to the parents.  The kids were great.  They had made posters illustrating the results of their experiments.  I was able to see three of the presentations.  One was re-growing celery, another was re-growing lettuce, and the third one involved rooting a potato.  Altogether there were six different presentations going on simultaneously in different places in the garden.

  • Planting Sweet Potato Slips
    Jane Stroud taught the children all about growing sweet potatoes in a container.  The children planted about 30 potato slips in four containers.

  • Decorating One Large Recycled Pot
    Each one of the students signed a large recycled pot that that been retrieved from a local nursery’s throwaway pile by a Loving Garland Green member.  They used chalk markers.  After the children left, we sprayed the pot with a clear acrylic sealer.  The pot will be given to the North Garland High School Environmental Club for planting their sweet potatoes in.

  • Loofah Tunnel Madness and Seed Sharing
    Charlie led the Loofah activities for the day.  All the children we able to walk through his new addition to the tunnel (a smaller version just for kids).  Since it is too early for loofahs we had loofah sponges tied to the tunnel trellis along with photographs of loofahs when they are in their gourd form.  Charlie took some loofah sponges and shook them to show the children the seeds inside.  And what do you think?  They each wanted a seed to take home and plant and so it happened.  There were enough seeds to go around.  In addition to those seeds, Ms. Jane had brought a seed packet of Kentucky Wonder Beans for each of the students as well.

  • Monarch Release Finale
    Jane brought five Monarch butterflies that she had rescued as caterpillars a few weeks ago in her yard.  The towel on top of the condos was loose and two of the Monarchs escaped during the activities.  However as we were getting the condo (mesh laundry basket) to bring up for the presentation, we spied two monarchs mating on the grass in between our garden hose.  The male was definitely a faded tattered specimen who had overwintered in Mexico but the female looked fresh and we suspect was one that had escaped from the condo.  Charlie, our resident Monarch Whisperer got both butterflies and put them in the condo. 

    The students learned how to sign the word butterfly.  We took a few photos of them and then released the Monarch butterflies in the garden.  I can only hope that someone got a great shot of their spellbound faces.  Most of them had their mouths open as the Monarchs winged their way skyward.



Students from Beaver MST Watch as Monarchs are released in the Garland Community Garden—April 27, 2017

The rewards for the day were many, but Jane summed it all up with her lovely smile of appreciation as she told me that one of the students came up to her and hugged her and thanked her.  The children were wonderful and like all Garland ISD students, polite and attentive.  It is such a pleasure to share our Garland Community Garden with them.


Some of the Monarchs in the Garland Community Garden today were really huge!  This particular subspecies is called Robertus.


Mayor Doug Athas is second from the right. 

I’m proud to report that my City won first prize for the Earth X Pitch Grant for $5,500.  Mayor Athas made the pitch for our city, telling an impressive panel of judges why he thought Garland should be awarded the first prize.

It was no easy win because our “little” town of Garland was competing against Dallas, home to the Discovery Gardens, and a mayor who like our Mayor Athas is extremely supportive of our statewide campaign to bring back the Monarch Butterfly, the flagship species for all pollinators.

Congratulations, Mayor Athas!  One more time you have helped to put Garland on the map as a lovable and caring community by telling our story in a way that all can understand.  Thank you for representing us so well.

Your support of the Garland Community Garden has helped to grow it from a 28 square foot plot on April 24, 2014 to approximately 3,000 square feed of planted space today—exactly three years later.  Members of Loving Garland Green hope that, through the plants we grow in the garden and the various public events we participate in, that we will be able to accomplish our mission—to increase the number of Garland residents who grow some of the food they eat.


Lots of Monarch and Pollinator Support at the Garland Community Garden

Today [April 24] is the third year anniversary of the installation of the first garden plot at the Garland Community Garden.  I was so busy today getting ready for a tour of seventy First graders from Beaver MST scheduled for Thursday that this significant marker almost passed me by.  It just occurred to me as I was writing this article.

Happy Birthday Garland Community Garden!

