Updated Garden Plans!

49813022538_4a9e22a359It has been quite the ride since I posted our first look at garden plans for this year, hasn’t it? So many things have changed, and likely many others will before it is all said and done. Because our face-to-face programming is suspended for the time being, we have been thinking about how to adjust our garden for the summer to accommodate the safety of our staff, volunteers, and the public. At the same time, we know that many new gardeners are seeking information on how to start and maintain a successful vegetable garden, and that access to fresh, healthy food is more important now than ever. (And it has always been important!)

Because most of our early spring planting was eliminated, with the exception of plants that we already had ready to go, we have re-planned chunks of the garden to change those plans. We also had several parts of the garden that were planned to be more novelties, ornamental, or trials of things that we didn’t know quite how they were going to perform. In order to best fulfill our educational mission and serve our broader community, we have eliminated the majority of those types of plantings from the garden, and will instead replace them with the following:

  • Extra tomato and pepper plants that we had started already.
  • Beans, squash, and other common, generally productive vegetables that we had available.
  • Additional plantings of varieties we have grown in the past, had leftover seed in stock, and knew were going to be productive to replace trial varieties that were less likely to perform well.

Some of the things that we have maintained include:

  • Planting the square beds (8, 9, and 10) to perennial fruit plants. If you look at the pic above, you can see the dwarf apple in the front and the blackberries and raspberries growing in bed 9.
  • Vertical gardening / trellises to grow lots of cucumbers, melons, and other things throughout the garden.
  • The tomato trials of recent All America Selections winners.
  • Lots of different colors of veggies!

An additional change, along with planting varieties that emphasize productivity, is that we will be donating significantly more of the produce to those in need. Most years, a large portion of our produce is used for educational programming – for our Master Gardeners or others in the community, and extra produce has been donated. This year the primary focus of our garden will be to donate to those in need as a food bank garden.

As always, we look forward to growing and learning along with you! You might also be interested in joining our new, Victory Garden 101 Facebook Group to engage in more conversations and learning about vegetable gardening. What changes have you made to your garden plans due to the pandemic?

First Look: 2020 Demo Garden Plans

It has been a LONG time since we have posted an update about the Demonstration Garden. In fact, I think we haven’t posted much since the garden plans were done last year. Hopefully we will do better this year!

We had our first planning meeting just last week, and we have already started planning our gardens for the year. Below you can see the map to this year’s overall plans.

2020 Garden Maps

The quick overview:

Bed 1: Vining crops grown vertically. We have done this many times before, but it has been a couple years since we have used a whole bed. Stay tuned to find out what we grow!

Bed 2: Foodscaping – We are mixing vegetables, flowers and herbs together in this garden. We are taking our inspiration from our upcoming Keynote speaker at the Design & Grow Gardening Workshop! (Register here.)

Bed 3: New, Weird & Colorful (Unicorn) – We couldn’t decide if we wanted to try new varieties, weird things, or colorful things, so we combined them all and gave it the name “Unicorn” just for fun. I can’t wait to see what we end up planting!

Bed 4: This will be our Tomato garden for the year. One end has turned into perennial herbs as well.

Bed 5: Pizza! We are getting ready for some delicious grilled pizzas with tomatoes, peppers, basil, onions, spinach, and arugula.

Bed 6: Ireland – We will be featuring vegetables common to Irish cuisine.

Bed 7-10: Fruit – We are going to be investing in some perennial fruit for small spaces in our beds for the next few years. We are looking at berries, tree fruit and figs.

Stay tuned! If all goes well, I should be back to update you on specific varieties over the next few weeks.

 

First Day of Summer Garden Update

It’s the first day of summer, and it feels like it! Like many of you, there are good and bad things happening in the garden due to the excessive rain and milder temperatures. Honestly…we kind of need this heat to push along some of our warm season plants.

Whole Garden June 21, 2019It has been awhile since an update, but that doesn’t mean we have been MIA in that garden. As you can see, despite the weather challenges, the garden is planted, we have been harvesting, and things are going well. One benefit of the raised beds (and the drainage tiles underneath our garden!) is that no matter how much rain we have gotten, it drains away fairly quickly. So we are not seeing too much root damage from saturated soils.

pollinator herb garden

The herbs & pollinators garden has been growing gangbusters, with absolutely huge bronze fennel, lush parsley, and several beautiful agastaches.

homemade tomato cageWe once again have a SNAP-Ed garden, where we are highlighting the ability to use SNAP dollars to purchase garden plants. We track our expenses and the value of harvested crops. We also have to budget for every purchase, so there is often not money to purchase tomato cages or similar items. The gardeners built this homemade tomato cage for the two tomato plants. We will see if it fares better than last year’s homemade cage!

Glass gem popcorn plantsCorn is something new for us in the Demo Garden, simple because of the space requirements. We tried a Peruvian corn variety a couple years ago, but it didn’t grow. This corn is ‘Glass Gem’ popcorn. We are interested to see how it performs in the small area we have given it.

early blight on tomatoLest you think all is well in the garden, we are starting to see a fair amount of early blight on the lower tomato leaves. We hadn’t mulched the garden until last week, which probably didn’t help prevent disease. Mostly this is a rain and humidity problem. Cultural controls would include mulching, caging or staking, and keeping the leaves dry. Fungicide options would include chlorothalonil and copper-based products. It is important to note that fungicides only prevent new leaves from becoming infected, NOT cure infected leaves.

ladybug larvae eating aphidsThe other thing that we are seeing right now are aphids all over the tomatoes. This is quite abnormal, but probably due to the cooler weather. The benefit of hotter weather is that it should help the tomatoes grow faster and slow down the aphids (which normally like cooler weather). The white specks are the molted husks of the aphids. The black and orange guy is a ladybug larvae that is happily feeding on the aphids. We are hoping that between the hotter weather and the ladybugs, we won’t need to treat for the aphids.

