Monthly Archives: March 2016
We had our first workday in the garden this week, and hence our first photo tour of the garden today. We worked hard, between the Compost crew and the Demo Garden crew. We added compost to our garden beds as fast as our Composters emptied the bins and screened the compost!
We refilled almost all of the beds to a full level. We had one bed that still had straw from last year, so we added compost and then turned it all under, adding a little nitrogen fertilizer to help the straw break down faster.
Look at that awesome compost!
Our lettuces that we started just 4 weeks ago were ready to be planted outside, even though the forecast was for cold and wind. The cold temperatures actually help make the red lettuces a darker color. (The wind just makes everything look battered until they adapt to it!)
We planted them into the quilt block beds, using bamboo stakes to mark out the pattern. I’m looking forward to seeing how these beds look once they are filled in.
We also planted the purple cabbage, purple snow peas, purple kohlrabi, more red/purple lettuces, and purple radishes in the K-State Purple garden.
Last but not least, we had a group inside planting our pepper and eggplant seeds that will be planted outside in early May! They are now living under the lights in my office, waiting to germinate.
Here is the picture of the whole garden for this week. I know you can’t see much, but the weeds are gone and the beds are full of soil and compost!
We’ve had strawberries in this garden for the past couple of years, but this year we are going to remove them and shift our flowers/herbs/pollinators garden to this garden bed.
Most of these are plants that we’ve had for several years in one form or another, either in this garden or elsewhere on our grounds. (We just couldn’t resist planting the flowering sages again – especially the purple-flowering Mexican Bush Sage that is one of the highlights of the garden each fall.) The main difference this year is the Passionflower. It will be fun to watch it grow, and it has such neat flowers! We have also selected a wide variety of plants that caterpillars prefer (fennel, parsley, and milkweed) so we are feeding pollinators at all stages of growth.
In 2010, we did an Asian garden and in 2013 we did an Indian (Asia) garden. This year we wanted to reprise the theme while focusing on specifically southeast Asian / Chinese / Japanese vegetables.
As you can see, we have yet another garden with lots of different varieties and lots of complexity going on. Many oriental vegetables are cool season, which means they are either planted in the spring or fall (or both), which allows us to try many more varieties in one growing season.
1-5. We have a selection of herbs common in Asian cooking. FYI – Flowering Chinese Leek is just another name for Garlic Chives!
6. ‘Ladyfinger’ Okra is supposed to be smooth and tender even at larger sizes.
7. ‘Round Purple’ Eggplant is just that – a round, purple variety.
8. ‘Choryoku’ Eggplant is a long, narrow green variety.
9. ‘Fushimi’ pepper is a thin-skinned sweet Japanese pepper.
10. Winged bean is a variety that produces pea-like pods but with winged edges. It’s hard to describe, so you’ll just have to wait and see it!
11. ‘Tokita Scarlet’ Carrot is a red carrot variety.
12. ‘Hybrid Fuji’ kohrabi is a large, green variety.
13. ‘Hakurei’ Turnip is a white, salad-type turnip that is good for eating raw.
14. ‘Summer Top’ Cucumber is a burpless, oriental variety that produced 9-10″ long cucumbers and has good disease resistance.
15. ‘Purple Red Mart’ Long Bean is a long bean that will grow on a trellis and produce 15-18″ beans that are purple in color. We were especially interested in this variety because they are supposed to turn black when cooked. Yum!
16-18. Mizuna and Mustards – the mizuna is purple-veined to purple leaved (not pure seed lot) and the mustards are very finely frilled varieties that are a bit spicy and good for salads.
19. ‘Dok Hybrid’ Luffa is a luffa gourd that can also be eaten like a zucchini at the immature stage.
20. ‘Hybrid Golden Honey’ Melon is a yellow-skinned melon with floral white flesh.
21. ‘Green Lance’ Chinese Broccoli is not a head forming type of broccoli, but rather one that has lots of smaller shoots.
While it may seem like there are some strange things in this garden, many of them are similar to other plants we have grown in the past, so I’m pretty confident in their productivity. I will be honest that I’m already plotting what recipes I can try with all these vegetables though!
Finally, the garden bed that many of you have been waiting to see…the tomatoes! Tomatoes are easily the most popular garden vegetable, and most visitors to our garden want to see how our tomatoes are doing.
We don’t have a theme for the tomatoes this year, other than trying to have a range of varieties showcased.
We do, however, have a few different caging / staking / trellising methods planned. As you may have noticed in the Bed 2 plans and again with this bed, we will be featuring one of our A-frame trellises over the walkway again this year. We are also growing a couple other tomatoes on a trellis in the bed. Then we have a determinate tomato in a cage, and the remainder of the varieties (both determinate and indeterminate) using the stake & weave system with metal posts and twine.
Trellises: On the trellises we are growing some cherry / saladette type tomatoes.