On Saturday I saw my first Monarch down at the garden.  I was about to give up on them as I’m down there almost every day and until yesterday I had not seen a single one.  Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green, has 7 Monarch pupas in her care that she rescued from her garden.  One of them eclosed on Sunday morning and Jane set her free in the afternoon. Another eclosed yesterday on Monday and three more of the pupas have turned dark indicating their eclosure time is near.


At Jane’s home:  In the first two frames we see a caterpillar to a beautiful green jewel-like pupa. About a week later, the pupa appears black but it is actually translucent as we are seeing the scrunched butterfly in the pupa.  In the last stage of its lifecycle the Monarch butterfly emerges (ecloses). The one in the photograph is a female as she does not have a large black dot on each of her hind wings.


Monarch Citizen Science Projects at the Garland Community Garden

With all this recent activity of Monarchs in the garden and nearby area, I decided that even if we only have a few days left in our first phase of our first Monarch Citizen Science Project that I would still go ahead and post a sign down in our Pollinator Plot at the Garden.


Our sign features three butterfly look-alikes: The Monarch (which is the largest); the Queen Butterfly who has white dots outside the black wing border; and the Viceroy whose shape and color are similar to the Monarch but the Viceroy’s silhouette is droopy.

In this first phase we are asking residents who see a Monarch between now and April 30 to call 972-571-4497 and report where and when they saw the Monarch.  The Monarchs seen in North Texas between March and April 30th will be the ones headed north from their overwintering spot in the Mexican highlands.  We will report these sightings to, a nonprofit organization devoted to studying the migration patterns of the Monarch.

In the second phase of this Citizen Science project down at the Garland Community Garden we will purchase butterfly nets, condos and tags (stickers).  The first week in August (when Monarchs begin to drift back into Texas on their winter migration) we will hold a class on netting and tagging Monarchs.  Then, from August 1 until September 25, we will tag and release Monarchs and report this information to Monarch Watch Org. 

We also have a second Citizen Science Project to support the Monarchs.  For the entire months of September and October we will rescue and release Monarch caterpillars found in the Garland Community Garden.  This information will be reported to the public.


Monarch-related scientific research is also being undertaken in Garland Texas—at one of our local magnet schools, Watson MST

The short version of this research being undertaken by scientific professionals from Midwestern is that they are growing multiple species of milkweed in the gardens at Watson MST and measuring differences in monarch butterfly caterpillar growth rate, digestive efficiency, and metabolism associated with differences in the host plant.  

Students and teachers will be involved in data collection and developing some curriculum to support and reinforce these lessons.  Based upon our research carried at Midwestern State University, the researchers already know of differences among species of milkweed in respect to energy and moisture content.  Therefore, they expect differences in growth and performance of monarch butterflies.  They are hoping to pinpoint which species of milkweed are the best for the monarch caterpillars so that we may perform more targeted conservation efforts. 

The Garland Community Garden may be able to assist in these efforts as we have a second year stand of common milkweed.  In Garland, our focus on the Monarch is community-wide and involves our students, our residents, our Parks and Recreation Department, our Garland ISD and all its wonderful educators, and many of our nonprofit organizations such as Loving Garland Green, Keep Garland Beautiful, and the Bud and Blossom Club. 

The Monarch and all pollinators as well as urban agriculture are admirably supported in our community by its leaders and residents.


Artwork created under supervision of Bernardino de Sahagún between 1540 and 1585.

Corn has been an important food source, critical to human survival for thousands of years.

Corn rules when it comes to a crop that produces calories. Each person on this planet needs about one million calories a year in order to survive.  Of course we need vitamins, minerals, protein and fats.  However, without the necessary minimum caloric intake we are toast—regardless how nutritious the food we eat might be.

I’m fairly well convinced that without corn, and without indigenous people’s efforts in the Americas to improve it, the human race might have starved to death long before the 21st century.  Scientists have traced the origin of corn back to a Mexican grass, teosinte.  Historical evidence shows that people saved seeds from more desirable plants over the years to make corn more edible and help it to evolve into what looks like corn today.

