Author Archives: Garden Decor


ALL ABOUT BEANS: Common pests and diseases

Bean plants are prone to a handful of pests and disease that could wipe out your entire crop. Arm yourself with the proper solutions before the season begins so you can attack an issue at first sight, before it becomes a problem.

Aphids – sometimes with or without wings, these garden pests are also known as plant lice or green flies. They are a soft-bodied insect and range in color from green to orange to gray/black or white. Aphids produce a sweet, sticky excretion known as honeydew and will make your plants feel sticky. If there is a large infestation the leaves of your plant may curl and turn brown. Outfit your garden arsenal with Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap to manage aphids. Simply spray visible bugs to eliminate them.

Bean Beetles – unlike most beetles that feed on insects, the bean beetle feeds on plants. In colors ranging from red to rusty brown to golden yellow, you will find this beetle doesn’t have a particular bean preference and will feed on most types. If your bean plants’ leaves have a lacey appearance they could be victim, as bean beetles feed on leaves from the underside. A hard-bodied insect killer like Safer® Brand EndALL will kill the beetles on contact. Check undersides of leaves for pupal stage larvae and hand pick them and destroy.

Japanese Beetles – about a half-inch in length, these tiny creatures pack a powerful punch. Shiny bluish-green bodies combined with coppery wings, the Japanese Beetle has small worm-like larvae known as grubs. The adult Japanese Beetle is the predator to the bean plant and will create holes in plant leaves or fully remove the leaves from your bean plant. A preventative measure like the Safer® Brand Japanese Beetle Trap will lure beetles away from your plants and trap and kill them. If you find you have a problem with beetles at the larvae stage you’ll want to employ a grub remedy like Safer® Brand Grub Killer.

White Mold – identified as a white cottony growth on the stem, branches, and pods of bean plants, white mold’s inception begins when the soil surface is cool and moist. Very well drained soil helps prevent white mold, while also using Safer® Brand Garden Fungicide to treat issues as they become visible.



You chose the beans you wanted to grow, you planted and grew them, and now they’re ready to be harvested. So, what’s next?

Beans are ready to be harvested when sizeable and firm pods are present. Snap or cut them off, but be careful to not tear the plant. If you wait to pick the pods the seeds inside will begin to develop and become plants of their own.

Once removed from a plant, bean pods are fresh for about 4-7 days. You can freeze beans, pickle them, or can them for preservation.  Ball Jars gives a great canning tutorial here.

young plants


Now that you are aware that there are many different beans you can plant, it is time to get them in the ground! Each bean variety has its own specifics, so make sure you check their directions when getting ready to sow seeds.

Regardless of the type of bean there are a couple rules of thumb. Follow these guidelines:

  • Starting bean seeds indoors may be detrimental, as surviving transplanting doesn’t always happen
  • Pole beans should be planted in a staked area. Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® Sturdy Stakes® should be placed in the ground prior to seeds being sown in order to avoid injury to the plants.
  • Plant pole beans 3 inches apart, and plant bush beans 2 feet apart
  • Beans can be planted to offer a full summer harvest. If this is your goal you should sow them about every 2 weeks.
  • Plant bean seeds in well-drained, well mulched soil
  • Water bean plants regularly throughout their life cycle. Similar to most plants, water during sunny days to avoid excess water on leaves and resulting mold.
  • Keep plant beds weeded
green beans on the plant

ALL ABOUT BEANS: Vertical vs. horizontal growing

Depending on the bean variety you have you will practice vertical or horizontal growing techniques. Beans are available in four growth patterns: bush, pole, runner, and half-runner.  Bush bean plants are bush-like in form and are self-supporting. Pole beans have vines that grow up structures and appreciate stakes or trellises. Runner beans are cool weather condition pole beans and half-runners have a growing habit that falls between pole beans and bush beans.

Bush beans grow horizontally and should be planted about two feet apart to allow healthy growth. This spacing also ensures you are able to weed the area properly and give the plants enough air circulation which helps minimize mold or fungus risk.

Pole beans have stems that are “runners.” Runners like to grow up and on guiding structures and they have a tendency to grow horizontally when given the option. The garden bed where you plant your pole beans should be outfitted with garden stakes or cages before sowing seeds so that you do not damage the seeds or seedling plants.

