Monthly Archives: September 2013

Friday PhotoEssay

Even with a couple of hotter days this week, I have to confess that I’ve really been enjoying the weather. The cool mornings are the best! Unfortunately, it means that our melons and eggplant have really slowed down. The tomatoes are still going pretty strong.

I think I may show the view of the garden from this angle for a few weeks, at least until we take those cherry tomatoes down off the trellis. The vegetable arbor is kind of blocking the view of the rest of the garden. This way you can see the awesome blue-green color of all the Brassicas. I’m also thinking about doing a “Year in Review” PhotoEssay later this fall. It will be kind of a “time lapse” look at the garden through the whole summer. Look for that in early November, perhaps?

Look at this! I’ve been watching the broccoli and cauliflower closely, expecting that they may start forming heads soon, and this broccoli plant is just now getting started. I kind of thought the two sprouting broccoli varieties might have been earlier, but I guess not.

This cauliflower plant looks like it might be thinking about starting a head in the center. Lots of the newer varieties are self-blanching (meaning the wrapper leaves curl over the heads to help keep them nice and white), and I wonder if that’s what’s going on with these little new leaves in the center.

This savoy, ‘Famosa’ cabbage is starting to form the head in the center. All the cabbage seem to be starting to form heads, although with all the caterpillar damage, I’m not sure how edible they will be! This one seems to have the least damage, maybe because of the ruffly leaves?

I was out at the John C. Pair Horticulture Research Center down in Haysville last night. When we were out in the sweet potato fields, there were tons of toads hopping all over! I managed to get a picture of this one. It’s pretty amazing how well he blends in with the color of the soil!

Have a great weekend!


Vertical Garden Year in Review

Our Vertical Garden area was much smaller this year than the past couple years, but it still yielded some very interesting results. We focused mostly on melons and for the first time found a melon that seems to not adapt to the trellising.

We tried two watermelons, the ‘Little Baby Flower’ red, seeded watermelon and the ‘Yellow Mini Tiger’ seedless watermelon. The ‘Little Baby Flower’ did very well, with lots of melons set that grew well and tasted great. They did crack when we had the rainy spell mid-summer, but that isn’t abnormal. The melons were okay on the trellis, although it was better to tie them up somewhat. It was also easy to identify ripe melons by looking at the nearest tendrils.

The ‘Yellow Mini Tiger’ had problems from the outset. As a seedless variety, we needed to plant the variety seeds and the pollinator seed. The pollinator grew readily, but we had to plant all 10 of the variety seeds to get a single plant growing. That wasn’t an auspicious start! We finally had one plant growing, after a few weeks. As the summer wore on, we had melons set on both the pollinator and the variety vines. Unfortunately, the melons were just large enough and the vines just brittle enough that they kept falling off the vine before they were completely ripe. Maybe we waited too long to try tying them up, but we lost a number of melons to breakage. The vine didn’t set nearly as many melons as the ‘Little Baby Flower’ and we never got a fully ripe melon. So…not so much a winner, at least on the trellis!

The other melon trellis was some more specialty melons, with the ‘Sun Jewel’ Asian melon and the ‘Snow Leopard’ honeydew melon. Both of these melons did relatively well. The honeydew was fairly productive, especially once we got the hang of knowing when they were ripe. It wasn’t as productive as some of the cantaloupe varieties we’ve grown in other years, but was still good. (The ‘Snow Leopard’ honeydew was a white fleshed melon.) The ‘Sun Jewel’ Asian melon was very productive, although it cracked in the rain and then slowed down a lot later in the summer. The thing with the ‘Sun Jewel’ melon is that it is different from what we expect of a melon. I was telling everyone that if you thought of it as a melon, you would be disappointed in the flavor, but that if you expected it to taste like a sweet cucumber it would be enjoyable.