Down at the garden I’ve planted three different types of corn in tribute to this important crop—all non-GMO of course:  Golden Bantam Improved—introduced by W. Atlee Burpee in 1902; Oaxacan Green Dent—grown for centuries by the Zapotec Indians southern Mexico where it is used to make green flour tamales; and Black Aztec corn—a delicious heirloom corn said to have been grown by the Aztecs 2,000 years ago.  James Gregory introduced Black Aztec corn to the seed trade in the 1860’s.  This corn makes excellent blue cornmeal. 

If you visit the garden daily over the next two weeks, you can see the corn growing.  Yesterday I was down there and it was only about 3 inches tall.  Today a friend called and told me it was six inches high.


Today's Unethical Uses of Corn Crops

The primary goal of any agricultural system should be to feed people.  American corn is not used primarily to feed people.  Instead it is used primarily for ethanol, animal feed and high fructose corn syrup.  It consumes natural resources and receives preferential treatment from the politicians in Washington because its primary purpose is not to feed people but to make money for a few. 

As Jonathan Foley points out in a Scientific American Article titled “It’s time to Rethink America’s Corn System: “. . .The USA corn system uses a large amount of natural resources. Even though it does not deliver as much food as comparable systems around the globe, the American corn system continues to use a large proportion of our country’s natural resources.

In the USA corn uses more land than any other crop, spanning an area roughly the size of California.

U.S. corn also uses a large amount of our freshwater resources, including an estimated 5.6 cubic miles per year of irrigation water withdrawn from America’s rivers and aquifers. Fertilizer use for corn includes over 5.6 million tons of nitrogen each year through chemical fertilizers and nearly a million tons of nitrogen from manure. Much of this fertilizer, along with large amounts of soil, washes into the nation’s lakes, rivers and coastal oceans, polluting waters and damaging ecosystems along the way. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the largest, and most iconic, example of this. . .”

We can do better—much better.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development estimates CO2 and climate benefits from replacing petroleum fuels with biofuels like ethanol are zero (IISD). They claim it would be almost 100 times more effective, and much less costly, to significantly reduce vehicle emissions through more stringent standards, and to increase CAFE standards on all cars and light trucks to over 40 miles per gallon as was done in Japan just a few years ago.

Once upon a time not so long ago in 2000, 90% of the U.S. corn crop went to feed people and livestock.  Less than 5% was used to produce ethanol. By 2013, however, priorities had shifted:  40% went to produce ethanol, 45% was used to feed livestock, and only 15% was used for food and beverage (AgMRC).

The USA uses over 130 billions of gasoline a year.  One bushel of corn can produce slightly less than three gallons of ethanol. If all present production of corn in the U.S. were converted into ethanol, it would only displace 25% of the 130 billion gallons of gas we use annually. Corn is not the answer to replacing fossil fuels.

Mandatory vehicle requirements for fuel efficiencies of 40 mpg would eliminate the need to starve people to death in order to produce fuel for our vehicles.

The U.S. used almost 5 billion bushels of corn in 2014 to produce over 13 billion gallons of ethanol fuel. The grain required to fill a 25-gallon gas tank with ethanol can feed one person for a year.  Thus, the corn used to make 13 billion gallons of ethanol was not used to feed the almost 500 million people it was feeding in 2000. This is the entire population of the Western Hemisphere outside of the United States.  We can do better.

Corn is big business in the USA.  

It receives more subsidies from the US government than any other crop—about $90 billion between 1995 and 2010—not including ethanol subsidies which helped drive up the cost of corn.  Our government subsidizes large agricultural corporations to the tune of billions of dollars every years—and not for producing food.


Of course, with all this attention to corn we have much scientific activity directed to how we can make more, bigger, better plants—not necessarily for the benefit of feeding people but so that wealthy investors can make even more money.  Also a great deal of attention is paid to ensure that fewer people can have control over the genetics of corn seed through genetic manipulation and experimentation.

