Friday PhotoEssay – July 14, 2017

Like many local gardens, our Demonstration Garden is seeing the onset of a wide range of insects, diseases, and weather-related challenges. On the surface though, it is beginning to look like a rather overgrown jungle of green.

35753095232_b67cbf5fc4With the tomatoes and vine crops throughout the garden, everything is starting to look a little crazy, and I’m afraid it will only get worse before it gets much better. Of course, on the surface, everything looks beautiful. But at closer inspection, it’s not quite as pretty.

35753076982_ce27e7cb2fWhile the cracked tomatoes are by no means an uncommon sight for the Kansas gardener, it can be downright frustrating when they are cracked to the point of mushy rottenness before they are remotely close to ripe. Not to mention disgusting when you stick your finger into a rotten spot while trying to pick what looks like a good tomato. That is what happened with these two Cherokee Purple tomatoes. The combination of watering, rain, heat, and variety has made these tomatoes mush before their time. Normally we recommend harvesting before full maturity to prevent the worst cracks, but that doesn’t work in this instance.

35922889015_c4d51fa281The beans are well on their way to being crispy due to spider mites. The mites seem to have gotten started a couple weeks ago, and the progression has been such that nothing seems to help. Normally we would recommend either a hard stream of water, neem oil, or horticultural oil as a treatment. However, with the heat and high population, it will probably be time to pull these plants out in the near future.

35922852285_939c99aebfA couple of the melon varieties have a few disease lesions on the leaves. It isn’t very severe at this point, probably because it has been relatively dry until last night. We haven’t opted to treat yet, partly because the plants are so large, but it is important to keep an eye on things like this, because it can spread quickly. In hindsight, it would have been smart to treat before last night’s rain.

35922871395_11255b89b5What sad looking onions, you say? Well, yes. But not really. The onions flopped over at the necks is an indication that the plants are done growing and the onions can be harvested. We pulled all the onions this week, some from the Grocery Garden and the rest from the Peruvian Garden.

35791372561_5a9633ab3aJust so you don’t think that all is death & destruction in our garden this week, here are some of the cucumbers we harvested. The dark green variety is Tyria, and English cucumber that had very small seeds and relatively thin skin. The white one is Lime Crisp, which was supposed to be more of a lime green color, but looks almost white. It was sweet, but had larger seeds.

35534633400_66d93f9fabFinally, the watermelons! We have several melons set and growing well. We bagged / nyloned all of them this week to ensure they can stay on the vine and keep growing well. Since we selected larger melons this year, they likely still have a few weeks of growing to do before harvest.

Have a great weekend!

Grocery Garden Harvest Report

It’s been almost a month since the last harvest report, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been harvesting.

35609780165_a5ce4d26f7

We had a stunningly beautiful harvest this past week, with gold beets, purple carrots, green beans, and more!

I’m not going to break this down by week, just lump everything all together. The lettuce and arugula are now pretty much done for the first part of the year, while we have just been pulling the biggest beets and carrots. The onions will probably be ready in a couple more weeks, and the beans are just getting started. I also expect to see ripe tomatoes by next week. 

June Harvest Report

Baby lettuce: 3.6 lbs @ $5.99 per lb = $21.56

Arugula: 17 oz. @ $5.99 per lb = $6.36

Romano Beans: 10 oz @ $4.00 per lb = $2.50

Gold Beets: 1 bunch @ $3.00 per bunch = $3.00

Red (Cylindra) Beets: 1 bunch @ $3.00 per bunch = $3.00

Yellow Carrots: 1.5 bunches @ $3.00 per bunch = $4.50

Purple Dragon Carrots: 3 bunches @ $3.00 per bunch = $9.00

Red Cippolini Onion: 2.2 oz @ $0.49 per oz = $1.07 

June Harvest Total: $50.99

Year to Date Total: $120.73

Friday PhotoEssay – June 30, 2017

It’s been a few weeks since our last PhotoEssay, and the garden has changed significantly! Here’s our overview for this week: 


Just a comparison of the same view last week: 35446106376_acaed67120

And the same view three weeks ago:

35031930602_45365981f0The vine crops have grown more than 10x bigger overall (and I’m pretty sure twice the size just since last week!) and the tomatoes are at least twice the size. The peas are gone and have been replaced with more plantings of squash and melons. 

While the garden looks great from a bird’s eye view, from a closer look I can tell you that some of the normal summer disease and spider mite issues are already starting to take hold.  But….I have enough neat things to show you without showcasing the start of the usual death and destruction. 

Here’s another view of the Vertical garden, taken a week ago. The vines had just reached the size where clipping them to the trellises was necessary that week, and they were already escaping the trellises again. 

And the same view again, perhaps a slightly different angle. This was taken yesterday. While the watermelon vines (closest to the front) are not thick (yet), they have clearly been growing quickly! It takes regular clipping or tying to keep the vines from getting out of control. 


