Friday PhotoEssay – May 20, 2016

Our photoessay for this past week is actually in the form of a video. Take a look!

2016 Garden Plans: Hops & Gingers

The final two raised beds are both 4’x4′ square beds.

In Bed 9, we are planting a ‘Cascade’ Hops vine to grow for the next few years. Hops are used for brewing beer, and we have been getting more and more questions about growing them. The young shoots of the vine can also be harvested like asparagus and eaten. The vine can grow 10+ feet per year. It is also a good food source for butterflies. We ended up planting some caraway seeds around the hops vine as well, just to fill the space until it grows.

Bed 10 is not yet planted, since the weather isn’t quite warm enough yet. This bed will feature plants from the Ginger family (Zingiberaceae).

Ginger used fresh is becoming more familiar to the average American cook, but it is still uncommon in the garden due to the tropical characteristics of the plant. Other flavoring or spice plants that are in the same family of tropical include cardamom, turmeric, and galangal. These plants will also have a share of this garden. It remains to be seen if they will do much, but it will be fun to watch them grow.

Friday PhotoEssay – May 13, 2016

With a week of warm weather and some rain, the garden continues to grow quickly. After this week, we have almost everything planted. We planted seeds of cucumbers and other vines, the scorzonera, and a few other miscellaneous things. I think all that we have yet to plant is the oca (hasn’t arrived yet) and some of the flowers. Of course, the vegetables that will be part of the fall garden are also not yet planted.

Of course, there is always something that goes wrong. This poor tomato plant is showing signs of herbicide injury. It is the only one, which means it is probably something in the soil. We added some compost, but other areas that have compost added are looking okay. We may never know exactly what happened! We will let it grow for a little longer to see if it outgrows the problem.

In contrast, this purple Chinese cabbage (from the purple garden), is looking spectacular. I love how the interior leaves get more crinkly as it grows.

The Chinese broccoli (in the Oriental Garden) is just starting to produce the edible flower buds. This type of broccoli is not supposed to produce large, individual heads but rather lots of smaller shoots. You can already see some of the side shoots developing. I think that we will need to harvest the initial center shoots to encourage more side branching for best yields.

We harvested the lettuce in the pallet garden and then planted some more strawberries. We also moved it to it’s permanent summer spot, which is a little bit shadier. It probably better mimics a balcony or patio situation this way, and maybe the lettuce will stay nice longer.

We did harvest the lettuce beds again this week, resulting in a multitude of bags of lettuce. It was looking really good and showing the pattern well. I couldn’t get a great picture because of the sun and shadow, but I think you get the idea.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – May 6, 2016

It was planting week in the Demo Garden! If you go back and look at the last whole garden picture, you can see just how much the garden has changed in just a couple of weeks. We planted the tomatoes on Tuesday and the peppers, eggplant, and annual flowers today. Whole GardenMay 6, 2016 (2)

The only things still to plant are the cucumbers, melons, and a few other very warm season things like our oddball root vegetables and tropicals. (More to come on some of those things next week.)

Both the winged beans and the blue butterfly pea (vining flower, not edible pea) required soaking before planting. The winged bean actually recommended soaking and pre-sprouting before planting. You can see these seeds have swollen, broken the seed coat, and are just starting to put out the first tiny shoot.

This is the ‘Black Beauty’ tomato plant. I don’t know if it is the weather or just a characteristic of that plant, but the older leaves have a purple cast to them. Normally I would call it a phosphorus deficiency, but it doesn’t look quite right, so I am wondering if the plant has extra purple pigment due to the anthocyanins in the fruit?

Since we’re on the topic of odd tomato plants, take a look at this cute little guy. It almost looks like a new potato coming up, but it is definitely a tomato. It is still short, but it is the same age as the large plants we transplanted. This is the ‘Patio Plum’ tomato, which is supposed to be very columnar but also compact. So far it is clearly very compact!

For the last two years, the pollinator garden has been beautiful by the end of the season, and I always regretted not taking pictures of it every week to catalog the changes. I’m going to try to take regular pictures of it too this year.

Have a great weekend!

2016 Garden Plans: Other Herbs

There are three other areas containing herbs that we haven’t discussed yet this year: Bed 7, Bed 8, and the containers.

Bed 7 houses our grapevine (‘Himrod’) with 6 or 7 varieties of thyme underneath it. These haven’t changed much since planting, except they have continued to grow and expand in the bed. The ‘Rose Scented’ thyme has been a pleasant surprise over the past few years with how vigorous and attractive it is.

Bed 8 has been our perennial herb garden, but it is shifting focus very slightly this year to be a kitchen garden with a few of the more common annuals in the bed as well.

Most of the perennials look great after the mild winter, with the salad burnet, chives, and sage all blooming right now. The tarragon also looks great. Additions will be two basils and a lemon verbena.

The other area that is shifting slightly are the containers. We’ve had herbs in them for the last few years, but this year we wanted to change it up a bit and focus on herbs that can be used in teas. Many of the herbs have lemon or orange flavor. We have also included stevia and chamomile.

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