Monthly Archives: March 2012

Garden Renovation: Days 6 & 7 – Shade Structure Construction

By the end of last week we had moved firmly into working on the shade structure over the classroom area. Since we are in full-on rain delay at the moment, I thought we should take a look at the progress over the last part of last week.

After all the posts were staked, the contractor outlined the location of the concrete pad for the new demonstration table.

Here’s the pile of lumber that they brought in for the structure. It looks like an awfully small pile!

Aren’t you glad you didn’t have to dig that hole? The thing that is pretty interesting about it is that after you get 4-6″ down, the soil is sandy. That’s the original soil from the site! Hurray for dumping fill clay on top for construction. This is one of the holes for setting the main posts on the shade structure.

Here they are placing the main posts and using the braces and string to make sure everything is where it needs to be.

On Friday, they had all the posts in place, braced, and wrapped. The next step was pouring all the concrete into those holes. Because of the layout, they were bringing it in by wheelbarrow loads. The concrete and posts were left to set over the weekend.

Today, of course, it is raining, so nothing is progressing at the moment. The rain is nice for everyone else, but we really wish it would stop!

Grow Good Food Workshop Presentations & Handouts

For those of you that were not able to attend the Grow Good Food Workshop on Saturday, March 17th OR if you wanted to get another copy of the handouts, everything that I have currently is linked below. I will try to add the few that I am still missing.

9 a.m. – Planning Your Vegetable Garden: Planning Your Vegetable Garden (PDF), Planning Your Vegetable Garden, Planting Guide (PDF); Recommended Vegetable Varieties (PDF)

10 a.m. – Vertical Gardening: Vertical Gardening Presentation (PDF)

10:30 a.m. – Container Vegetable Gardening: Veggies in Containers (PDF);   Publication (PDF)

11 a.m. – Success with Tomatoes: SUCCESS WITH TOMATOES (PDF)

1 p.m. – Growing Strawberries: Growing Strawberries (PDF)

2 p.m. – Fall & Winter Gardening: Winter Gardening Handout (PDF), Mid-Tunnel Prep (PDF)

3 p.m. – Unusual Vegetables & Edibles: Unusual Vegetables & Edibles (PDF)

1 & 2 p.m. – Cooking with Vegetables & Cooking with Herbs: Recipes 2012 (PDF)

3 p.m. – Canning & Preserving the Harvest: Handout (PDF)

Garden Renovation: Days 4 & 5 – Finishing Drainage & Beginning Structure Layout

After the rain on Sunday, we weren’t expecting a whole lot of activity on Monday. We were surprised!

The crew put down big sheets of plywood to walk and drive wheelbarrows on so they could continue putting down the gravel over the drain lines.

Yet another example of why we need the drainage lines. This trench didn’t have the drain line in it yet when it rained over the weekend.

The contractor that will be building our classroom shade structure was also out here on Monday getting the positions for the posts marked.

From the other side, you can see the solid white drain pipe that will carry the water away from the classroom area and the raised beds.

The drain lines are finished! The white PVC pipes sticking up are the irrigation lines for the raised beds. They piled the extra dirt from the trenches through the middle of where the raised beds will be. It is interesting, because you can see that the top 3-6″ was nasty compacted clay, but the soil from below that is a fairly sandy soil. Probably a sandy clay loam. We will probably haul out the big chunks of compacted clay and then spread the rest of the soil for the bottom of the raised beds. There will also be a couple more inches of gravel that will go over the whole walkway area once the beds are in place. Then the gravel will be covered with mulch.

Garden Renovation: Days 2 & 3 – Layout and Beginning Drainage Work

On Tuesday, the next step in our garden renovation began. Before anything else could be done, it was necessary to mark where all the drain lines and beds were going to be.

There were lots and lots of little green flags all over the garden that marked the edges of the raised beds. I’m impressed that those flags survived the wind!

There’s another look at those flags.

This gives you a good visual of just how hard the dirt is out there and what they had to do to get those flags in. Yikes!