We had a big harvest week this week as well. I’ll be posting the Grocery Garden Harvest Report soon, but we also harvested some sprouting broccoli, Swiss chard, kale, and onions from the accessible beds, cabbage from the colonial garden, and eggplant from the containers. The beets, carrots, and beans are from the Grocery Garden. 

The ‘On Deck’ sweet corn is tasseling! It isn’t even three feet tall when it supposedly should be five. Perhaps a little short on nitrogen? At any rate, corn doesn’t typically put on height after tasseling. I don’t see any signs of ears developing yet, so I’m not overly optimistic…But it is cool to have corn growing in our garden in a container. Maybe we will recommend it as an ornamental for containers? 

This is one of the artichoke plants. If you look really hard at the center of the picture, you can see a small, purple bud, which is the start of what will be the artichoke at some point. Artichokes actually ARE the flower buds. This one is still very immature, but it’s nice to see that we’ll get something out of this bed, even if not very much. 

Have a great weekend! 

Friday PhotoEssay – June 9, 2017

Lots of plants are blooming in our garden this week – and that’s not always a good thing!

35031930602_45365981f0With warm weather, the garden continues to grow rapidly. Nothing ever stays the same, and over the next week we will be removing some spring plants and planting a few more summer plants.

35031904862_bbb559f4d7The potatoes are now in full bloom. Between the rather showy white flowers and the purple tinge on the leaves, the plants are beautiful. They are also getting a bit floppy. I’m concerned that the yield may not be great due to excess nitrogen, but we won’t know that until later. Typically, we assume that tuber growth has started once flowering begins and harvest is after the plants have died back.

35031914982_90a4d01203Of the carrots we have planted in the Grocery Garden, one is ‘Dragon,’ a purple-skinned, orange fleshed heirloom. With the spring weather, several of the carrot plants are bolting. Once bolted, the carrot root will be more bitter and fibrous, as well as simply smaller that otherwise. Carrots can grow well here in good soil, but they are more reliable in the fall. The warming temperatures in the spring can cause many varieties to bolt.

35066831521_d687b007c7Also blooming this week is the cilantro. We have been growing a variety, ‘Calypso,’ that is supposed to be slower to bolt. Really, not bolting until early June is very good results for cilantro in Kansas. And even though it has bolted, the flowers are edible and then the seeds can be used for coriander later.

35031896952_29eb30a54f The tomatoes are flowering and even starting to set some fruit. This is the ‘Little Napoli’ that is in the Accessible Garden. It was impressive last year, and looks like it is on the same track this year.

35197347145_3553f919a0Hmm…no flowers here to fit with the theme. Still, I wanted to show off how good the kale and chard are looking in the Accessible Garden.

Friday PhotoEssay – June 2, 2017

Even though I see it happen every single year, it always surprises me to see how fast things grow and change in the garden at this time of year.

34240543393_f00b60c721This is also the time of year we typically experience a change in the weather from cool, moist spring to hotter summer temps. That tends to push our summer veggies into overdrive of growth and our spring veggies to finish up. I think the theme of this week’s post is Growing Like Crazy vs Done and Almost Done.

35010665386_14e1e28fb7The tomatoes are growing like weeds. An interesting observation currently is that the non-grafted plants may be slightly ahead of the grafted in flowering. The grafted plants are putting on a lot more vigorous sucker growth. Many trials have found that grafted plants may tend to fruit slightly later and have more foliage, so what we are seeing would seem to track with those results.

34207390504_8d99a7ed0fThe ‘Peas-in-a-Pot’ that were covered in pea pods a week ago are now bare of flowers and pods. They are not bare of powdery mildew however. The yellowing and disease, coupled with the lack of production is a really good indicator that this variety has run its course and it is time to remove it. It will soon be too hot for the plants and it is done producing.

35010667446_73cc0eb6f0Back on the growing fast side of the equation, the cantaloupes, watermelons, cucumbers, and other melons that we have planted have germinated and are growing well. They seem small right now, but I can guarantee you that they will double, triple, or quadruple in size over the next week or two.

34240537783_7d3f4cfd73In contrast, the garlic is quickly approaching the end of its growing life. Typically it should be harvested and cured when about 5 leaves have died. As you can see, this variety is going to be ready to harvest soon.

34240545473_a51c5d1d2cThis last picture is in the “FINALLY” category. We had planned to plant Aji Amarillo peppers in the Peruvian Garden, because they are the most popular pepper in Peruvian cuisine. However, the seeds we ordered never germinated, despite being planted twice. We finally gave in and ordered seeds from another source and planted them last week. Happily, we have gotten several seedlings from this batch. So this variety will be late in the garden, but hopefully we will get something.