And that’s why it’s important for folks like you and I who live in urban areas to make sure that we plant heirloom seeds and save them and pass them on to our friends to plant the next year.  Once the genetic code for a seed is lost—that code is gone forever. 


With Earth Day just around the corner, it's interesting to consider that Thomas Jefferson had a better understanding of the importance of maintaining biodiversity than many of our leaders today: 

"For if one link in nature's chain might be lost, another might be lost, until the whole of things will vanish by piecemeal." 
Thomas Jefferson


Heirloom seeds from organically grown plants are always the best choice. 

There is always a tradeoff in the creation of a hybrid or genetically modified seed.  In order to “improve” a plant in one way, the subtraction or minimization of an original characteristic must be undertaken.  For example, to create hybrid flowers, the fragrance is often sacrificed; for herbs, their potency; for vegetables, their flavor.

One in five of the world’s plant species is threatened with extinction, according to the first global assessment of flora, putting supplies of food and medicines at risk. But this same report also found that 2,000 new species of plants are discovered every year, raising hopes of new sources of food that are resilient to disease and climate change. [Source:  The State of the World’s Plants report, by experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew,]

We can only hope that nature can stay ahead of human greed.



Male Monarch Butterfly in Hand - Garland, Texas - October 2015

Loving Garland Green, Keep Garland Beautiful, the Bud and Blossom Garden Club, and many of our Garland ISD schools have been busy the past two years ensuring that Monarchs are included in our City’s moniker:  “Texas Made Here”.  Yes, Garland is one of the largest manufacturing cities in the state of Texas with more than 300 manufacturers within our city limits.  Also it should be noted that many Monarch butterflies are also made here with a little assistance from our residents. 


Happy 2016 – The Last Monarch, a female, Born in Garland Texas in the year 2016—December 31, 2016—Happy was rescued as a caterpillar by members of Loving Garland Green on December 5, 2016.  Read her story here. 

December 5, 2015 was a memorable month for Loving Garland Green.  We were busy with a monthly garden clean up when one of our members, Cheryl Andres, spotted a large Monarch caterpillar chewing on a dried milkweed leaf.  I took it home and put it in a condo (mesh laundry basket from Wal-Mart) and stuck a milkweed plant in with it.  The Caterpillar ate and ate, made a chrysalis and then eclosed into a butterfly on December 31, 2015.  Charlie and I drove the female to Raymondville, Texas to release her.  On our way we stopped in Austin to show her off to Grace Barnett and the folks at the Texas Wildlife Department.  We nicknamed that Monarch, Happy 2016.  

Monarchs are extremely fond of Charlie, one of the founding members of Loving Garland Green.  He is the best person for releasing them—even though they are often reluctant to leave his hands.  They always want to stay on Charlie longer than on any of our other members—so much so that I’ve nicknamed him as “The Monarch Whisperer.”



Garland Texas Monarch Whisperer - Charles Bevilacqua– Garland Community Garden October 2016

We tag Monarchs in Garland!

In the fall of 2016 we added another activity to our list of looking out for Monarchs in Garland, Texas—tagging them.  To assist a group from the University of Kansas (Monarch in tracking the migration patterns of Monarchs, we started tagging Monarchs on their way back to their Mexican winter home in the fall of 2016.  We tagged and released 30 Monarchs that we had rescued as caterpillars and assisted in their transition to butterflies.


Loving Garland Green is increasing our Monarch Making Activities in 2017 with the addition of Citizen Science Monarch Projects.

We now have two Citizen Science Projects underway for promoting Monarch butterflies:  The first is ongoing now during the time when Monarchs are on their way north through Texas from their Mexican wintering grounds.  Loving Garland Green members and Garland residents are reporting any sightings of Monarchs from March 1 to April 30 to Loving Garland Green President, Jane Stroud.  Jane is keeping reports of these sightings on a spreadsheet that she will send to Monarch at the end of April.  The second citizen science Monarch project will begin in August and will continue until the end of September.  During this time we will hold classes in the garden on butterfly netting, tagging and releasing.  The tagged butterflies will be recorded on a spreadsheet that is then sent to Monarch




Jane Stroud, President Loving Garland Green

Garland Texas Monarch Momma

Garland not only has a Monarch Whisperer, we also have a Monarch Momma, Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green.  Until 2017 we have only had interactions with Monarchs in the fall as they return to their wintering grounds.

