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Weekend Gardening: Grow Your Own Produce

So many benefits to vegetable gardening. Try growing your own beans and drying them!

By Julie Mathiasen

June is a fabulous month in the garden.

It's a great time for growing, harvesting, and eating your own fruits, berries or veggies.

In the warm sun that's typcial of June, zucchini is a handsome plant and grows well on the Coastside. It grows so well, that you might find a bag of it on your porch step from your neighbor.

Try interspersing veggies amongst your landscape plants like Swiss chard or broccoli planted next to your favorite perennial flowers. A few onions or leeks planted around the garden will come in handy and take very little space. Tuck in green beans (bush type) around the borders of your garden. 

Purple bush beans will add some beautiful contrast in the garden.

Beans are dependable and easy to grow. Here's how:

1) Prepare the planting bed by loosening the soil.

2) Add well aged compost and mix with the soil.

3) Plant the beans 4-5 inches apart. They don't have to be in rows!

4) Harvest green beans when they are young and tender, and use two hands when picking to keep from breaking the brittle plants. Most beans will produce a second or third flush of beans after the first one is picked. By harvesting your beans twice a week, it will keep your bean plants producing for a longer period of time.

5) Make a bean teepee and grow pole beans on it. Your kids can climb inside of the bean teepee and read under an arbor of beans and flowers. Since these bush beans or pole beans are annuals, you can plant another set of beans two to three weeks after your first crop to extend the season.

Dry soup type beans grow like the bush beans or pole beans, but the immature pods stay tender for only a few days as the plants hurry to produce mature seeds. Bean seeds are very easy to dry.

Allow dry beans to stay on the plants until the pods turn tan and the beans inside show good color. If damp weather sets in just when your beans should be drying, pull up the plants and hang them in a dry place until they are dry enough to shell and sort. Allow the beans to dry for about two weeks before placing them in air tight containers for storage.

You can also save beans for planting for next year. Select the biggest and best seeds for planting. Make sure they are dried thoroughly and store them in a small paper sack until next year. Storing seeds in plastic will sometimes cause them to mold.

Beans benefit from fertile soil with a slightly acid pH (between 6.0 and 6.5), but once they are up and growing, beans make most of the nitrogen they need.

There are many benefits to growing your own produce like beans, zucchini and swiss chard at home. It is economical. You can easily make it organic. Your veggies will most likely taste better if you pick it and eat it the same day, also giving you the highest percentage of nutrients. Gardening can be therapeutic and can provide exercise.

Happy gardening!

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