Monthly Archives: March 2015

Video Wednesday: Maximizing Your Garden Space

If you haven’t already got your garden planned for this year, here is a video that talks about maximizing your garden space:

2015 Garden Plans: Bean Garden

Our third raised bed is going to feature beans this year. In case you haven’t noticed, each garden bed is focused on one (or maybe two) specific types of vegetables this year. We’re hoping this keeps things a little simpler for us in the garden and also gives us some really good information on comparing different varieties.

Bed 3

We are planning both a spring and fall planting of beans. We are also going to try two different pole bean varieties. Our intention with the pole beans is to plant them in the spring and let them go until they vines look horrible. Then we will replant for the fall with the same varieties. This is because pole beans don’t often do very well for us, but the Master Gardeners that said they had been productive had planted them for fall rather than in the spring. We’ll wait and see how it pans out!

When we chose the bean varieties we tried to choose a range of colors and types. So, we have green, purple, yellow, and striped beans. We also have regular snap beans, filet (skinny/smaller) beans, and romano/flat beans.

‘Contender’ – green snap bean, 40 days to maturity

‘Golden Rod’ – yellow snap bean, 53 days to maturity

‘Velour’ – purple filet bean, 51 days to maturity

‘Dragon Tongue’ – green with purple stripes, flat podded, 57 days to maturity

‘Jade II’ – green snap bean, 60 days to maturity

‘Blue Lake Pole’ – green snap pole bean, 66 days to maturity

‘Carminat’ – purple snap pole bean, 62 days to maturity

‘Provider’ – green snap bean, 50 days to maturity

‘Masai’ – green filet bean, 55 days to maturity

‘Romano Gold’ – yellow flat podded bean, 50 days to maturity

‘Amethyst’ – purple snap bean, 56 days to maturity

‘Carson’ – yellow snap bean, 52 days to maturity

Friday PhotoEssay – March 13, 2015

I guess it is about time to start on Friday PhotoEssays for the year! There isn’t much going on yet, but there are a few things to share. I will say that the Friday PhotoEssay posts may be a little few and far between this spring, as I’m planning to be out of the office more often than not. We may end up doing PhotoEssays whenever they come rather than on Friday!

The garden looks very much like it did last fall after we finished up, which is fine.

We have lettuce seedlings up and growing inside though! They are already looking a little bit stretchy. I’m tempted to put them outside, but I think they are a bit too small yet. Next week for sure!

I had left a few of these ‘Deep Purple’ bunching onions outside last fall when the first cold spell hit, completely unprotected. I wanted to see what would happen, and I thought they were completely dead. Deader than dead. But I was wrong! It is always amazing to me how resilient plants can be!

And now, a Tale of Three Spinach Plantings:

This spinach was planted fairly late last fall. I think early October? It was really small when the cold weather hit, so I didn’t even bother covering it. This spinach has had NO protection all winter. It is now a nice size and lush. Very little signs of damage.

This spinach was planted at about the same time as the previous picture, although perhaps a week earlier. It was larger last winter, and we ended up putting the cold frame over it. The cold frame was kept closed all winter until late last week. Again, this spinach looks great!

This spinach was the largest last fall, and had been harvested a couple times already. I put it under the row cover for the first couple cold spells, but then took it off and left it off for the rest of the winter. There are also two different varieties. The one on the right is ‘Giant Winter’ and the one on the left is ‘Donkey.’ It isn’t as obvious in the picture as in person, but the ‘Donkey’ spinach looks a lot better. I’m curious as to whether being under the row cover early resulted in these plants being more susceptible to cold injury later or if it is simply the fact that the plants were larger when the cold hit. Because clearly, the earlier picture of completely unprotected spinach shows no damage. However, those plants were much younger and smaller all winter. I think they have put on a lot of growth in the last couple weeks. It would also have been interesting to see what these plants would have looked like if they had been harvested heavily at some point during the winter.

Overwintering vegetables sometimes causes more questions than answers!

On a completely different topic, I would like to point you all toward a blog post by one of our Master Gardeners, Cynthia Abbot: Tolerating the Uglies, Take 2. I know you are probably not thinking about blister beetles on your tomatoes yet, but you should read her post on the subject and tuck it away for later this summer!

Have a great weekend!

2015 Garden Plans: Vertical Garden

Our Vertical Garden this year could be one of the most interesting parts of the garden, or it could be a trainwreck of insects and diseases! Why? Because we are planting an entire bed of squash.

The two biggest challenges to growing squash in Kansas are squash vine borers and squash bugs. If you’ve tried growing squash, you have probably lost 1, 2, or all your plants to one or the other at some point. One of the things I found while researching is that there are different species of squash, and the most common species that we grow are highly susceptible to these insects. There are two other species that are less susceptible/somewhat resistant to squash vine borers and squash bugs. So for our Vertical Garden this year, we selected 10 varieties of squash/pumpkins that are supposedly more resistant to these troublesome insects. It will be exciting to see how things shake out and which varieties are truly less susceptible.

Bed 2 (2)

‘Tromboncino’ and ‘Tutume’ are both squashes that are typically grown and harvested at the “zucchini” stage. There are no true zucchinis that are less susceptible, so we are trying these. ‘Tromboncino’ is a very long, Italian variety. ‘Tatume’ is a Mexican variety that is round.

‘Butterpie’ and ‘Fairy’ are both hybrid squashes that are going to have some similarities in flavor to butternut and buttercup squash. We grew ‘Fairy’ in 2012 and had no insects on it to speak of, and the vine was huge and vigorous with great flowers for stuffing.

‘Green Striped Cushaw’ is a Southern heirloom that is going to test the strength of our trellises, as they can be anywhere from 7-25 lbs. ‘Black Futsu’ is a Japanese variety that is supposed to have a rich, hazelnut flavor.

‘Hunter’ Butternut is just what it sounds like – a hybrid butternut squash. Most butternut squashes will be more resistant to insects than other types of squash. ‘Chiriman’ is another Japanese variety with dark green, lobed rinds and sweet, dark orange flesh.

‘Thai Kang Kob’ is a Thai variety that is pumpkin-shaped and good for curries. ‘Kikuza’ is another Japanese variety that has dry flesh and a spicy flavor.

As you can imagine, we are looking forward to watching all these different squashes develop and find ways to taste test them all!