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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 – September 2, 2016

It’s hard to believe that it is somehow September. I associate September with fall, and the nights are certainly getting cooler, but the garden still looks like a summer jungle.

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I both really enjoy this garden season – when everything is still mostly lush and overgrown – and get really annoyed by it! Primarily I get annoyed when I have to try to get from one end of the garden to the other, as many of the paths are encroached upon by plants that have gotten floppy.

28720451223_1d888b5404Speaking of floppy, lush, and overgrown, the ‘Esterina’ cherry tomato continues to impress. It had a couple weeks of slower production (probably coinciding with earlier hot temps), but has bounced back with a vengeance. The plants themselves are not overly attractive anymore, but who cares when you have this many scrumptious tomatoes to eat?!?

29307916766_ef455eb214In the “overgrown” category, we found this bean hiding amongst all the leaves and vines on the trellises in the Oriental Garden. It is one of our Winged Beans that we gave up on months ago and planted the Chinese Long Beans. Apparently at least one of the plants survived and has finally started producing a few pods. If you think it looks like a green bean or pea pod with green feathers sticking out the corners, you would be right.

29054224990_6bddaa81d9Yet another case of both lush and overgrown, the purple pole beans on the trellis in the purple garden are quite jungle-ish and have finally starting producing in the last week.

29341700315_a71a085517There was a point earlier in the season where I didn’t think the hops were going to reach their full potential this year. Clearly I was wrong on that count! In the past few weeks they went from barely covering the tomato cage to having grown all the way up, and then back down.

29054135690_a42e8f55faWith so many peppers in the garden this year, I sometimes feel like I’m doing Friday Pepper-Essays. Just one pepper picture this week! This is the Tabasco pepper plant. The peppers start green, fade to pale green, then turn orange, then red. I’ve started looking up homemade hot sauce recipes!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – August 5, 2016

We have hit our stride with summer produce over the past couple weeks, and unlike some years, there really aren’t many signs of decline around the garden…yet.

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Although, in the interest of full disclosure, we did remove the cucumbers that were in the accessible beds. They were pretty sad at this point. The rest of the garden looks a little bit like a jungle. I find myself dodging plants that are trying to take up space in the aisles when I walk through the garden.

28124954224_1cae23ddaeWe chopped and incorporated the other areas of buckwheat this week. One section was to prevent it from going to seed. The section pictured here we needed to clear so we could plant fall veggies in a couple weeks. A couple of our Master Gardeners brought hedge trimmers to do the chopping step with the buckwheat, then we used spades and garden forks to turn it under.

28742586545_6c006ca279Here’s the post-turning shot, in case you were curious what it looks like. It takes buckwheat only about 2 weeks to decompose sufficiently once incorporated.

28637321782_9f63b3ec8eSome of the purple peppers are beginning to color. This variety turns orange, then darkens to red. I think this in-between stage is a pretty cool look!

28665342471_e36084d472The Chinese Long beans are starting to produce, which is always fun. The challenge with them is that I’m always torn between the desire to leave them on the vine to see how long they get and knowing that for optimal eating quality they should be picked at about 12″ long.

28637346152_814bc77aa9We harvested the bulk of the grapes from our grapevine this week. We have a ‘Himrod’ grape, which is a green-gold, seedless table grape. The skins are a bit tough in some cases, but the flavor is exceptional. They taste nothing like grocery store grapes.

28712555076_0709e60abb_zJust to wrap up for today, another quick look at our Pollinator garden. Since our last look, the passionflower vine has reached the top of it’s trellis. Everything else seems to be doing well, and we have had some caterpillars on things.

Have a great weekend!

 

Friday PhotoEssay – October 30, 2015

The garden is almost ready to for the winter. We removed the remaining sad tomato plants and the squash and trellises this week. The only “warm season” things left are the pole beans, the flowering sages, and the annual flowers.

We don’t have a lot of cool season plants either. Just the lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and a few herbs and strawberries. You might notice that we left the straw after removing the plants. I feel like we are constantly trying to balance protecting the soil by leaving the straw on over the winter with reducing insect pressure by removing a place that insects could overwinter (in the straw).

We harvested the remaining squashes as we took down the trellises, but most of them weren’t mature yet. Squash is technically edible at almost any stage, but a winter/hard squash that is not fully hard yet will likely not have very sweet or good flavor. They were still cool looking though!

 

Since we talked about ripening green tomatoes last week, I thought I’d show you a couple before and after pictures. My office gets pretty warm, hence the quick ripening. Again, if they were in a cooler spot, they wouldn’t have ripened so quickly.

 Even the really green tomatoes in this batch have mostly ripened! There are still a few holdouts, so the question is if they were truly mature and will ripen eventually or if they weren’t completely mature and thus will not ripen at all.

The pole beans are still doing well. The green ones have slowed down some, but the purples are still producing like crazy. The purple variety is ‘Carminat’ and it is probably one of the sweetest snap beans I’ve ever eaten raw. Different bean varieties really do have slightly different flavors, and this particular variety is very sweet. Some varieties are nutty without having any sweetness and other just taste green/like grass.

The most photogenic thing left in the garden is clearly the Pineapple Sage (red) and the Mexican Blue Sage (purple). They have pretty much taken over their bed and with the tomatoes gone can really show off now!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – October 16, 2015

I’ll be honest that I’m just waiting for it to freeze so we can be done with things. Not that we couldn’t pull things out already, but it’s hard to do! You always want to see if just a few more things can ripen before the yanking happens. I’ve got a couple squashes that I want to ripen, but it probably won’t happen as the nights get colder.

We have slowly been removing tomatoes, but everything else is still growing strong.

The pole beans have really come on strong in the past couple weeks. The moral of this story is that fall planted pole beans can produce well, but spring planted pole beans are awful. Now the question is yield per square foot compared to bush beans…something to look at another year.

We haven’t had much for caterpillars in the garden this year, for whatever reason. We do have a few of these Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the fennel this week.

Not only are the pole beans doing well, the other varieties are producing well too. Beans are a versatile and productive vegetable, although I don’t often recommend them for a small space garden. Now I’m wondering about the pole beans again…

The Mexican Blue Sage (Salvia leucantha) is finally in full, glorious bloom. It is also very attractive to our bees. When I was trying to capture some good pictures, I realized that the grasshoppers are also enjoying the plant!

Have a great weekend!