All that changed a few days ago in early April when Jane went out into her garden and discovered 12 Monarch caterpillars.  Some of them were so large they were only about 24 hours from moving on to the chrysalis stage.

Jane noted that she was impressed that the mother Monarch(s) who planted the eggs were careful to deposit only a few on the 2-3 inch tall milkweed in her garden.  Still that was not enough to feed 12 hungry caterpillars so Jane rushed off to a local nursery where she purchased three tropical milkweed plants for the caterpillars to munch on. 

Jane’s rescue is indeed timely if her garden has as many lizards as I have seen in my garden and down at the Garland Community Garden lately.

Here are two photographs Jane sent me yesterday from the 12 Hungry Caterpillars.  As you can see, one of them has already advanced to become a lovely green pupa—the last stage in its lifecycle before spreading its wings as a Monarch butterfly.


The Future Looks Bright for More Monarchs Made in Garland Texas.

What new urban developments for the Monarch will transpire to make our community even more ecologically friendly—not only to the Monarch butterflies, but to all pollinators—such as our native bees?  I’m pushing for a unique downtown urban container pollinator garden that includes edibles such as pole beans along with the traditional native plants such as Turk’s Cap, Salvia and native milkweed that are often featured in butterfly gardens.  Pole beans bloom from early June until the first frost and all pollinators love their pole bean blossoms. 


Pole Bean Planting—the ultimate urban space saver for pole beans and other vines such as squash and cucumber.

April 13 was one of those kinds of days when I feel like I lived a lifetime in one day.  Yesterday, like any lifetime, can be divided into segments: Pole Bean Planting at the Garland Good Samaritans; gardening at the Garland Community Garden; and writing the story:  Monarchs Made in Garland.    I’ll tell the Monarch story in another article.


Pole Bean Planting Part Two at the Garland Good Samaritans

On April 13 at Garland Good Samaritans center we put in 8 cane poles and about 40 Kentucky Wonder Green Pole beans to grow around the poles.  We also had the opportunity to inspect the eight 27-gallon pots that we planted with beans and calendula (an edible flower).  I’m happy to report that in the six days since we planted the beans and transplanted Calendulas that all the beans have germinated and all the Calendulas are surviving.

Two Calendulas are near the center of the pot.  Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean plants appear close to the poles – Garland Good Samaritans – April 13, 2017

The eight pots are part of a Citizen Science project that we are undertaking with the staff and clients of the Garland Good Samaritans.  When the beans begin producing we will track the poundage and weekly market value of the beans harvested from mid June until the first week in November.  In December we will publish a report for the community regarding the results of this Citizen Science project designed with the goal to inspire more people in our community to grow some of the food they eat.

The canes that we inserted into the ground and the beans we planted around them represent an even simpler approach to the urban garden than the container garden.  You don’t have to invest in a pot and 27 gallons of garden soil.  All you need to do is cut down eight river canes (plentiful in our North Texas area).  The canes should be about 8 feet tall.   Next, find a sunny spot in your yard and dig four to eight 18 inches deep holes.  Put the canes in the holes and pack the soil back in.  Pour a little garden soil around the poles (.75 cu. foot sack should be sufficient for all 8 poles).  Ideally bean seed should be soaked overnight.  Plant about four beans around each pole.  In 65 days you can begin eating green beans.  As long as you water them now and then and harvest them on a regular basis, you will have beans from about the second week in June until our first frost.  Pole beans are among the most drought tolerant vegetables.  Like okra in our area, they thrive on neglect and poor soil.  After all our hard work we were rewarded with a lunch prepared under the shade trees by Mike, one of the great volunteers at Garland Good Samaritans.



