Monthly Archives: October 2010

Harvesting & Storing Lemongrass

The weather really is getting cooler! Eventually, anyway. With that in mind, we harvested our 4 lemongrass plants from the Demo Garden earlier this week. Lemongrass is grown as an annual in Kansas because it won’t tolerate temperatures below 40 degrees very well. Theoretically, you could divide the big clump at the end of the season and plant a couple stalks to keep it going over the winter. I think is just fine to replant fresh every spring. (Easier, too!)

So the plants were pulled out and the tops trimmed off. The grassy leaves can probably be used to make tea if you are excessively ambitious, but we weren’t.

The best part of the lemongrass to use is the part of the stalk within 2-4″ of the base of the plant. The upper parts of the stems can be used to infuse teas or things like that. The part that is usually used in cooking though, is the bottom part. To get the stalks off, you kind of have to twist & pull each stalk to get it pulled out. You don’t want to mangle it, so you kind of have to find the angle where it will break cleanly.

After pulling off the stalks, you want to peel the outer couple of layers off if you are going to store it for a longer period of time. If you are planning to use it within a couple weeks, just throw it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and peel it when you’re ready. However, if you are going to freeze it for use later on, you should peel it now.

The peeled ends will be more tender. They are also more fragrant and flavorful, great for making one of the tasty Lemongrass recipes I shared at Lunch in the Garden back in September!



Friday PhotoEssay

Wow! Friday came around fast this week. Next week is our Annual Extension Conference, so posting may be light during the early part of the week. This week we’re enjoying all the fall greens and other things that are loving the fall weather.

In our Asian garden, we have several different varieties of Bok Choy, most of which are getting absolutely shredded by flea beetles. I should spray them, but I hate spraying greens so much that I’m putting it off. This ‘Toy Choi’ Bok Choy is looking the best of all of them, with dark green leaves, bright white stems, and relatively undamaged leaves. It is a mini bok choy that should be mature at about 4″ tall. It’s getting pretty close!

The spinach is really random this fall. Some of the plantings are not doing well at all, while others are like this one. The leaves are huge and succulent! I don’t think I’ve ever grown spinach that is that beautiful.

The ‘Chocolate Cherry’ tomato is truly the gift that keeps on giving! It has been a steady producer all year with hardly a hiccup, even in the hottest part of the summer. Obviously it’s still producing plenty of tomatoes.

The French Tarragon has looked rather forlorn all summer, but it is looking great now! Tarragon isn’t an extremely common herb for most American cooking, but it plays a huge role in many French dishes. I really think I need to try a tarragon recipe or two now that the tarragon is looking good.

You know, I think I said a couple weeks ago that I wasn’t expecting the Bachelor Buttons to bloom yet this fall, but they may prove me wrong. Several of the plants are starting to shoot up like they are going to put on flowers. We’ll just have to wait and see. And…Bachelor Buttons are edible! We could have some fun salads if they do bloom.

Have a great weekend!

Three Fall Radishes

Our fall radishes continue to grow. They are getting to be almost big enough to harvest – especially if you don’t particularly care about getting them as big as possible.

This ‘Mantanghong’ radish is sizing up nicely, although not quite as big as it could be. I pulled two for class today and one had great color – brilliant pink – all the way through. The other had a nice sunburst of pink in the center, but it was mostly white. Great, sweet flavor though.

This is a Green Meat Radish. It is shaped more like a daikon or a carrot rather than a round radish. It is green all the way through – kind of a pale lime green. I’ve never grown these before, and boy is it hot and spicy! Yikes! (And look at all those dead leaves in the picture. Funny how I didn’t notice them before I took the picture. Those leaves aren’t anything to be concerned about.)

This is one of the Daikon radishes – a regular, plain daikon this time! It doesn’t look like much from the picture, but some of these are almost 8″ long already! It has a different flavor…not quite as radish-y as the other two, perhaps?

Now I need to find some good recipes that use all these different radishes!

Thinking About Fruit

We are thinking about putting in a fruit display garden/orchard here at the Extension Office. It’s not a sure thing whether or not we’re going to do it. We are just in the exploration and pre-planning stages.

One of the most important factors is determining if the spot we have available can actually grow fruit! My best estimate right now is that the soil is classified as a Sandy Clay…not exactly what we’re looking for in a fruit garden. We could probably make it better by incorporating a whole bunch of compost, but it still won’t have great drainage like many fruits require. I’ve also taken a soil test from the area to see if the pH is anywhere close to reasonable. (You have no idea how shocked and excited I’ll be if the pH test comes back as anything below 7.5!)

One of the reasons for growing fruit in a small home garden that we discussed during Master Gardener class last week is that you can grow fruits that are unusual or not easy to find in the grocery store.

Of course, I had to bribe everyone to see my point of view by feeding them – Red Currant Scones and this yummy Red Currant Pie. I had frozen 4 cups of currants back in June when the single Red Currant bush in the Demo Garden was loaded. When’s the last time you saw fresh (or even frozen) red currants in a grocery store in Kansas? That’s right…pretty much never!

So, that being said, which fruit would you like to see planted in a fruit display garden?


Radicchio is a vegetable that is both rather common and very uncommon all at the same time. We’re used to seeing the red and white thick leaves in our salad mixes and occasionally whole heads in the produce section. Growing radicchio is something else all together. It’s not very common to see radicchio grown in a garden in Kansas. One reason is that it likes cool to cold weather and a long growing season. It can be a challenge to grow here, because we can end up with weather in the winter that is just too cold for it to survive. We grew a couple plants two years ago and they did make it through the winter until March. I’m not sure what happened then.

This year, I had some seeds kicking around and so I planted a row in one of my fall garden trials. Silly me, I planted it between the Kale and the Swiss Chard. The poor radicchio grows so slowly that it was getting shaded out.

Of course, I also planted everything just a little too close together. That slightly empty space between the gangly kale on the left and the Swiss chard on the right is where the radicchio was originally planted. The radicchio really had no chance. I thought that thinning out the kale would make things better, but it really didn’t. The kale could really use some nice cold weather to toughen it up a little bit.

Anyway, we pulled the last of the cantaloupe vines out today, since they were pretty much dead. With all that extra space, I decided to dig up the row of radicchio and transplant it into the melon space. This allowed me to space it out more appropriately too.

It is pretty tender and floppy, since it was shaded and given the opportunity to get too leggy. It really looks like lettuce right now. In fact, I think that can be confusing if you’ve never grown it before. It doesn’t develop the characteristic red color or start getting thicker leaves until it gets much cooler and the plant is more developed. Hopefully with a little more exposure to sun, wind, and cooler temperatures (maybe), these plants will start to look a little bit better.