There is much more to see in our garden, so come on over at visit us sometime!

2019 Garden Plans

It is once again the time of year where we plan what will be featured in our Demonstration Garden for the season. As always, we have a great mix of tried-and-true vegetables and some new and interesting things. When it is cold and snowy, it is a lot of fun to think about what will be growing in the garden in just a few short weeks. We will be starting the first of our seeds next week and it is all downhill from there!

Below you will find maps for each of our raised garden beds. The maps show the overall theme or focus for each bed as well as the specific varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers we will have growing.

Tomatoes - Bed 1Our tomatoes are in Bed 1 this year. Because of how this raised bed is structured, we will have roma tomatoes in one end, early maturing varieties on the other end, and some more common “comparison” varieties in the middle. The roma tomato varieties are a mixture of hybrids and heirlooms, with different colors, sizes, and shapes. We chose the “early maturing” theme because everyone always likes to have the first tomatoes! The six varieties we chose also are a mix of hybrid and heirlooms, with maturity dates ranging from 54 to 65 days from transplanting.

Spring and Fall Veggies - Bed 2

Bed 2 will feature a mix of cool season vegetables that are planted both in spring and fall. The spring plantings feature leafy greens, peas, carrots, radishes, and kohlrabi. The fall plantings feature two new cauliflower varieties, beets, daikon radishes, lettuce, spinach, and carrots. Our plan is to put row covers over at least part of the fall plantings to extend the growing season and overwinter them.

Slide3The theme for Bed 3 is the “Kansas Backyard Garden.” The idea is to feature common vegetables grown in Kansas. Most of the varieties are not too far out there either. A couple things that I’m excited about though are the bush-type vine crops. We are trying both a new bush watermelon variety, ‘Cal Sweet Bush’ that has only 18″ long vines, and ‘Cherokee Bush’ pumpkin that has about a 4′ spread.

Slide4On the other hand, Bed 5 is a long way from Kansas! We are featuring vegetables that are indigenous to Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa. Researching this garden was an education, because we discovered that some of our common ornamentals were originally edible vegetables in Africa! Vegetables that you may be familiar with are eggplant, okra, kale, and peanuts. You may be less familiar with cowpeas, long beans (a type of cowpea), amaranth, cleome, celosia, and bambara beans.

You probably do know amaranth – but as pigweed. There are colored leaf varieties and varieties that have been cultivated for edible greens. Other varieties are grown for flowers and seeds. Cleome is a ornamental flower we know, but most of us haven’t eaten the foliage as a vegetable! Celosia is another common flower that you may have grown for color. But the leaves and young flowers can also be eaten as a vegetable.

Cowpeas, long beans, and bambara beans are all from the genus Vigna. Cowpeas you may recognize. The long beans are vining beans that produce 18″ long edible pods. Bambara beans are kind of like cowpeas…the peas look a lot like the cowpeas. But they are kind of like peanuts…the pods grow underground.

One of the best things about this garden theme is that these are all vegetables that thrive in hot climates, so we are excited to see how they do in Kansas!

Slide5For a second year, we have a bed that we are calling our “SNAP-Ed” bed. This bed is a demonstration of how to garden on a very small budget, using only seeds and plants that can be purchased from a store where it is possible to use the SNAP EBT (food stamp) benefits.

Slide6Also a reprise from last year is Bed 6. Agastache is the Herb of the Year featured at our Herb Day event on May 4th, so we kept this bed in the same location with several overwintering agastache varieties. The flowers and herbs are chosen for the attractiveness to butterflies and other pollinators.

Beds 8, 9, and 10 are all 4′ x 4′ beds. Bed 8 will feature ornamental gourds on a trellis. Bed 9 will feature sunflowers. Bed 10 will feature a popcorn variety called ‘Glass Gem.’

Slide10In the accessible garden area, we are featuring a “Salsa Garden” theme. In the tiered raised bed will be a roma tomato, herbs, and peppers. In the barrel planters will be a trailing tomato variety, more herbs, and some green onions.

Our containers around the garden will feature flowers this year, especially some new varieties of Pentas. We are excited for spring! What are you planning to plant this year?

Fall Changes for the SNAP-Ed Garden

Although the summer is over, the SNAP-Ed garden still has a few more things left growing! We have collard greens, turnips, lettuce, spinach, radishes, of course our parsley and oregano, and just one beet made it through for us.

We had some healthy harvests of tomatoes and peppers make it all the way up until last week, check out how different the garden looks once we took those plants out:

 

Our Juliet tomato was our biggest producer, totaling about 1, 171 to the very end! Thai basil did very well, too. Almost too well, we had so much we didn’t know what to do with it! 🙂 The Garden Salsa peppers were another great producer with about 150 peppers by the end.

Here are our totals of what we would have spent at the grocery store so far:

Radishes: $41.11
Spinach: $3.13
Red Salad Bowl Lettuce: $45.18
Garden Salsa Pepper: $10.59
Big Bertha Pepper: $62.46
Carmen Pepper: $10.74
Marconi Pepper: $4.95
Juliet Tomatoes: $30.20
Phoenix Tomatoes: $14.12
Bush Goliath Tomatoes: $12.34
Solar Fire Tomatoes: $13.77
Cucumbers: $26.22
Zucchini: $23.29
Green Beans: $6.64
Cantaloupe: $3.98
Oregano: $25.62
Parsley: $3.56
Sweet Basil: $48.10
Thai Basil: $100.00

Total: $507.78