LIVING OUTSIDE THE BOX:  Three Garland Good Samaritan Volunteers – April 13, 2017

Gardening at the Garland Community Garden Yesterday and Sharing Space with the Rolly Pollies and other undesirables

Our garden is growing more beautiful and interesting by the day and more and more residents are discovering it and stopping by to tell us how much they enjoy driving by and seeing it there.  Yesterday I installed another trellis and bean pot in the Bean Patch down at the garden along with a couple of tripod trellises and beans in the Children’s Garden. 

The Golden Bantam, Black Aztec and Oaxacan Green Dent corn that I planted a few days ago in nearby beds isn’t up yet, but it takes about 14 days for that seed to germinate.  I am a little concerned about the seed as the area I planted them in had so many pill bugs.  I did scrape up most of them, however and carried them off to the riparian area that is in between the garden and the creek.

Rolly Pollies, correctly referred to as Pill bugs (Armadillidium vulgare) and sow bugs (Porcellio scabar), feed mostly on decaying matter.  They are important to the decomposition process of organic matter.  However when they are in great number they can feed on the tender roots and lower leaves of newly transplanted vegetables.  I do not recommend dry leaves as mulch in the vegetable garden because leaves are a great habitat for these pests.  If you must use leaves then don’t pile them up against the stems of your young vegetables.  Keep the mulch four or five inches away.

I wondered why there were so many so I “googled” the topic of Rolly Pollies and learned that while they mate all year long, March and April are the peak months for their mating.  If you really can’t stand them and don’t have a good area like we do to carry them off to, Diatomaceous Earth is an efficient solution.  It is also the best organic solution for fire ants.

Speaking of fire ants:  No I don’t like them and if you could see my ankles right now you would understand why.  However, begrudging as I may be on this topic, I do recognize the positive reasons for their existence:  Their nest-building activities reduce soil compaction of our heavy clay soil (so I guess we can expect the presence of fire ants forEVEer.  Also, a major source of their diet consists of other arthropods (insects, ticks and mites). 


Community health and strength through residents and leaders who care:  Ana Maria DeYoung, leader of  Flamingo Neighbors,  and Jane Stroud, president of Loving Garland Green, met in the Garland Community Garden to plan the placement of a  "Little Free Library."

Yesterday it was worth it to drag myself out of bed and down to the Garland Community Garden to meet with Jane and Ana Maria because a three-year dream of mine was coming one step closer to fruition:  the installation of a Little Free Library down at the garden.  There are a couple of these libraries in Garland, one of them has been in existence for at least four years.  That Little Free Library is located at 1720 Hilltop Dr  Garland, Texas 75042.  Ever since I came upon it by accident one day I have been wanting one for my front yard and for the garden.

Ana Maria, through her contact with our Garland Neighborhood Vitality group, was able to secure an old Dallas Morning News metal newsstand.  It is being repurposed into a Little Free Library that will feature logos of both the Flamingo Neighbors and Loving Garland Green--two groups very active in improving the health and security of our community.

If you haven't heard of Little Free Libraries before, they are a great thing for increasing neighborliness and sharing.  Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.  Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

The libraries work like this:  If you have a book that you've read and enjoyed, put it inside a Little Free Library and share with others.  You can come and take a book--don't worry that you don't have a book to leave because after you read the one you've checked out, you'll have one to leave when taking another one the next time.


We will be applying for a license to register our Little Free Library.  Visit their website to learn more about their organization.




Margie Rodgers LGG board officer, Jane Stroud LGG President and Liz Berry LGG President Emeritus pose in front of a Garland Good Samaritan Bean pot.

Another Citizen Scientist Project in Garland is launched

Today Loving Garland Green launched its third Citizen Scientist project within a month.  This project, however, will not be carried out at the Garland Community Garden.  It will take place at the Garland Good Samaritans.

Working with another local nonprofit, the Garland Good Samaritans, we installed eight twenty-seven- gallon pots with trellises designed for growing green beans in the front yard of the Garland Good Samaritans’ house here in Garland, Texas.   Loving Garland Green members fashioned the pots by cutting 55-gallon drums in half and designed the trellis using 7 foot tall cane and wire fencing.

