Monthly Archives: April 2014

Friday PhotoEssay – April 25th

We made it to Friday, and we didn’t get more than a few drops of rain. Grr. As much as I don’t appreciate the severe weather in the forecast, we could really use a couple inches of rain. And then a couple more in another week or so. And probably a couple more after that.

As you can see, our Whole Garden view is getting greener, little by little. It helps that the tomato plants are sitting out getting some sun and wind. I almost over-winded them on Wednesday morning. They were looking a little battered by the time I took brought them back in.

The strawberry garden, unfortunately, is the one area that does not seem to be getting greener. Usually bareroot strawberries are pretty easy to grow, so the fact that we have lost about 80% of the plants is not stellar by any means. And it is probably mostly my fault plus the weather. (At home I can blame the rabbits!) When we planted, the soil was incredibly dry, so we worked really hard to get it moist. Then the temperatures were bouncing around and fairly cold overnight. Then I tended to hit the strawberries with water every time I watered the areas we planted seeds. The top inch of the soil dries out quickly and usually needs to be moistened frequently. Strawberries with 4-6″ of roots – not so much. And then it was cold. My guess, without sending in a sample for diagnosis, is that the majority of the plants succumbed to a root rot of some sort that thrives in cold, wet soils. So…we may be on to Plan B for the strawberry garden. I don’t even know what that is right now. I’m sure we’ll figure something out!

The ‘Bloomsdale’ spinach in the MG Faves garden is looking great! At least it likes the cold weather.

And this is the ‘Sagar’ spinach from the Taste of India Garden. It doesn’t look very much like the other spinach, does it? I suspect that it may actually be some type of New Zealand spinach, or at least some significantly different plant that is called spinach in India. This is a good example of why it is a good idea to use (or at least include) the scientific names for plants, especially in a cross-cultural situation. It would be nice to know if it is a different species than we are used to for spinach. It would also have been nice to know before planting, as a New Zealand spinach has slightly different requirements. We could be lucky that we have such a good germination rate!

The ‘French Breakfast’ radishes are looking great and growing fast. It is always nice to have something that is growing well to look at!

Speaking of growing well, this Lacinato Kale that we transplanted in March is really starting to look nice. Now whether it looks tasty…I guess that might be in the eye of the eater!

Have a great weekend!

Planting & Waiting

I really truly meant to write another post or two last week. And then I didn’t. You can always check out the pictures on Flickr to have some idea of what’s going on, although I haven’t even been taking lots of pictures. I realized how busy I’ve been when it was the end of the day yesterday and I hadn’t even done my Monday garden walkthrough! I’m really tempted to promise you that I’ll get a Friday PhotoEssay done this week, but I’m pretty sure that will guarantee that it doesn’t happen.

After canceling our work day last week, we did work this morning and planted a bunch of things.

What we planted today:

  • Quinoa – both the Brightest Brilliant and the Colorado varieties.
  • Italian Borlotto Beans
  • Beananza Green Beans in both the MG Faves Garden and one of the Accessible Gardens.
  • Black Kabouli Chickpeas and Cumin in the Indian Garden
  • Bronze Fennel and Dill in the Herb Garden
  • Lemongrass stalks to root inside for later planting

I had it on my schedule to plant cowpeas today, but the packet said to plant when the soil temps were at least 65 degrees, and we are NOT there yet. Maybe in a couple more weeks.

Here are the Black Kabouli Chickpea (garbanzo) seeds. Of course, they just look like shriveled chickpeas. It will be fun watching the plants grow, even though we’ve already seen the end result.

On a more fun note, we took the tomatoes and peppers outside for the first time today. This is the foliage of the ‘Silvery Fir Tree’ variety. It still looks like a tomato, but it is clearly a little quirky. I had planned to plant tomatoes on Tuesday, May 6th, but the plants are looking so good that we may end up planting next Tuesday instead.  We’ll wait and see!

