Monthly Archives: March 2023

2023 Demo Garden Bed Plans

Since we just started planting the Demonstration Garden this week, it seemed like it was time to actually share our garden plans for the year! We continue to battle root knot nematodes in the soil of our beds, so many of our garden plans are with those management plans in mind.

If you came out to the garden at all last year, you probably noticed our rebuilt entry beds. We went simple with them last year, but this year we plan to take full advantage of the trellis/pergola to grow some Cypress Vine and Blue Butterfly Pea Vine. We have also located our herbs and pollinator plants out there as well. We are hoping for an attractive and welcoming display in the parking lot!

Our Bed 1 theme this year is “Stir Fry Garden,” so we went with a range of vegetables that you might look for to do some sort of stir fry dish – some more traditional than others! We have some cabbage, Chinese stem broccoli, and bok choy, as well as carrots, onions, radishes, and spinach. In the center tiers we will have green snow peas and purple sugar snap peas, as well as parsley and cilantro.

This bed is also slated for nematode management, so once all these crops are harvested in June, we will be solarizing this bed to reduce the nematode populations for the remainder of the summer, followed by a late summer/fall cover crop of sunn hemp. (No, it isn’t that kind of hemp – it is a nematode-suppressing, nitrogen-fixing legume!)

I’m going to jump to Bed 5 – which rounds out our Stir-Fry theme with some spring Brassicas. We have red and green cabbage, purple and green broccoli, and purple and white cauliflower. I sense a pattern…! The Burgundy Broccoli is actually a sprouting broccoli that will have lots of smaller side shoots rather than a large head. Because the insect pressures have been so awful the last few years, we are trying out a full covering of insect netting to keep the cabbageworms and loopers off the plants. This bed will also be finished for the year in June to allow for the solarization and cover crops as explained above.

Bed 2 continues to be our only bed without any nematodes that we know of, so we are using the other half of it as our tomato “control” again this year. We will discuss tomatoes in more detail when we get to Bed 6. The other half of the bed will be Edible Flowers (with also some peas and birdhouse gourds). We have a mix of spring flowers, herbs, and a few later summer flowers that will be featured in this garden.

While we do some sort of trellising or vertical gardening each year, it has been several years since we have had a dedicated vertical garden bed. We are getting a little more creative with our trellising this year, using two of the cattle panel trellises in the traditional way, one that is arched over the walkway between beds 2 and 3, and two that are on their sides to create flat trellises for shorter vining crops. We are also getting a little more creative with our planting times – rather than planting all the warm season vines in May, some of them will be planted a bit later as the peas finish, which will hopefully spread out our harvests a bit more. And to squeeze a few more things in, we are planting lettuce and onions under, around, and between the trellises!

Continuing with our nematode management theme, Bed 4 is a selection of different crops that have some amount of nematode resistance. The lettuce and spinach aren’t specifically resistant, but early spring crops don’t typically see as much damage. Leeks and sweet corn, as monocots, tend not to be host plants for nematodes as readily as broadleaf plants. We are doing a little bit of “plant partnering” with interplanting some vining southern peas that have nematode resistance. The last part of the planting is the three sweet potato varieties, that all have nematode resistance. The spring crops will go through mid-May or mid-June, before being followed with the second planting.

As we saw earlier with Bed 2, we are splitting our tomato plantings again this year. We are also continuing with the nematode-resistant theme for the garden. Since we solarized this bed last year, we are hoping that the nematode population is minimal or gone, but we are still playing it safer. We have two varieties – Green Zebra and Genuwine – that do not have nematode resistance. These will be our “control” varieties to see if we get nematode activity after the treatment last year. The other four varieties have nematode resistance. This will help keep the population (if any) of nematodes in that garden low. We are also reprising the two basils we had last year, simply because they were pretty amazing varieties and we thought we might as well keep them going.

I’m not going to go into all the details on the tomatoes, but just a quick summary:

  • Green Zebra – an open-pollinated “heirloom-type” tomato that is green with dark green stripes and a yellow blush at maturity. Not nematode resistant.
  • Genuwine – another “heirloom-type” that is a cross between Brandywine and Costoluto Genovese. Not nematode resistant.
  • Edox – a red, cluster-type cherry tomato that has nematode resistance.
  • Tough Boy Gold – a relatively new yellow hybrid that has nematode resistance.
  • Goliath Original – as is says, the original of the Goliath series, large red slicer type, with nematode resistance.
  • Granadero – a roma/paste tomato with nematode resistance. We had this one in our Latin American garden last year, and it performed well, so we thought it deserved a full try to see if it performed as well a second time.

In the accessible garden spaces, we are leaving the chocolate mint in place for another season. The center section will have a spring planting of kohlrabi, followed by some short ‘Short Stuff’ sunflowers for the summer. The right section currently has spinach that was overwintered, and will be replanted with some snack pepper plants come May.

The remainder of the accessible garden beds – the salad table will have lettuce and radishes this spring. We are replacing it with a deeper table, so maybe there will be a home for some leftover peppers this summer. The barrel planter still has chives, and the tower garden will once again have a mixture of leafy greens, herbs, and flowers.

The containers around the garden will have a mixture of vegetables and flowers. We have chosen a few pepper varieties to go in some of the larger containers: Habanada, Slovana, Sweet Nibbler Red, Sweet Nibbler Yellow, Mocha Swirl, Born-to-be-Mild Jalapeno, and Pot-a-peno Jalapeno. We will have to compact tomato varieties in a couple of the largest pots: Bush Champion II and Little Bing. And in the large smart pot in the shade we will have some ginger plants.

Other News: If you made it all the way to the bottom of this lengthy post, I have some other news to share. I have been writing this block as part of my position here at the Sedgwick County Extension office for 13 years now – although much less frequently the last several years. I have accepted a new position with K-State Extension, and will be leaving this job and hence this blog behind. I don’t know if the new agent hired in will be interested in continuing the blog or even maintaining its existence – that will be for them to decide. I’m going to guess that I may get around to at least one more post before I’m gone, but I won’t guarantee it. A big thank you to everyone that is still hanging around and following this blog. I have enjoyed learning and sharing with you!