Monthly Archives: February 2012

Garden Plans for 2012: Beautiful Vegetables

We have all kinds of fun themes throughout the Demo Garden this year, and this garden is another one. The vision behind the “Beautiful Vegetables” Garden is to have plants that have strong ornamental value as well as being edible. In addition, the Master Gardeners doing the planning on this bed were interested in incorporating some plants that have higher protein content.

As you can tell, much of this garden is a departure from many of the things we typically see in a small Kansas vegetable garden, and that’s not a bad thing! (That’s what the Family of 4 garden is for.)

The centerpiece of this garden is a runner bean with attractive pink-salmon flowers, called ‘Sunset,’ lined on either side with a dwarf runner bean that has orange and white bicolor flowers.

On either end of the runner beans, we will have black sesame, which is a complete experiment, since none of us have grown it before! The catalog says it likes heat and humidity, so we’ll find out!

On the left end of the garden we are planting 2 pepper varieties that are very ornamental, while still being tasty. The right end of the garden will be dedicated to Edamame (aka soybeans eaten green). We know soybeans grow in Kansas, so it’ll be fun to watch these grow.

On the top edge, we’ll have 2 ‘Cardinal’ Basils and 2 Red Shisos. The ‘Cardinal’ Basil has a more condensed, dark purple/red flower head as opposed to spikes. Red shiso is an Asian herb often used in sushi. Then the middle will be planted to cilantro when it gets cooler in the fall.

On the bottom edge, we are going to try some red bunching onions (the tops are still green, but the stalks are red) and both a red and a green radicchio.

All in all, this will be a fun garden to see how all these different plants do for us!


Garden Plans for 2012: New & Unique Vegetables

Despite the totally muddy state of disrepair that the garden is displaying right now and despite the lingering memories of last summer, we are forging ahead with our plans for the garden this year!

One of the themed gardens we are planning for this year is New and Unique Vegetables. Of courses, this is right up my alley!

This is a smaller bed, at slightly less than 12 feet long, with our typical 4 feet wide. Because we aren’t quite sure when we’ll be able to plant, we have plans for regular May planting, with a long list of options if something goes wrong and we can’t plant until July or August. (If we get to that point, I’ll share those ideas with you. Assuming you are still reading this blog when all I have to say is along the lines of, “Gee, maybe we’ll plant something sometime maybe.”)

But we are still positive and hopeful that we will be able to plant by sometime in May to early June. Just like we’re hopeful that this coming summer won’t be so terribly hot.

Anyway, let’s talk a little bit about what’s in this garden.

There are two types of zucchini – one is yellow and the other green. The fun part about these squash is that they both are striped squash. So while the plants aren’t crazy out there, the zucchinis themselves should be interesting.

Then there are the 2 eggplant. Even I can’t avoid eggplant every year. We managed to have ZERO eggplants in the garden last year, so I guess it is okay to have a couple this year. (And in the interest of full disclosure, I did eat a quite good eggplant dish at one of the local Indian restaurants last weekend. Anything is edible with enough spices…!) One of the eggplants is a white variety that produces small, egg-sized fruit. ‘Prosperosa’ is an Italian eggplant that is not the full dark purple, and instead of being an oblong, teardrop shape is much more rounded with slight ruffling near the stem.

Two tomatoes – although technically only one is a tomato. ‘Indigo Rose’ is the new purple tomato that is a very dark purple with an orange/red interior. The skin is supposed to get darker with more exposure to sun. The second “tomato,” the Litchi Tomato is technically not a tomato at all, although it is a cousin. The plant itself looks more like an eggplant, and the fruit are the size of cherry tomatoes with caps kind of like tomatillos. It is very sweet in flavor, but the plant protects its fruit well with prickles on the caps, stems, and leaves.

We are going to continue to make good use of our cattle panel trellises throughout the garden, and on this trellis we are growing one melon and one squash. The melon, ‘Lambkin,’ is a type of melon called “Piel de Sapo” or “skin of the frog.” Sounds appetizing, right? Actually, I had one of these melons at a farmers market in Rochester, MN a couple summers ago, and it was incredibly sweet with an interesting floral flavor. I’m excited for us to grow it here! The squash we had originally selected was a tricolor acorn squash, but we are already on plan B for that one…tentatively we are going to try ‘Fairy’ Squash, which is a 2 1/2 lb. winter squash that doesn’t seem to readily fit into any of the normal winter squash categories.

So those are some of the different things we’re trying this year…are you trying anything new or unique in your garden this year?


Friday PhotoEssay: A Look Back at 2009

Last week I finally finished uploading all of the 2009 Demo Garden photos to Flickr. I have to say…the vibe from those pictures is much different than you get from looking at a lot of the 2011 pictures! I thought I would share some of my favorite pictures from that year, since I got to enjoy them again as I was uploading them. To see all the 2009 pictures, click here.

We overwintered this radicchio from 2008, and this is what it looked like just after Valentine’s Day in 2009! Still one of my all-time favorite Demo Garden pictures.

I think all of the radishes we planted in 2009 were Easter Egg Mix Radishes. At least, all the pictures I took were of them.

2009 was the year of the cherry tomato! We had them coming out our ears. This bowl was one of the first harvests in early July.

This was the year we had a full bed of zinnias. The flowers were extremely photogenic, even if the rest of the plants weren’t particularly beautiful.

We got lots of rain in 2009, and the garden was lush and full of insects. This big grasshopper was one of my favorites, but there are lots of pictures of spiders, grasshoppers, butterflies, and other bugs in the archive.

Fall 2009 was the season of beautiful Bok Choy. And rain, as you can see. I think that was the season that our Bok Choy looked its absolute best. The weather was perfect with no insects and no bolting.

Since 2009 was the year before our raspberries succumbed to Phytophthora Root/Crow Rot, the berries were large, luscious, and still ripening in November!

Doesn’t looking back at some pictures of a really good gardening year make you a little more excited for this year?

Have a great weekend!