The last part of the Vertical Garden is the vegetable arbor. I’m only going to talk about the two varieties that were on the Vertical Garden side in this post. I’ll save the other two varieties for my discussion of the Kids’ Snack Garden. The ‘Golden Honey Bunch’ cherry tomato and the cucumber were on the Vertical Garden side of the trellis. The cucumber – well, I doubt it was the fault of the individual variety. We just didn’t get it up and growing in a timely fashion. We ended up trying a couple different varieties and still struggled with germination. Not that it mattered…the tomato completely filled the trellis all on its own! The ‘Golden Honey Bunch’ was a real star in the garden this year! The tomatoes tasted great and the production was spectacular.

Friday PhotoEssay

As of writing this post (Thurs. AM), we haven’t gotten a significant amount of rain in the Demo Garden this week. I know some of you in other parts of the area have gotten more. Here’s hoping that we’ll get some good rain either this afternoon or tomorrow!

Yet again, you can see the gradual decline of the tomatoes. I had a conversation with a garden visitor this week, where I told her that I would rather have ugly tomato plants with great tomatoes than pretty plants and no tomatoes! We are also starting to take a few plants out here and there. One of the trellises is completely empty now!

The arugula and Swiss Chard in the pizza garden is just about the perfect size for salads right now, and I would imagine they would also be good on a pizza! Yum!

The fall brassicas garden is growing like crazy, although the caterpillars are still munching like crazy too. Actually, they aren’t as bad at the moment. There is some feeding damage on the new growth, but nothing like it was earlier. And there are still those annoying little white butterflies flitting around. I’ll be happy when I quit seeing them!

You can clearly see the effects of the spider mites on those leaves, but they sure don’t seem to be slowing down the production of these grape tomatoes. After all we harvested on Tuesday, I still got another half gallon of tomatoes today. Yikes! There are also some that I just can’t reach because of the way the tomato cages and vines are intertwined.

This cool looking moth was hanging around the garden this week. I am pretty sure it is a Whitelined Sphinx Moth, which is supposedly the most common sphinx moth in Kansas. Apparently the larvae mostly feeds on weeds. If it lays its eggs on the cabbage, those caterpillars won’t be happy (since we treat for caterpillars), so I hope it was just visiting.

The Lunchbox peppers have been doing pretty well all summer, but they are going crazy now! They are very productive, especially compared to the Yummy peppers we’ve tried in the past.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday Sampler this Saturday!

Our last Saturday Sampler of the year will be this Saturday, September 21st at 9 a.m. here in the Demonstration Garden. We will be featuring fall vegetables in the recipes and discussing fall gardening techniques.

Also – bring your ideas for topics you might like to see next year!

Eggplant Trial In Review

I know this is the post you have all been waiting for breathlessly – the post detailing which eggplant varieties I recommend for planting again. (Hey, I can be unbiased. I just put myself into the mental place where I understand that some people thing planting eggplant regularly is a good idea.)

In reality, the results of the eggplant trial are pretty straightforward. Almost everything did pretty well, and they are still producing now, despite being left to the onslaught of insects for the last month.

Top Performers (Highly Recommended for Planting)

Millionaire – Long, dark purple Asian type. This was the earliest producer and was in clear competition with Green Goddess for highest yielding. The skin was fairly tender.

Green Goddess – Long, green skinned Asian type. This variety was fairly early and very high yielding. It was probably a little higher yielding than Millionaire, but it was hard to keep track. The skin was nice and tender and the flesh had a very sweet, floral scent.

Orient Charm – Long, white and lavender Asian type. This one was more uniformly skinny than the other two, but it also had tender skin and excellent yields.

Good Performers (Recommended for Planting)

Traviata – This is the traditional purple Italian type. It did have a tougher skin than most of the others, but it yielded well and the fruit looked good.

Clara – This was the traditional white Italian type. It did well, although was a little later to start producing. The fruit quality was good and yields were good.

Mediocre Performers (Might be Worth Another Try)

Calliope – This variety started out fairly strong but didn’t maintain good yield throughout the summer. The plants were smaller, so it may just have gotten overshadowed by its larger neighbors. If you want a smaller fruit size, this one might be worth another try.

Rosa Bianca – This heirloom was the lowest yielding of all the varieties and the fruit was definitely an odd shape. If those are concerns for you, then this may not be the best choice.