Day 3 – Starting the Drainage Work

Before digging, the crew went through and replaced all those flags with painted lines. Much easier to dig around paint than those pesky flags.

The next step was getting the trenches dug for the drainage. This was absolutely the right tool for the job. The ground was rock hard.

They made quick work of those trenches. It makes it look so easy!

Once the trenches were in place, it was time to start putting in the drain pipes. First they put in the filter fabric, then the flexible drain pipe with the sock on it.

Then it all gets covered with gravel to facilitate the movement of the water to the drain line. This one wasn’t quite finished when I took the picture.

On the southern edge of the garden, there is solid drain pipe that drains to this new cut in the sidewalk, which will be fitted with a grate over it.

That’s as far as the crew got on Days 2 & 3, because as we all know, this is Kansas, and weather happens.

Garden Plans for 2012: Vertical Garden

Except for the annual & perennial herb gardens and the areas with flowers, this is the end of our garden plans for 2012. As I am writing this post, the Ditch Witch is making quite a racket outside my window digging out where the drain lines will go.

This is our second year of doing a “vertical” garden of trellises. We will be using the same cattle panel trellises that we used last year. While we probably could have fit 6 trellises into the garden, we decided to stick with only 5 so that there is more space to get between the trellises to work.

We also originally planned that this garden would be to trial a bunch of different cucumbers. However, we decided that a whole garden of cucumbers was likely to be a little much. So, we ended up with half the garden planted to cucumbers and the other half to a mixture of squashes, melons, and pumpkin.


We chose to grow 2 types of long, slicing cucumbers, 2 types of mini snack cucumbers, and 1 pickling type. (The Family of 4 Garden is also trying another type of pickling cucumber, so we decided that would be our comparison with our pickler.)

The two slicing types are ‘Suhyo Cross’ and ‘Sweet Success.’ If you’ve been following the blog for a couple years, you might remember that we grew ‘Suhyo Cross’ in the Asian Garden 2 years ago. It was extremely productive, but the fruit were a bit ugly because we didn’t use a trellis that year. ‘Sweet Success’ is an older All America Selection that has an excellent flavor, although the cucumbers aren’t always the most beautiful, uniform shape. I’ve grown it before, but we haven’t had it in the garden here.

The two mini snack cucumbers are ‘Cucino’ and ‘Rocky.’ Both produce cucumbers that are 3-6″ long at maturity with thin skins. Both varieties are new to the garden and to me. ‘Rocky’ is seedless and doesn’t need pollination. It is also supposed to be an early and prolific producer.

Our pickling cucumber is ‘Salt & Pepper,’ which is a white cucumber with black spines. It is definitely our “novelty” cucumber for the year. We will be comparing it to ‘Homemade Pickles’ in the Family of 4 Garden.


We chose two winter squashes for the garden, ‘Pinnacle’ Spaghetti Squash and ‘Sunshine’ Kabocha Squash. The spaghetti squash variety is supposed to be a “personal sized” squash, weighing in at about 3 lbs. The kabocha squash is a bright orange-red that almost looks like a pumpkin. It will be a little larger at 3-5 lbs each. The vine is supposedly a “short vine” compared to some squash, but it should still do well on the trellis.


Neither of the two melons are average cantaloupe this year. (We will be reprising the ‘Tasty Bites’ cantaloupe in the Mexican Garden.) The Kazakh melon is an heirloom that I have grown in the past. It is a small, yellow-skinned melon that has very sweet, floral, white flesh. The ‘Honey Orange’ Honeydew Melon is an orange-fleshed honeydew that I have tasted in the past, and it is also very sweet and flavorful.


We decided to try a pumpkin this year, since they don’t have to be any larger than squashes or melons. (No, we’re not going to try a giant pumpkin on a trellis!) ‘Lil’ Pump-ke-mon’ is a small novelty pumpkin that could be used for decorating or eating. The pumpkins are about 5″ in diameter and 3″ high, with white and orange stripes.