As these beans mature and are harvested, each picking will be weighed and recorded.  Additionally, a weekly dollar value will be assigned to the total poundage harvested for that week. This dollar value will be based on the average per pound price for green beans for that week in our community.  Pole beans are an excellent choice for a nutritious vegetable to grow in our area as they start producing in early June and continue to produce until our first frost.   That’s five full months of green beans.  The USDA reports the US yearly average per pound cost for green beans is $2.14 a pound.  We anticipate that just one of our pots will produce about 75 pounds over the course of 5 months.

Four different types of pole bean seeds were planted in the pots today:  Italian Flat Beans from the organic heirloom seed company, Seeds of Change; Kentucky Wonder Beans from the Seed Savers Exchange; Haricot Tarbais Beans and Petite Carre De Caen Beans—both of these French bean types were purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company.




Also you’ll be meeting some of the Good Samaritan volunteers and staff and finding out straight from them about some of the values inherent in volunteerism.

Thursday Morning April 13

10 to Noon

at the Good Samaritans of Garland

214 N 12th St, Garland, TX 75040

RSVP Now as space will be limited:


 (972) 276-2263


Pole beans are the easiest vegetable in the world to grow.  All you need is a 7-foot pole and a few pole bean seeds.  We cut river cane for free for our poles.

Also as part of the class we will be installing four poles in the ground and planting beans.  Some folks may balk and say:  “I don’t have a shovel.  I can’t plant a bean pole.”  That’s OK.  While there’s no argument that shovels are better,  you can still make do by using the resources available to you.  To prove my point, on Thursday I will be using a spoon from my kitchen to dig one of the holes for the cane pole.  It’s true that it will likely take me as long to dig my one hole as it takes the others to dig three holes using Margie and Gene’s great hole digger.  However, I will nonetheless prove my point regarding resources by digging a great and sufficient hole with my spoon.

 Those who attend will be given a FREE 7-foot cane pole along with some pole beans.  We will also hold a drawing for one of the 27-gallon pots with a trellis.


Pots waiting for the beans to grow at the Garland Good Samaritans

We will explain, show you the steps, and leave you with written details of how you can build a bean pot and trellis like the ones at the Good Samaritans of Garland.


Note:  You can help Loving Garland Green continue to promote urban gardening in our community by selecting the link below and voting once a day from now until April 19.  Please vote for us today and every day until April 19.

Please Vote for our garden to help us receive a Seeds of Change® grant!


1891 Vilmorin Andrieux et Cie - Old French Seed Catalogue

After leaving the cradle of my nativity in west Texas at the ripe old age of 17, and with the added veneer of education and world travel, I acquired a certain amount of sophistication that led me to not only shun, but also to mock overcooked green beans.  Like me, most of you trueborn Texans grew up with elders who cooked green beans to a gray-green softness that hardly needed a chew before it passed down your gullet.

This morning momma, I have come the full circle and wherever you are I apologize for all the times as an adult that I chided you for your overcooked beans.  As it turns out, you saved me from many a tummy ache when I was growing up under your roof.

This morning I was preparing for a class on growing pole beans that Loving Garland Green members will be presenting to the public at the Garland Good Samaritans on Thursday April 13 at 10AM. In my research on the scientific name Phaseolus vulgaris, which is the scientific name for the common bean, I learned that one scientific name covers all common beans—from navy beans to pinto beans and bush and pole beans alike.  That was somewhat of a shock to me as I thought we could rely on the scientific name to always identify the specific plant or animal being referenced.  I guess it’s not so specific after all.  If you’ve ever taken half a second to observe food as you eat it, you know that a navy bean and a pinto bean are not even the same color much less taste.

Most bean varieties have a toxic compound that is rendered harmless by cooking.