As pole bean varieties grow they will be guided up the cage or stakes and create vertical gardens rather than a bush bean horizontal garden. You can assist your pole beans by using jute twine to tie the initial vine. Make sure the jute is loose enough that the vine can grow out of it to wrap around the structure. You can cut the jute when the vine has created its own support.


ALL ABOUT BEANS: Bean Varieties

Bean varieties offer you options for your garden. Beans are available in two main types: shell beans and snap beans. Shell beans offer protein-rich seeds while snap beans are grown for their pods. Furthermore you can segregate beans into four growth patterns: bush, pole, runner, and half-runner. Bush bean plants are bush-like in form and are self-supporting. Pole beans have vines that grow up structures and appreciate stakes or trellises. Runner beans are cool weather condition pole beans and half-runners have a growing habit that falls between pole beans and bush beans.

There are tons of beans available to grow in your garden this year, but let’s explore the most popular. Black beans, black-eyed peas, fava beans, garbanzo, lima beans and string beans are all easy to grow and have nutritional benefits. Check out the highlights of each:

Black beans – popular for stews and soups, these beans need three months of warm temperatures to mature. Be certain the danger of frost has passed when planting black beans.

Black-eyed peas – available in bush and runner varieties, black-eyed peas are easy to grow given the proper climate and conditions. Black-eyed peas are typically white with one black spot on them.

Fava beans – thriving in cold, damp weather, fava beans are more popular in Europe than the US. They take about 75 days to mature and are a great source of vegetable protein, only second to soybeans.

Garbanzo beans – a bushy bean plant that needs about 65-100 days until maturity, garbanzo beans are also known as chickpeas.

Lima beans – consisting of pole and bush varieties, limas take 60-75 days for bush variety growth where pole types need 90-130 days for growth. Plant lima bean plants when you’re sure that frost threats have passed.

String beans – grown in soil temperatures at 65 degrees or higher, these plants need about 45-75 days until harvest. Stakes or a trellis will help support these climbing vines.


ALL ABOUT BEANS: What is a legume?

So, what exactly is a legume? Legumes are defined as the long seedpod, or edible portion, of a leguminous plant. Included in the legume family are nuts, peas, lentils, and beans. Beans are the most common variety of legumes and include black beans, soybeans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and lima beans. They are high in protein and carbohydrates, but low in fat, and foodies appreciate them for their healthy but filling servings.


Fire Pit Cook Top Recipes!

An easy and fun way to cook on your  fire pit cook top is to use the “foil pack” method. You can prepare them at home, freeze them for transportation, and then keep them in the cooler until you’re ready to cook. Try this easy foil pack recipe via


  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 (8 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 small potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced


1. In a large bowl, or a large zip-top bag, combine the chicken, onion, mushrooms, yellow pepper, red pepper, garlic, and potatoes. Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice, then mix well.
2. Evenly divide the mixture between 4 large sheets of aluminum foil. Top each with another sheet of foil, and roll up the edges tightly. Wrap each packet again, securely in another sheet of foil to double wrap.
3. Cook in the hot coals of a CobraCo™ Fire Pit until the chicken is opaque and the potatoes are tender, around 40 minutes.

Breakfast lovers will appreciate this simple donut recipe via!


  • 1 can of buttermilk biscuits
  • vegetable oil for frying pan
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon


  1. Heat about two inches of oil in a large pot.  Separate the biscuits on a cutting board and cut a hole from the center of each.
  2. Fry the dough in about two inches of oil.
  3. Flip with tongs after a minute or two.
  4. Place the cooked donuts in a paper bag with cinnamon and toss for a tasty and sweet covering
  5. Serve with coffee

Campfire Crescent Dogs are a quick way to satisfy your kids hunger while dining in the great outdoors! This recipe from Tablespoon is simple and easy!


  1. One tube Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  2. 8 hot dogs
  3. Ketchup & mustard


  1. On a flat surface, open the tube of crescent rolls and unroll dough. Separate into triangles along perforations.
  2. Place the hot dog on the edge of the crescent roll and begin rolling so the majority of hot dog is covered by the crescent dough. Make sure the crescent dough overlaps at the end, otherwise it will fall apart.
  3. Skewer your crescent dog on a CobraCo® S’mores Fork and roast it over the fire until golden brown. (Tip: Roasting away from the flames, but in a spot that is still quite hot, gives a nice even roasting.)
  4. Serve immediately with ketchup and mustard as desired.

