Category Archives: Working in the Garden

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?

Planting Strawberries

If you recall, one of the beds in the Demo Garden this year is designated for “annual” strawberries. That is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, because the plants themselves are still technically perennials. However, we are trying two varieties of day-neutral strawberries, which can produce strawberries all year long, regardless of day length. Traditional, June-bearing strawberries only produce once in the spring. For that reason, these varieties are often grown as annuals, particularly in commercial settings.

The first variety of berries arrived last Thursday, which we planted on Friday. The second variety arrived yesterday, so we planted those this morning.

Here’s the bundle of bareroot plants that got here on Thursday. Don’t those roots look healthy? Bareroot plants are still dormant or mostly dormant, which means that we have a little leeway in planting, but we really don’t want the roots to dry out. We stored the plants in the bag they were shipped in (partially open) in the refrigerator until planting.

When you are planting strawberries, the key is to plant them at the right depth. You want all the roots to be underground, but you can’t get the growing point below the soil level. That means that you have a very narrow margin of error for the correct depth. On this plant, the correct depth would be the darker brown area in the center, between the roots and where you can see green stems coming out the top.

The other important part about planting strawberries is that you can’t just bend the long roots in the bottom of the hole. We call that a “J” root planting. When your bareroot plants have lots of long, healthy roots, it is usually easier to trim a couple inches of the finer roots off the bottom. We trimmed our plants so they had about 5″ of roots. Much easier to plant at that point! Since the plants are still dormant, it doesn’t hurt them to have their roots trimmed.

For spacing the plants, we planted much closer than if we had been planting June-bearing strawberries. We planted a double row of each variety, about 10″ apart (4-5″ off the drip line). The plants in each row were planted approximately 12″ apart, and the rows were staggered, so there aren’t two plants directly across from each other. You can kind of see the tops peeking out in the pictures above.

Because we had just worked in a whole bunch of really nice compost, we didn’t fertilize at all. If you haven’t added compost, manure, or fertilizer recently when planting strawberries, a little bit of a starter fertilizer might be helpful in the planting holes.

Now it is just a matter of keeping things moist and waiting for the plants to take off and grow!