Monthly Archives: July 2012

Family of 4 Harvest Update

Yesterday was just a zoo here at the Demo Garden (and in the office!), so I didn’t have a chance to update you on our Family of 4 garden harvests.

Let’s just say that the ‘Homemade Pickles’ cucumbers are not lagging anymore! They weighed in at 12.5 lbs yesterday, and I could probably find more today if I wanted to dig around in the cucumber vines. Ugh.

Cucumbers = 12.5 lbs @ $1.00/lb = $12.50

Zucchini (green & gold) = 20.25 lbs @ $1.50/lb = $30.38

Weekly Total = $42.88

Year to Date = $54.01

(Just in the interest of full disclosure, I did add $10 beyond what I’ve already reported this year, just because we’ve had a couple weeks of zucchini and a few cucumbers that didn’t get added in the way they should have.)

Just for fun, I looked back to see where we were at in previous years in the Family of 4 Garden.

July 20, 2010 – $163.86

July 19, 2011 – $163.39

Given last summer being so atrocious, it’s kind of surprising that there was only 47 cents difference between the two years at this point. Of course, in both years we had a lot of spring vegetables. Last year, after recording $163.39 on July 19th, we didn’t break $170 until September 6th!  In 2010, we were over $215 by that point.

This year, our expectations are going to have to be different. First of all, we planted in mid-May, losing all opportunity for spring vegetables. Second, our Family of 4 Garden is only about 4′ x 14′, as opposed to the 4′ x 25′ that we have had in the past. Then, with the beans and tomatoes affected by some herbicide damage, we had to pull the beans and the tomatoes are not very strong. At this point, we are pretty much going to be running with cucumbers and zucchini for the year! We’ll get some fall things planted in another month, hopefully, but it may be a challenge to get to $150 this year.

Friday PhotoEssay

We are somehow back to Friday and ready for another Friday PhotoEssay. There have been some interesting developments in the garden this week.

For instance, the Jicama has FINALLY started sending out tendrils. We soaked the seeds and planted them inside what seems like eons ago, and then we transplanted them in mid-May with everything else. They had some pretty severe transplant shock, and for weeks have been sitting and not growing much. All of a sudden, it is actually starting to send out vining tendrils. They are supposed to get 10-20 feet long, so it will be interesting to see how fast they grow now that they’ve gotten a start.

This is on the ‘Cisineros Grande’ tomatillo plant. We actually have 4 plants (2 different varieties) this year, and it is amazing how much better they are doing with setting fruit when you follow the recommendations to have more than 1 plant/variety, since they don’t self-pollinate very well. This variety is supposed to be 2-3″ in diameter, hence the big husk that hasn’t split yet.

I guess this PhotoEssay is something of a mini-tour from the Mexican Garden! The squash from the Mexican garden is doing quite well, and it is just so different looking from the normal darker greens and yellows. The round is ‘Ronde de Nice’ and the oblong is ‘Sweet Gourmet.’

A gratuitous ‘Fairy’ squash blossom with the leaves in the background. I warned you that this plant is taking the place of Swiss Chard in my photography this summer.

The ‘Sunshine’ Kabocha squash is doing well and maturing rapidly. It isn’t ripe yet. It should be a bright scarlet at that point. I noticed that one of these walked off on us last weekend. I understand that in an open, public garden, produce will walk away. However, it is really frustrating when people pick unripe produce, because then it is just a waste. I am always tempted to put up some kind of snarky sign, but that probably isn’t in keeping with the welcoming atmosphere!

This is the Cardinal Basil in the Edible Flowers garden. Usually we want to keep the flowers trimmed off to keep the plants producing tender, flavorful leaves. On this variety, we are going for the ornamental characteristic of the flowers. Basil flowers are typically tall, skinny, individual stalks. This is a much more organized cluster, and it should get bigger yet. Now if only that edible hibiscus will hurry up and flower…

Have a great weekend! Head on out to the Sedgwick County Fair in Cheney if you are looking for something to do!

Touring the “New & Unique Vegetables” Garden

I keep getting delayed on continuing our tours of the different garden beds this year. By the time I finish all of them, I’ll have to go back and start over, since the plants are growing and maturing so quickly.

Today we’ll take a look at the New & Unique Vegetables Garden. It is one of our smaller beds, so there isn’t as much in it. What it does have is pretty cool though!

I’m sure you are all sick and tired of me posting pictures of the ‘Fairy’ squash. I can’t help it! Since we don’t have Swiss Chard this year, it is the most photogenic plant in the garden at the moment. It is also a very vigorous grower and seems to be quite prolific in flowering and setting squash. The flowers are also huge, and would be great for using as stuffed or fried squash blossoms. Yum!

On the other side of the trellis is the ‘Lambkin’ melon. It is a “piel de sapo” (skin of the frog) type melon. It isn’t ripe yet, so you can see the coloration on the skin, but it doesn’t yet have raised bumps. The two melons that are set right now both have some weird flat spots on them. I am wondering if they didn’t get fully pollinated in the heat.

The Litchi Tomatoes (not a true tomato) are still flowering and growing prickles quite prolifically. They have also started setting fruit, but I haven’t seen any ripening yet.

This ‘White Egg’ eggplant has survived onslaughts of cucumber beetles and eggplant lacebugs, and still looks rather sickly. However, it does have a couple of small, white, egg-shaped eggplants on it.

The ‘Cocozelle’ zucchini isn’t setting heavily yet, and I’m not sure if it is just slow or if we have the plants too thick. (Or maybe some of each?) As you can see, it is a green striped squash.

Next to the ‘Cocozelle’ is this zucchini, called ‘Sunstripe.’ It is a yellow striped squash. This one hasn’t yet been overly productive either.

We do have another eggplant in this bed, ‘Prosperosa,’ but it isn’t yet doing much, since it got planted late. This picture is the ‘Indigo Rose’ tomato, and it was also planted late, and then got zapped with some herbicide injury. It is obviously still not recovering from that, even though it has a few flowers. Luckily, we have another plant over in the 100 gallon Smart Pot that seems to be doing very well.

That’s the “New & Unique Vegetables” garden for this installment. It will be a lot of fun once everything starts getting ripe in this garden.

Video Wednesday: Harvesting Pears

Although it is a touch early for pear season yet, I suspect that we’ll be seeing some pears ripening earlier than usual. I know that I’ve seen a couple trees around town where the pears look like they are getting close to ready to pick. Here’s a video about how to tell when a pear is ready to pick.

Making Pickles

The cucumbers in the Demo Garden aren’t doing nearly as well as I might wish, for some reason. At this point, I think there are probably several contributing factors and no real dominant cause. The ‘Homemade Pickles’ cucumber plants in the Family of 4 Garden have really nice looking plants, but they aren’t yet producing very well. We chose that variety because it is supposed to have high disease resistance and high yields. Of course, as I usually tell folks that call into the Garden Hotline, with the vine crops, all you can really do is wait for them to mature to the point that there are both male and female flowers and let nature take its course! Perhaps I’m just being a bit impatient.

On the other hand, our community garden plot has yielded about 15 lbs of cucumbers so far this year, in a much smaller space, and that was after the cucumber plants got flattened by hail back just after Memorial Day! We are making our first batch of pickles today. (Or rather, my husband is. He’s making old fashioned lime pickles from his grandma’s recipe.) I’ll try to have a couple pictures later this week.