Monthly Archives: March 2013

Friday PhotoEssay

Another Friday is here! There is no sign of germination where we planted seeds last week, so I’m beginning to get a little concerned. I haven’t done a great job of keeping the soil moist, but then it was covered with snow for part of the last week. I’m hoping that it is just the cold weather (keeping the soil cold) that is delaying germination of the typically quick-germinating radishes. It is so weird to have a late spring!

Here’s a quiz for you…how doe you tell if what you are seeing is grass or garlic or shallots? This picture isn’t too difficult to distinguish, but when the garlic or shallots are smaller it can be a real challenge! The garlic leaves usually feel thicker and waxier to me than grass, and of course, they smell like garlic too!

The rhubarb crown they planted a couple weeks ago is starting to slooooowly put on some growth. I could be wrong, but I think these leaves look like they got a little more cold than they would have preferred.

Speaking of cold, the lettuce and chard in our cold frame got a little more cold than they would have strictly preferred this week, since we left the cold frame completely open when it got so cold earlier this week. Somewhat surprisingly, they really don’t look that much the worse for wear!

This is the obligatory “before” picture. Rumor has it that we are going to be starting work on this shade garden this week. If nothing else, the compost has to move from the parking lot into the garden, since the farmers’ market is starting a week from tomorrow!

My light stand looks like a forest of plant labels right now! By next Friday I hope it will look like a forest of small tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants!

Have a great weekend!

Hot Ham and Noodles

A cheesy and satisfying casserole for leftover Easter Ham!  Round out with a green vegetable and milk!

4 servings
2 cups cooked egg noodles
1 cup cooked ham, diced
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can (10.75 ounce) condensed cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup low fat milk (fill soup can 1/2 full)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour mixture into a 9X9- inch pan or
a 2 1/2 to 3 quart casserole dish that has been lightly coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

This casserole can be cooked in the microwave. Use a microwave-safe dish. Cover and
microwave on medium power (50%) for 8-9 minutes; stir. Microwave uncovered on
medium until hot and bubbly, 3 to 4 minutes more.

Variations: Add any of the following – peas and carrots, leftover vegetables, onions, zucchini or peppers.

Nutrition Facts: One 1 cup serving provides 310 calories, 14g total fat, 60mg cholesterol,
1180mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrate

Saturday Samplers

I know I’ve teased you and hinted at the Saturday Samplers programs a couple of different times and I keep forgetting to write a blog post about them.

This series is a way for you to come get a free “sample” of our gardening and cooking programs this summer! One Saturday a month we will be meeting at 9 a.m. in the Demonstration Garden at the Sedgwick County Extension Education Center (21st St N & Ridge Rd) to feature growing and cooking a different vegetable or herb. Participants will learn cooking and nutrition tips, timely gardening tips, and get a tour of the demonstration garden.

All Saturday Samplers are free and no registration is required. The Kansas Grown! Farmers’ Market will be going on in the parking lot, so participants are encouraged to  plan accordingly.


April 6 – Grow Your Own Salad

May 4 – Herb Day

June 8 – Garlic & Shallots

July 13 – Beyond Basic Basil

July 27 – Tomato Day

August 17 – Eggplant

September 21 – Fall Root Vegetables

Topics may be subject to change due to what is happening in the garden, so watch the blog for updates as we get going!

Why We Research Before Planting Something New

Or why we set ourselves up for failure when trying to start new things from seed. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

This morning we did our major bunch of seed starting for the Demo Garden this year. That involved a bunch of tomato seeds, a few peppers, a couple herbs, and more varieties of eggplant than any reasonable person should plant. (That would be 7 different varieties!)

The first task….filling the pots with soil. We use a basic, soilless potting mix. I never spring for the more expensive “seed starting mixes,” although I do only use a mix that doesn’t already have fertilizer incorporated. I also recommend that you fill your pots with soil all the way to the brim and very gently pack it down. Don’t press hard, but you want to make sure you don’t have any air pockets in the pot. By filling them all the way to the top, you will have some space once the soil compacts during watering and you guarantee that all the pots have the same amount of soil. Why is that important? Because then they should all need watering at the same time, rather than some drying out faster than others.

The next step (if you didn’t do it already) is to write out your labels and stick them in the pots. We put one label in each pot, because things do get moved around a bit throughout the spring, and I hate having unknown plants. It also makes it really easy to make sure you are planting the right seeds in the right pot and that you have enough of each.

Then the fun part! Planting the seeds. I’m a stickler about one seed per pot (as long as the seeds are fairly easy to handle and only get one per pot). We usually only need one or two plants of each variety in the Demo Garden, so we plant extra pots rather than planting extra seeds in each pot. This year we only need one tomato plant of each variety, but we planted three. One of the extra is just in case germination is poor and the other extra is just in case something goes wrong when we transplant. Because a lot of our varieties aren’t available as plants locally, if we were to only plant one pot, we would be in trouble if something happened.

We don’t currently have a good watering can with a fine mist ability, so we have been using the spray attachment on the sink in the response center to thoroughly wet down our pots after seeding.

I now have six and a half flats of seeds under my lights in my office. And one 4-cell pack in the refrigerator.

Oh yeah, I was going to tell you about that.

You see, one of the things we were going to plant was this ‘Candy’ Stevia. Why wasn’t ordinary stevia good enough? Well, this variety is supposed to have 4″ long by 2″ wide leaves! Huge! So we’re getting ready to plant, and I turn the seed packet over to check the planting depth and read this:

Well then. Can you explain to me why the seeds need light to germinate, but then it is recommended to cover them with either loose mulch or put them in a refrigerator? Any why didn’t the catalog give me any warning about the crazy germination requirements?!? (It lists the “ease of germination” as “Moderate” and says that the seeds can be planted “anytime.” Yeah, right. Just it might be months before anything germinates. OR MAYBE TWO WHOLE WINTERS OF COLD!!! Couldn’t they put the seeds in the freezer for a year and sell me pre-cold treated seeds?

Anyway, we dutifully put the seeds on top of the soil and then gently watered them in. I put the cell pack in a plastic bag and then put it in the refrigerator. We’ll see how long it takes for me to get annoyed with it and throw it away.

And that is Why We Research Before Planting Something New.

Handouts from the 2013 Grow Good Food Workshop

If you missed out on the Grow Good Food Workshop this past Saturday (or if you had to leave early), here are the handouts for you to download. They are all PDFs, and some of the files are pretty larges, so be warned!

Vegetable Gardening from the Ground Up 2013 Revised

Growing a Garden in Heat and Drought

Organic Pest Control

Grow Your Own Salad

Starting Seeds Under Lights

Fruit Trees for Small Spaces

Cooking with Fresh Vegetables & Herbs

Food Preservation 2013