Category Archives: PhotoEssays

Friday VideoEssay – August 11, 2017

Another Video Essay this week! ​

Friday PhotoEssay – July 28, 2017

We have hit the main harvest season for summer vegetables, even though the spider mites are a severe trial to most of our plants. This seems to be a horrendous year for spider mites, and in a lot of respects, the best we can do is to just wait for cooler weather.

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From the surface, everything looks green and healthy yet, which is nice. You can also see that the Grocery Garden is half empty currently – after harvesting the remaining root vegetables, it is awaiting fall plantings, soon to come!

36087784501_3079efe80bI harvested about 35 tomatoes today, in large part because so many are cracking that we are trying to harvest before they get very ripe. These are nine different Cherokee Purple tomatoes at a range of stages of ripeness. The lower left tomato had fallen off the plant and is hopefully at mature green – meaning it will ripen off the vine eventually. I prefer to wait for color. The other two bottom tomatoes had also fallen off, but have just a tinge of pink. It’s hard to see in the picture due to the light, but they do have small pink streaks at the blossom end. The rest you can see the color change more easily.

36182041256_b9a1c3784dThe ‘Legend’ tomatoes had the most fruit today (17) off of only 3 plants (one plant has a weird virus or mutation and isn’t productive). They are mostly cracked, so still not great from that standpoint.

36182044166_ffe1e27624We are still seeing some rotting tomatoes too. This one is really frustrating, because one tomato started rotting, but we didn’t catch it and remove it. It then infected two more not-yet-ripe tomatoes that might have otherwise been okay. Ugh! Rotting tomatoes are the worst!

36010911962_a73f42f6c1We also harvested our ‘Himrod’ grapes this week. For the second year in a row, our vine has yielded very well, and the grapes taste great, even if they are much smaller than we are used to seeing in the grocery store.

35788277090_9c5c29a090Our melons are also starting to reach ripe stages too. When I checked the tendrils for browning on Tuesday, there were several that looked ready. We tried the ‘New Queen’ (orange), ‘Mini Love’ (red), and ‘Musketeer’ honeydew (white in the background). The orange melon was a tiny bit over-ripe. The red was perfect. The honeydew wasn’t very close to ready. I will say it was a bit of a shock to the system to have a seeded melon for a change! Yesterday I came across a ‘Maverick’ cantaloupe and one of the ‘Gold Crown’ watermelons (yellow rind, red flesh) that was ripe. We tried them too. The cantaloupe was okay but not spectacular. The watermelon was very good.

Have a great weekend! If you don’t have your own, go find some seasonal, local produce!

Friday PhotoEssay – July 14, 2017

Like many local gardens, our Demonstration Garden is seeing the onset of a wide range of insects, diseases, and weather-related challenges. On the surface though, it is beginning to look like a rather overgrown jungle of green.

35753095232_b67cbf5fc4With the tomatoes and vine crops throughout the garden, everything is starting to look a little crazy, and I’m afraid it will only get worse before it gets much better. Of course, on the surface, everything looks beautiful. But at closer inspection, it’s not quite as pretty.

35753076982_ce27e7cb2fWhile the cracked tomatoes are by no means an uncommon sight for the Kansas gardener, it can be downright frustrating when they are cracked to the point of mushy rottenness before they are remotely close to ripe. Not to mention disgusting when you stick your finger into a rotten spot while trying to pick what looks like a good tomato. That is what happened with these two Cherokee Purple tomatoes. The combination of watering, rain, heat, and variety has made these tomatoes mush before their time. Normally we recommend harvesting before full maturity to prevent the worst cracks, but that doesn’t work in this instance.

35922889015_c4d51fa281The beans are well on their way to being crispy due to spider mites. The mites seem to have gotten started a couple weeks ago, and the progression has been such that nothing seems to help. Normally we would recommend either a hard stream of water, neem oil, or horticultural oil as a treatment. However, with the heat and high population, it will probably be time to pull these plants out in the near future.

35922852285_939c99aebfA couple of the melon varieties have a few disease lesions on the leaves. It isn’t very severe at this point, probably because it has been relatively dry until last night. We haven’t opted to treat yet, partly because the plants are so large, but it is important to keep an eye on things like this, because it can spread quickly. In hindsight, it would have been smart to treat before last night’s rain.

35922871395_11255b89b5What sad looking onions, you say? Well, yes. But not really. The onions flopped over at the necks is an indication that the plants are done growing and the onions can be harvested. We pulled all the onions this week, some from the Grocery Garden and the rest from the Peruvian Garden.