Cast Iron Skillet Campfire Cooking

Go “old-school” and use a cast iron skillet to cook on your outdoor fire this summer! There are a few basics to know for better cast iron skillet cooking and they are cleaning and seasoning.

Seasoning your cast iron skillet forms its nonstick surface. Coat the skillet with cooking oil and bake it in a 350 degree oven for an hour. After removing the skillet, dry it with paper towels. Season your cast iron skillet as often as you’d like to reinforce its nonstick surface.

To keep your skillet performing for years you’ll need to employ the proper cleaning techniques. Immediately after cooking you should rinse your skillet with hot water. To remove stuck-on food, grease, etc., use a non-abrasive treatment like course salt and a non-metal brush. Sparingly use a few drops of mild dishwashing soap.  Before storing, dry thoroughly with paper towels, apply a light coating of cooking oil, and cover with a paper towel to protect from dust.

With all this work to maintain a cast iron skillet you may wonder why we suggest using one. Cast iron skillets, although they take longer to heat up, retain heat very well and disperse it very evenly, which is ideal in an uneven cooking surface like live fires. Food’s iron content is increased when cooking with a cast iron skillet.

Next time you’re cooking outdoors, stretch your capabilities by bringing along a cast iron skillet and the ingredients needed for this easy recipe!

Campfire Breakfast Potatoes:


  • 5 lbs (about 6) russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of olive oil, about 2 tablespoons, and place the pan over the coals of your campfire, on a grate.
  2. Add the onion and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes, peppers, and another 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to coat.
  4. Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes, until potatoes start to brown.
  5. Add a few tablespoons of water, and cover with foil to steam for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add seasonings, continue to stir occasionally until fully browned, crispy, and tender in the middle.
  7. Serve alongside your favorite other breakfast items.

Outdoor Food Safety Tips to Avoid Foodborne Illness

Protecting your family from food-borne illness is crucial when cooking outdoors. Warmer temperatures and limited chilling resources create obstacles for cooking outside, although the right steps and precautions can make these situations manageable.

Transport your food properly. Until you begin cooking you’ll want to place cold foods on ice or frozen gel packs to be chilled at 40 degrees or below. Meat can be transported frozen so it thaws over time and stays colder longer. Keep meats wrapped separately and make sure their juices don’t leak to other foods. Cross-contamination is one of the quickest ways to spread food-borne illness.

If you’re marinating your food for grilling, make sure to do so in a refrigerated environment. Do not reuse marinade for flavoring cooked foods. Reserve a portion of the marinade before adding to the meat and use the separated amount later in cooking.

Cooking temperatures and thorough cooking greatly reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Keep a food thermometer on hand to make sure grilled foods reach their proper temperatures. The FDA suggests the following temperatures for your foods:

Food Temperature
Steaks and roasts 145°F
Fish 145°F
Pork 145°F
Ground beef 160°F
Egg dishes 160°F
Chicken breasts 165°F
Whole poultry 165°F
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs cook until pearly and opaque
Clams, oysters, and mussels cook until the shells are open

When it comes to serving your food your focus should be maintaining the proper temperature. The FDA urges that “the key is to never let your picnic food remain in the “Danger Zone” – between 40° F and 140° F – for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90° F. This is when bacteria in food can multiply rapidly, and lead to foodborne illness.”

Using these FDA appointed guidelines will help you to have an enjoyable and fun outdoor dining experience without the side effects associated with poor food preparation.


Turn Your Fire Pit into a Cook Top

Take your fire pit experience to the next level by using it as a cooking station! Follow these simple steps to create a cook top for your fire pit!

  1. Take accurate measurements of your CobraCo™ Fire Pit and head to your local hardware store.
  2. Purchase steel mesh with about a quarter to a half-inch fabrication to allow enough heat access to cook your food. Typically this is sold in sheets, so you may have to purchase more than one to fully cover your fire pit.
  3. Lay the sheets over your fire pit and trace the fire pit’s circumference. You’ll want the mesh to extend about an inch outside the fire pit. Using wire cutters and gloves, carefully cut the mesh.
  4. If you need to use two pieces to expand the width of the fire pit you can overlap the two pieces by a half inch. Using steel wire you’ll wrap the two pieces together for the length of the overlap.
  5. When cooking, you’ll want to place two steel rods across the cook top and then place the mesh over. This will support the center of the cook top when food has been placed on it.

Just like that, you’ve got an open flame cook top where you and your family can grill up a ton of delicious meals and create a ton of fantastic memories!