Monday, July 22, 2013

Royal Burgundy Bush Beans

For years I have been growing beans that do well in Tucson’s hot, often dry, climate. As often happens in Tucson, it is easy to grow vegetables that taste poor while it is often difficult to grow good tasting vegetables – without some form of shade or special care.

Royal Burgundy Beans growing on a bush

Royal Burgundy Bush Bean Yield

Most of the beans I have grown in the past require additional preparation in cooking – usually blanching. Although the Royal Burgundy Bush Bean is nothing special it has passed all the tests I had it go through. This bean variety is heat resistant, it neither attracts lace bugs or succumbs to their destruction, and it tastes good. A few of the bean plants did burn a little in June, but most held on and produced a second crop of beans in July.

A few of the first Royal Burgundy Bush Beans I picked from my garden

Dry Royal Burgundy Bush Beans exhibit a mottled creamy tan color

Royal Burgany Bush Beans - Before cooking

As for cooking, it can be steamed, baked, sautéed, or boiled without any preparation beforehand. In short, the Royal Burgundy bush bean is a heat tolerant, bug resistant, regular bush bean. This bean will definitely be growing in my garden in the future. The source for my seed was a packet a friend gave to me from Botanical Interests.

Like many Purple Beans, Royal Burgundy do not retain their color when cooked.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Satsuki Midori Cucumber

My experience with growing cucumbers in the Southwest has led me to believe that the two type of cucumbers worth growing in our unbearable heat and full sun are either cucumber-melons (C. melo) or Japanese cucumbers. While looking for a vigorous, yet tasty cucumber variety I came across the Satsuki Midori Cucumber. I obtained my seed for this variety from Seeds of Change.

This Satsuki Midori Cucumber was sweet and delicious

This cucumber turned out to be fairly sweet, crisp, and delicious. I experienced no bitterness at all. It is similar to Suyo Long – except Suyo long has a finer texture while the Satsuki Midori is definitely sweeter. I would definitely grow it again.

The cucumber ends are pointed due to setting fruit in the heat

The only concern I have with this variety in this climate is that half the female blossoms failed to set, due to the heat of the middle of the day. The majority of the blossoms that did set were able to do so because they were protected by leaves.

Blossom set can decrease when flowers dry out in the heat

The plant itself tends to be heat tolerant, though the fruit is not. For those growing this variety in the southwest I would recommend partial shade to promote greater fruit production.

Fruit sets better behind the shade of foliage

The Unfair Garden

I try not to constantly complain about Tucson’s summer weather – however – during a recent trip to Utah - my sister’s beautiful garden made me a little jealous. She said that all she had to do was weed and add seed.

My oldest son picking peas in my sister's garden

Gardening can be easy in more moderate climates

The previous tenants in the house worked very hard on the garden and she is definitely reaping the results. Her lettuce was delicious – even in the heat.

My nephew picking a carrot

My nephew examining his carrot

My children were picking peas most of the time we were visiting her. The weather was warm – but no where close to Tucson.

Peas grow wonderful in July - in Utah

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A New Mexico Gardening Getaway

Recently, my wife and I were able to get away to a really nice bed & breakfast in Southwestern New Mexico, called D&D's Organic Haven. Deb and her husband Dan do a great job taking care of people who need a getaway. The real highlight of this getaway is that I was able to get away from the work of my own garden while enjoying all the benefits of Deb's work in her garden. 

Backyard view at D&D's Organic Haven

A few of the flower beds at D&Ds

Some onions and beets

Deb caters to diverse food allergies and is more then willing to incorporate her produce into the meals. I had a great time.

Deb was a wonderful host

A pretty purple flower

Some pretty blue flowers

It was fun to see some of the same beetles that live in Tucson

Some of the chickens at D&D's Organic Haven

Deb has to cover most of her veggies so that she doesn't only feed critters

Some beets and onions

A young squash plant

Chard and Butterhead lettuce

Lettuce and Carrots

Another look at the beets & onions