Category Archives: Working in the Garden

Friday PhotoEssay – March 25, 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!

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Incorporating 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.

25404444653_85ecbcc176Look at that awesome compost!

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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!)

25733558530_41c91d926cWe 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.

25401573774_b3d729c479We also planted the purple cabbage, purple snow peas, purple kohlrabi, more red/purple lettuces, and purple radishes in the K-State Purple garden.

25401547844_f745d1a466Last 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.

25733540350_f743b80ae9Here 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!

More Planting and Bean Troubles

This week brought more planting – namely the peppers and tomatoes!

20150507_084559The tomatoes are already caged, but not yet mulched.

20150507_084608Only 4 peppers this year.

20150507_084448Hey! What is that? Looks like a elm seedling. Oh, you thought I was referring to the strawberry?

20150507_084506So there are a couple strawberries starting to ripen from last year’s planting. This one has been sampled by the roly polys. Ugh! There isn’t anything to do about them other than try to keep things dry. Hard to do this week! The one nice berry I found tasted like a ‘Mara des Bois’ – sweet and floral.

20150507_084639The majority of the beans that were planted didn’t grow well from the first planting, nor the second. They are missing leaves or have damaged leaves. There is a bit of difference between varieties though. It could be a few different things. We had this issue last year, and I thought it might be herbicide. A little more research this year indicates it could also be a bean/seed corn maggot or a disease. Basically, something is damaging the hypocotyl of the seed as it is germinating and results in plants with no leaves. Obviously they aren’t going to grow much from that!

The easiest fix for either of these problems is to till up the area and then replant when the soil is warmer. That worked last year, so hopefully it will work this year too.

20150507_084629This variety – ‘Contender,’ I believe, seems to be mostly okay. I suspect it may be more tolerant of cold soils. ‘Contender’ is an old variety, and sometimes the old ones are the best ones!

20150507_084411We’ll wrap up for the week with a picture of the whole garden! Things are only going to accelerate from here!

Garden Work Day in April Weather

Yesterday, although it felt more like April rather than mid-May, we forged ahead with planting our vining vegetables anyway! I’m just tired of waiting on the weather’s pleasure, and the soil is marginally warm enough anyway.

The main things we had left to plant were the cucumbers, gourds, melon, and pumpkins on the trellises throughout the garden. Here you can see the spinach and mustard still growing well in the trellis area of the Taste of India Garden. Typically we plant on the outside of the trellis, but given the plant and trellis placement this year, we decided to plant the seeds between the drip lines and the edge of the trellis.

We also had the Prairie Star Annual flower trials to plant this week. The entry gardens, quiet garden, and some containers were planted with the flowers in the Prairie Star trial. We’ll be keeping an eye on them all summer long to see how they do.

 Since only 3 of the original strawberry plants survived, we planted a few more plants of two different varieties that I was able to find locally. We added 7 Ozark Beauty plants and 5 Quinalt plants to our mix. I hope we have better luck with these! The rest of the garden we will plant to some flowers or herbs or something else. We’ll wait and see!

Except for a few miscellaneous things, we are almost done with planting for the year. It will be fun to see how things grow!

 

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.

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?