On another note, I do have all the Yearly Garden Plans pages updated now. Of course, for those of you that read the blog regularly, there’s nothing new to see. If you are new to the blog, that will give you the background on what we’re up to this year.

Oh Ugh, Snow & Cold

You didn’t actually think we were done with winter, did you? I know, I was hoping too. Here in the Wichita area we were greeted with a dusting of snow this morning, and the forecast for overnight low temperatures are ranging from 25-28 degrees.

The difficult thing is that there is a huge difference in the damage you can expect in that range. 28 degrees will cause a little damage to fruit trees in bloom and cool season vegetables. 25 degrees can kill most of the flowers on a fruit tree and cause more severe damage to vegetables.

Of course, if you already have tomatoes, peppers, or other warm season vegetables planted outside, you had better have them covered already. Otherwise, they will probably be dead. Honestly, you would be better off bringing them back inside.

Here in the Demo Garden, we only have cold tolerant things out right now. (Well, except for maybe that poor rhubarb…)  We were planning on planting beans and a few other things tomorrow, but we are going to push that back at least one more week. Beans need warmer soil, and I think that our soil is going to need to warm up again after this weather.

Friday PhotoEssay – April 11th

We didn’t have a work day this week, although a few people did come plant a couple things. We were mostly watching things grow!

I guess there’s not much change from last week. There really is a big change, but you can’t see it from this level. Closer look next!

We trimmed up the thyme and planted a new grape vine this week. We are trying out ‘Himrod,’ which I was very impressed with when one of our Master Gardeners brought in a couple bunches of grapes last summer. This is a green/yellow seedless grape. Of course, it probably won’t have much fruit for a couple years.

One of the Master Gardeners also came and planted a rhubarb crown earlier in the week. Last year our rhubarb died after a cold night, so I hope that doesn’t happen again.

The radishes that were just coming up last week have been growing quickly. Most of them have two “true” leaves already, and with this nice warm weather, they are sure to grow faster.

The strawberries are also continuing to put on new leaves. It looks like there may have been a few casualties, but for the most part the plants are looking healthy!

Speaking of the thyme & grape bed from earlier, you can see that we had some real winners and losers coming through the winter. That vigorous green monolith in the middle is the Rose Scented Thyme. Buried under its left edge is the tiny Spicy Orange Thyme. Next to that, on the left edge of the picture is the dead middle of the Variegated Lemon Thyme. On the right of the Rose Scented Thyme is the plain Lemon Thyme, which also had quite a bit of dieback from the middle of the plant.

Have a great weekend!

Thinning Seedlings

I think that one of the least favorite parts of seed starting for everyone is the process of thinning seedlings. I hate it too! For that reason, I try very hard to only plant one seed per pot. I even plant extra pots “just in case” so that I don’t have to thin or transplant lots of seedlings. Of course, unless you are perfectly dexterous every time with tiny seeds, there are times when you end up with more seeds than you want in one spot.

If you have a couple seedlings in one pot, but on opposite sides, it isn’t the end of the world. They will usually be easy to divide later on if you want to. The hard part is when you have more than one seedling growing from essentially the same spot, like you can see here. When that happens, it is usually best and easier to just snip the two weaker seedlings off right at the soil level.

I KNOW that it is so tempting to just let them be. If you do that, you are ultimately compromising the ability of each individual plant to grow. If you just can’t bear to kill the other seedlings, then you can try to divide and transplant them. The key to this is to do it at this stage, when the seedlings are just starting to put on their first set of true leaves. They have large enough roots to handle it, but not so large that you will cause major damage when you separate the seedlings.

After thinning and a little bit of transplanting this afternoon, I have over 150 tomato seedlings growing in my office! Most of them are the heirlooms we’re going to try out this year, and I can already see differences in plant vigor as the seeds germinate.

So…I know it is hard, but if you have started seeds already, make sure you thin or transplant your extra seedlings soon! Can you believe that in only 2 weeks I will start moving these little guys outside to harden off?