35791372561_5a9633ab3aJust so you don’t think that all is death & destruction in our garden this week, here are some of the cucumbers we harvested. The dark green variety is Tyria, and English cucumber that had very small seeds and relatively thin skin. The white one is Lime Crisp, which was supposed to be more of a lime green color, but looks almost white. It was sweet, but had larger seeds.

35534633400_66d93f9fabFinally, the watermelons! We have several melons set and growing well. We bagged / nyloned all of them this week to ensure they can stay on the vine and keep growing well. Since we selected larger melons this year, they likely still have a few weeks of growing to do before harvest.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – June 30, 2017

It’s been a few weeks since our last PhotoEssay, and the garden has changed significantly! Here’s our overview for this week: 


Just a comparison of the same view last week: 35446106376_acaed67120

And the same view three weeks ago:

35031930602_45365981f0The vine crops have grown more than 10x bigger overall (and I’m pretty sure twice the size just since last week!) and the tomatoes are at least twice the size. The peas are gone and have been replaced with more plantings of squash and melons. 

While the garden looks great from a bird’s eye view, from a closer look I can tell you that some of the normal summer disease and spider mite issues are already starting to take hold.  But….I have enough neat things to show you without showcasing the start of the usual death and destruction. 

Here’s another view of the Vertical garden, taken a week ago. The vines had just reached the size where clipping them to the trellises was necessary that week, and they were already escaping the trellises again. 

And the same view again, perhaps a slightly different angle. This was taken yesterday. While the watermelon vines (closest to the front) are not thick (yet), they have clearly been growing quickly! It takes regular clipping or tying to keep the vines from getting out of control. 


We had a big harvest week this week as well. I’ll be posting the Grocery Garden Harvest Report soon, but we also harvested some sprouting broccoli, Swiss chard, kale, and onions from the accessible beds, cabbage from the colonial garden, and eggplant from the containers. The beets, carrots, and beans are from the Grocery Garden. 

The ‘On Deck’ sweet corn is tasseling! It isn’t even three feet tall when it supposedly should be five. Perhaps a little short on nitrogen? At any rate, corn doesn’t typically put on height after tasseling. I don’t see any signs of ears developing yet, so I’m not overly optimistic…But it is cool to have corn growing in our garden in a container. Maybe we will recommend it as an ornamental for containers? 

This is one of the artichoke plants. If you look really hard at the center of the picture, you can see a small, purple bud, which is the start of what will be the artichoke at some point. Artichokes actually ARE the flower buds. This one is still very immature, but it’s nice to see that we’ll get something out of this bed, even if not very much. 

Have a great weekend! 

Friday PhotoEssay – June 9, 2017

Lots of plants are blooming in our garden this week – and that’s not always a good thing!

35031930602_45365981f0With warm weather, the garden continues to grow rapidly. Nothing ever stays the same, and over the next week we will be removing some spring plants and planting a few more summer plants.

35031904862_bbb559f4d7The potatoes are now in full bloom. Between the rather showy white flowers and the purple tinge on the leaves, the plants are beautiful. They are also getting a bit floppy. I’m concerned that the yield may not be great due to excess nitrogen, but we won’t know that until later. Typically, we assume that tuber growth has started once flowering begins and harvest is after the plants have died back.

35031914982_90a4d01203Of the carrots we have planted in the Grocery Garden, one is ‘Dragon,’ a purple-skinned, orange fleshed heirloom. With the spring weather, several of the carrot plants are bolting. Once bolted, the carrot root will be more bitter and fibrous, as well as simply smaller that otherwise. Carrots can grow well here in good soil, but they are more reliable in the fall. The warming temperatures in the spring can cause many varieties to bolt.

35066831521_d687b007c7Also blooming this week is the cilantro. We have been growing a variety, ‘Calypso,’ that is supposed to be slower to bolt. Really, not bolting until early June is very good results for cilantro in Kansas. And even though it has bolted, the flowers are edible and then the seeds can be used for coriander later.

35031896952_29eb30a54f The tomatoes are flowering and even starting to set some fruit. This is the ‘Little Napoli’ that is in the Accessible Garden. It was impressive last year, and looks like it is on the same track this year.

35197347145_3553f919a0Hmm…no flowers here to fit with the theme. Still, I wanted to show off how good the kale and chard are looking in the Accessible Garden.