Friday PhotoEssay: March 27th

We’ve had two work days over the last two weeks and one hailstorm. Most of the cleanup involved removing a few remaining dead plants, raking up the remaining straw from last year, and collecting leaves that had blown in and taken up residence on the paths. We also planted potatoes, strawberries, cut back herbs, dug horseradish, and worked in all the compost we had stored in the shed from last year.

The garden is all spic and span and ready to grow!

On one hand, I was a little disappointed in how weak a lot of the strawberry plants were coming through the winter. The ‘Ozark Beauty’ were very thin and weak. The ‘Ogallala’ were better, and they were stronger last fall too, since they had sent runners down to the path that had taken root. I ordered more ‘Mara des Bois’ for the section of the bed that ended up being planted to peanuts last year, and we ended up pulling many of the wimpy ‘Ozark Beauty’ plants and replanting with the ‘Mara des Bois.’ The picture is of a couple of the newly planted bareroot plants that are just starting to peek out leaves.

One thing that was definitely not any worse after the winter was the horseradish. Not that it was surprising, because horseradish is one of those plants that is harder to kill than it is to keep alive. We dug out some nice big roots, and the plan is to use this bed for peppers this year instead. Those of you that have grown horseradish can now start laughing at the people who will be busy trying to keep the horseradish from re-colonizing this bed.

So I had the lettuce, chard, and kale outside hardening off on Wednesday. And I left it out overnight because I figured that 35 degrees wouldn’t hurt it and would be good for it. And then it hailed. It was in the cold frame, but not under the covered part. Oops. Luckily, the majority of the lettuce looks none the worse for wear. The chard looks the worst, because it has spindly, unprotected stems at this stage and not many protective leaves. Most of it will probably be okay, but it is a bit of a setback.

Look at that yummy compost! We are lucky to have our Master Gardener compost committee working hard all year round to provide us with great compost! We topped off several of our beds with compost last week. This bed was pretty low, so it will be nice and rich with that compost this year.

Have a great weekend!

2015 Garden Plans: Peppers & Potatoes

It is always a bit of a challenge to figure out what we are going to plant in the 4′ x 4′ gardens. This year we are planting peppers in one of them and potatoes in the other.

Bed 9There is space for 4 pepper plants, but we have a nice diversity of plants included.

1. ‘Lunchbox Orange’ is a variety we tried a couple years ago. This is one of the “snack pepper” varieties. It has pretty good yield and delicious, sweet, orange peppers.

2. ‘Sweet Sunshine’ is a new variety that was developed as an edible ornamental. It looks like an ornamental pepper, but unlike regular ornamental peppers, the peppers are supposed to have a good, sweet flavor. Usually ornamental peppers are really hot and not very tasty.

3. ‘King Arthur’ is one of our standard, recommended bell peppers.

4. ‘Sweet Banana’ is a standard banana pepper.

For the potato garden, we really only need 4 seed pieces, so the Master Gardeners will go out and buy a couple seed potatoes locally for planting.

And I think that is the end of our garden plans for this year! Of course we have our Prairie Star annual flowers in various locations around the garden, but we won’t know what we have to plant until May.

On to the planting season!

2015 Garden Plans: Herbs & Flowers

We all enjoyed the Herbs & Flowers for Pollinators garden so much last year that we decided to reprise it this year. One major difference this year is that we reduced the planned number of plants because things were a bit crowded last year.

Bed 6

Like I said, very similar to last year. The main differences are some different varieties of Zinnias, different varieties of Autumn Sage, and moving things around a bit. We also are using parsley and cutting celery on the front edge of the bed and added a Pineapple Sage as well.

2015 Garden Plans: Strawberries

We had so much trouble getting the strawberries established last year that we are giving them another chance! The plants that finally started to thrive are going to stay, even though they are kind of a mixture of different types. We did order some ‘Mara des Bois’ strawberries to fill in the area that had peanuts last year.

For a refresher on the plans last year: 2014 Garden Plans.

2015 Garden Plans: Tomatoes

Our tomatoes will be in our largest raised bed this year, which gives us lots of space. We are going to have two each of 8 different varieties. We wanted to try some common varieties, as well as some different things.

Bed 4

One thing that we are doing differently this year is that all of our plants are coming from a local greenhouse, with two exceptions, and those we are ordering as plants from a company.

1. ‘Mountain Fresh’ – I know the image says Mountain Fresh Plus, but I’m pretty sure that we are getting straight Mountain Fresh. This is a determinate, red slicer that has good disease resistance.

2. ‘Mountain Merit’ – Another determinate, red slicer with good disease resistance. Both of the “mountain” varieties are supposed to have pretty good crack resistance as well.

3. ‘Celebrity’ – This is our comparison variety for yield, cracking, and earliness. Determinate, red slicer as well.

4. ‘Phoenix’- Another determinate, red slicer with good disease resistance. This one has slightly larger fruit and is supposed to have good heat tolerance as well.

5. ‘Indigo Kumquat’ – This is from the new Indigo series, with the dark purple coloration on the shoulders. This is a grape tomato that is orange with the purple shoulders. It is indeterminate, but has some good disease resistance.

6. ‘Indigo Apple’ – Another Indigo series tomato, this one is more in the 2-4 oz. cocktail size range. It is red with purple shoulders. It is also indeterminate with good disease resistance and crack resistance.

7. ‘Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye’ – This is an heirloom-type tomato that is a beefsteak/slicer type. It has darker red/wine colored skin and flesh with metallic green stripes on the skin. I grew this one in my garden at home last year and really enjoyed it. It is NOT crack resistant, however! It is indeterminate and has good disease resistance.

8. ‘Chef’s Choice’ – This one is brand new on the market this year. It is an orange slicer with large fruit and some disease resistance. It is also indeterminate.

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