‘Verona’ is a variety that is similar to ‘Juliet’ but is reputed to be slightly larger and more flavorful.
‘Esterina’ is a gold cherry tomato that has high yields and good crack resistance.
‘Lucky Tiger Cherry’ is an elongated, green-striped cherry tomato with a red blush. It has a sweet-tart flavor.
Caged Determinate: ‘Early Doll’ is an early maturing (55 days) variety with 4-5 oz. fruit.
Stake & Weave: We are showcasing several different types that will demonstrate how the system works for different sized plants. We are planting two of each variety.
‘Beefy Boy’ is a red, hybrid beefsteak that we had in the garden last year. It yielded well, but had some cracking issues. 12-16 oz. fruit. Indeterminate.
‘Tiren’ is an Italian hybrid that is similar in shape to the heirloom San Marzano, but is earlier and higher yielding. 5-6 oz. fruit. Indeterminate.
‘Goliath Original’ is a highly disease resistant hybrid with 10-15 oz. red fruit. Indeterminate.
‘Orange Slice’ is an orange colored beefsteak with fruit up to 16 oz. Indeterminate.
Our second garden bed this year is featuring things purple. I think the name that has waffled between “K-State Purple Garden” and “For the Love of Purple” garden. At any rate, we are growing and eating purple plants!
As you can see, we have gone a little bit crazy trying to fit as many different purple plants into the garden as possible. (Full disclosure – there are a couple things that are white too, just to highlight the K-State-ness of it and to help show the purple better!)
The garden plan pictured above is not the final plan, just a temporary plan to make sure we have space for everything. We hope to rearrange the plants into a more ornamental-edible garden before we are ready to plant.
1 & 2: ‘Cardinal’ Basil has attractive purple flower heads while ‘Aromatto’ basil has purple stems, flower bracts, and purple-green foliage.
3 & 8. ‘Goodwin Creek’ and ‘Otto Quast’ Lavenders both bloom purple the first growing season. We grow these varieties as annuals here.
4 & 6. ‘Benary Giant Purple / White’ Zinnias are the most common cutflower zinnia. We’ll have both purple and white varieties.
5. ‘Dara’ Ammi is actually a falsa Ammi that is a carrot. But this carrot doesn’t often develop a good root and does bloom readily with a range of white to purple flowers.
7. Vinca and Gomphrena will add some more purple flowers to the mix.
9. ‘Integro’ is a red / purple cabbage with medium sized heads.
10. ‘Kolibri’ is a purple, hybrid kohlrabi.
11. ‘Ip Ssam Hong’ is a purple chinese cabbage that doesn’t form solid heads.
12. ‘Amethyst’ is a spring radish with purple skin and white flesh.
13. ‘Thurinus’ lettuce is a dark red/purple romaine that we grew in the garden last year and decided to reprise.
14. ‘Hansel’ Eggplant is an All America Selections winner from 2008 that features small, slender, dark purple fruit that are great for grilling.
15. ‘Gretel’ Eggplant is a 2009 AAS winner that has fruit similar to ‘Hansel’ but white.
16. ‘Islander’ is a bell pepper that has lavender skin which then ripens from yellow to orange to red.
17. Purple Cayenne pepper is just that – a cayenne pepper with purple fruit and a purple tinge to the leaves as well.
18. ‘Purple Star’ is another purple bell pepper. It starts as a dark amethyst purple and ripens to red.
19. ‘Royal Snow’ snow peas are a purple podded snow pea. Most descriptions say that purple podded peas are a little bit bitter, so we will have to try it and report back!
20. ‘Purple King’ pole bean will be planted on the same trellis as the snow peas, but in the mid-late summer for a fall crop. As we discovered last year, fall planted pole beans are much more productive than spring.
21. ‘Black Beauty’ tomato is one of the newer varieties with the very dark purple / “indigo” coloration of the skin. This one is more a slicer size with red interior flesh. This one is purported to have great flavor.
22. ‘Fairy Tale’ eggplant is another AAS winner from 2005. It also has small fruit but with white and purple streaks. We have grown this before, but several years ago.
23. ‘Purple Bumblebee’ tomato is a cherry tomato that is a more traditional purple tomato color – similar to chocolate cherry – but with metallic green stripes.
24. ‘Graffiti’ Cauliflower is a purple-headed cauliflower. It is the only hybrid purple cauliflower, and has by far the best purple coloration of any purple variety. We will be planting this for fall.
25. ‘Rosalind’ Broccoli is a purple-headed broccoli. This will also be fall-planted.
26. ‘Purple 68’ Carrot is a variety that has deep purple coloration all the way to the center of the root. It is best grown in the fall.
27. ‘Da Hong Summer’ is a purple bok choy that is bolt-resistant.
28. ‘Redbor’ Kale is a purple kale that has deeper color the colder it gets in the fall.