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Blazing Hot Summer Plants Part 1

By Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardener

 

In our previous article, we wrote about the need and strategies for growing a more resilient garden in our hotter summer weather.   One of the options we mentioned was to explore growing tropical and subtropical crops which are adapted to our hotter summer conditions.  So, let’s delve more deeply into these blazing hot summer plants and start by reviewing the common plants you might already know and then venture into the unknown.  Remember that lack of knowledge and finding a source for non-traditional summer vegetables is the greatest deterrent to branching out and trying new summer crops. 

 

Okra, black-eyed peas, yard-long beans, and sweet potatoes are on that common known list.  And we have previously written about sweet potatoes.  See  

 

Okra and black-eyed peas, a type of southern pea, are staples in the south and starts may be found locally.  Okra is widely appreciated in the south, but not so much in colder areas.  Okra produces prolifically in our long hot summers and in other tropical and subtropical regions of the world it is a food staple.  Recognized as a healthy food, its fibers help lower cholesterol and other plant compounds help stabilize blood sugar in diabetics.  The fibers have also been used for making paper and cordage.  The beautiful flowers are also edible.  It is a member of the Mallow family as is the native Pavonia, the Lady Bird Johnson 2024 Wildflower of the year.  See https://www.westtexasgardening.org/post/save-the-date-september-14-2024      

 

Traditional green, round peas and black-eyed peas are both in the legume family, Fabaceae, but are in different genera. True peas belong to the genus Pisum while the cream-colored, black-eyed peas belong to the genus VignaSo, technically the black-eyed pea is not a pea but a bean.  And we grow and consume them differently.  The delicate taste and texture of round, green, garden peas are an early spring treat fresh or cooked.   Black-eyed peas or other types of southern peas, as beans, are heartier and you might even cook them with meat like other beans.  For more info on growing and eating them see: https://plants.usda.gov/DocumentLibrary/plantguide/pdf/pg_viun.pdf

 

Similarly, long beans or yard-long beans look like extra-long green beans and although they are in the same family, Fabaceae, they, also, are in different genera.  Like black-eyed peas, yard-long beans are in the genus Vigna but green beans are in genus Phaseolus.     We eat the young edible pods of yard- long beans like we would a green bean, but if you let the yard-long bean mature, the interior seeds can also be dried and eaten like other types of beans.  True green beans are planted in the spring or in the fall as they can’t survive the summer heat.  But if you crave traditional green beans in summer months try growing yard-long beans which are blazing hot summer plants.  For more information on growing and using yard-long beans see: 

 

If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.   Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at westtexasgardening.org.  Click on “Resources”.


Yard Long Beans

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