However, most earth-shattering news in my world this morning about beans came from Wiki:  “The toxic compound phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin   is present in many common bean varieties. “

To safely cook the beans, the U.S Food and Drug recommends boiling for 30 minutes to ensure they reach a sufficient temperature for long enough to completely destroy the toxin.For dry beans, the FDA also recommends an initial soak of at least 5 hours in water, which should then be discarded.  However, it is important to note that canned beans (even kidney beans which have the highest content of phytohaemagglutinin are safe to eat from the can.  [Thus my mother is not entirely off the hook as she boiled even the canned varieties for half an hour to an hour.]

The primary symptoms of phytohaemagglutinin poisoning are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Onset is from one to three hours after consumption of improperly prepared beans, and symptoms typically resolve within a few hours.

Beans may not be associated with increased risk of gout.

Beans are high in purines, which are metabolized to uric acid.  Uric acid is not a toxin as such, but may promote the development or exacerbation of gout.  So people with gout have been advised in the past to limit their consumption of beans. However, more recent research has questioned this association, finding that moderate intake of purine-rich foods is not associated with increased risk of gout.


Beans are Critical to Human Survival

One thing is certain, beans are critical to human survival.  Without them even more people on our planet would starve to death.  The United Nations declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.   

Pulses are beans and peas that are harvested dry. Examples are lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, kidney beans, and more.

  1. Pulses provide a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe, ensuring food security.
  2. As part of a healthy diet high in fiber, pulses fight obesity.
  3. Pulses also prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions, and cancer.
  4. Pulses are an important source of plant-based protein for livestock.
  5. Pulses pull nitrogen from the air into the soil, increasing soil fertility.
  6. Pulses use less water than most other protein crops, making them a sustainable agricultural choice.

To help raise awareness of the importance of pulses, Loving Garland Green gave away free bean seeds at our Garland Go Green Health Expo booth last September. We also had a pot with green beans growing in it for demonstration.  After the event we donated the bean pot to the students at Watson, a local magnet school.


Members of Loving Garland Green will be supporting three different Monarch Citizen Scientist projects at the Garland Community Garden and throughout Garland, Texas during our peak Monarch observation periods.  This information will be compiled and sent to Monarch Watch—a nonprofit organization affiliated with the University of Kansas.

1. March 10 to April 30, 2017 (52 days)

This is the time in our North Texas area when we are most likely to see Monarchs returning from their winter grounds in Mexico.

During this time we ask people in Garland, Texas who observe a Monarch butterfly to please report it to

  • Report the location address/zip code
  • Report the time and date
  • Report number of Monarchs seen

We are also asking members and citizens to please be on alert when down at the Garland Community Garden to note whether they sight a Monarch Butterfly on that date and during that time period.  These also should be reported to the above email address. 

Note:  On April 27 we have planned a tour of the Garland Community Garden with 70 students from Beaver, a local magnet school here in Garland, Texas.  As part of our planned activities we will conduct a Monarch Watch Search with the students.

The National Wildlife Federation offers the illustration above to assist in identifying a Monarch butterfly as there are two other look-a-likes.  We recommend that citizen scientists study these three butterflies closely prior to going out into the field.  We want to do all we can to ensure that we are identifying Monarch butterflies.  For more on being a Butterfly Hero


2.  From August 1 to September 25, 2017 (56 days)

This is the time period when the Monarch butterflies are coming through our area on their way back to Mexico for the winter.  We will be doing the same things we did at step 1.


3.  From August 25 to October 31, 2017 (67 days)
Tagging and Releasing Monarchs and Rescuing Monarch Caterpillars

We will hold classes in the Garland Community Garden during the first two weeks of August to train citizens to capture and tag butterflies with nets.  Information on these tagged butterflies will be recorded and sent to Monarch Watch.  We will also hold classes teaching citizens how to care for rescued caterpillars and then tag and release them.  Information on these insects will also be shared with Monarch Watch.

If you would like more information on how your organization can support Monarch Watch in these areas involving Citizen Scientists,  we recommend that you go to the Butterfly Hero site sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation

and also the  Monarch Watch site at