Blog Archives

Friday PhotoEssay – July 3, 2015

The garden feels like it is still in it’s early summer stages, even though it is now the beginning of July. We’re picking beans and some greens, but not much else yet.

The poor potatoes keep falling further over, but they are still pretty green. Most everything else is growing well, although we certainly haven’t reached the jungle-like stage yet.

The ‘Muir’ lettuce is the winner so far this year. All the other lettuces have been removed for the summer, but this one is still looking good and really hasn’t gotten too bitter yet. It has a bit of strong flavor to it, but not so strong that it is distasteful.

In the bean bed, the best yield so far has come from ‘Contender’ which is one of the old school varieties. It is also the shortest day to maturity variety. We’ll have to see if the other varieties catch up. The ‘Blue Lake Pole’ beans are doing pretty much nothing, while the ‘Carminat’ pole beans are setting a few beans.

We have a squash! This is one of the ‘Tromboncino’ squash, which is primarily eaten at the immature stage as a zucchini. It is growing on one of our trellises, and the plant is still looking pretty good with no signs of insects.

It’s the first tomato of the year! This is one of the ‘Italian Gold’ roma tomatoes. Not sure what’s going on with the weird shape of it, but hey, it’s a tomato. It even appears to have beaten out the cherry tomatoes for earliness! Most of the other plants have some nice sized fruit, but they aren’t all that close to ripening.

This ‘Fernleaf’ Dill is looking great with some nice clusters of flowers. If we had any cucumbers in the garden, we’d be ready to make dill pickles. But…no cucumbers this year! I suppose we could make dilly green beans if we were so inclined.

Have a great 4th of July weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – June 26, 2015

Long time, no photoessay! I could be wrong, but I think that the Friday PhotoEssays (and hopefully other posts too) are back for the remainder of the summer! Let’s get all caught up on what’s been happening.

As you can see, most of the garden seems to be growing well. We had a little bit of a hiccup last week and over the weekend with the irrigation system being down due to a problem elsewhere on the grounds. Bad timing! Everything looks a little bit scorched from that experience. It’s hard to catch up with watering when things get too dry.

The squash in the vertical garden are looking good overall. I saw some wilting in the heat of the afternoon yesterday, but I think it is just the hot and dry. I checked several of the plants for signs of squash vine borer and didn’t see anything. I also checked the soil, which seemed dry. I turned the water on! It’s nice when the solution to wilting is easy and not a pest. I read an article just this morning that said that squash vine borers prefer Cucurbita sp. with large hollow stems over smaller, solid stems. That probably accounts for at least some of the purported resistance of these varieties.

Only a couple of the varieties are starting to flower and set fruit yet, so when they progress further I will do a closer look at this garden bed. I’m a little surprised that the plants aren’t larger, but it is probably mostly weather. They might want a little more nitrogen too, given all the rain.

This is the parthenocarpic squash (don’t need pollination to set fruit) under the row cover set up. This picture is from about 2 weeks ago. It’s been a little tricky keeping everything sealed around the edges with the wind. But…it’s better than nothing! I should go take another picture of this today to show you, but it’s hot outside! The plants are now so big that they are pushing out on the row cover fabric, and there are flowers and fruit setting under the row cover. I’ll hopefully take a closer look next week.

Most of the tomato plants do have fruit set on them, and there are some really interesting differences in the sizes of the plants. I’ll plan to do a more in depth look next week or the week after. This is the ‘Indigo Apple’ tomato plant, which is a variety with purple coloration. The shoulders are already starting to show the coloring on these tomatoes.

We often have one of the red/purple basils somewhere in the garden, but most years they either get washed out or turn green. Apparently the key is to plant it in a shadier location! This ‘Red Rubin’ basil is under the lattice area where it gets more shade and the color is great! Of course, it isn’t very big either, but it seems like a fair trade for the color.

It’s in a tomato cage, but it’s not a tomato! This is a dwarf, container-type raspberry. It doesn’t look like it is producing anything this year because it died back to the roots over the winter. It is staying nice and compact though. I don’t know that it will every need the cage!

The beans are all looking good and seem to be producing well, after they had a bit of a rough start. This is the ‘Dragon Tongue’ bean that has purple stripes/splotches.

We’ll finish up for this week with this cool looking coleus. It’s name is ‘Rodeo Drive’ and I suppose it does look a little bit like a crazy bull, but I just think it looks cool.

Have a great weekend!

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!

A Little…or Big…Update

If you are a regular reader, you have probably noticed that updates on what we’re actually doing in the garden are pretty sparse this spring. In fact, non-existent up to this point. I know I’ve set you up with some videos and such to keep you occupied, but what are we actually doing?

Well…quite a lot. But not blogging about it, obviously. But I have a good excuse!


Sorry about the sideways picture. Things at home don’t play quite as nice as at the office.This little guy is a month old, and keeping me busy!

So despite me being MIA, things are still carrying on in the Demo Garden, thanks to our great volunteers! Let’s take a quick look at what’s been growing.

20150425_090107The spinach that was overwintered has gone all pointy and started bolting. It has been removed.

20150425_090154Some of the strawberries overwintered well, others not so well. We decided to plant some more of the ‘Mara des Bois’ variety that didn’t get a good start last spring due to some herbicide issues. They are looking good this year! Typically, we would remove flowers on strawberries for the first year. Because these are day neutrals, it isn’t necessary. I still tend to pick the first flush of flowers off, but you still aren’t supposed to need to do that.

20150425_090144The potatoes that were planted in March are growing well!

20150425_085934The lettuce that we started inside and transplanted is looking scrumptious! In fact, I believe they did a first harvest this week. The lettuce that I planted directly outside at home is about half this size, but harvestable due to thinning. The variety on the left is the ‘Flashy Butter Oak’ and on the right is ‘New Red Fire.’

20150425_085940A bit more of a close up. ‘New Red Fire’ is a looseleaf variety. Red, obviously, but not a dark red.

20150425_085950Closer look at the ‘Flashy Butter Oak.’ This is an oakleaf variety that is green with red speckles/flecks/streaks.

20150425_090036This is a heat tolerant romaine called ‘Jericho.’ It is looking good, so it will be interesting to see how it does as the weather gets warmer. (And it looks like it is finally going to be consistently warmer!)

20150425_090013This variety is ‘Muir,’ a heat tolerant, bright green, looseleaf variety. And that’s it for lettuce!

20150425_090127I know this doesn’t look like much, but our bed of beans was planted last week. At the far end is the trellis for the pole beans.

Some of the herbs and flowers were planted this week, more to come, as well as tomatoes and peppers next week. Herb Day is Saturday, so come out and see the garden in real life!

I’ll post another update…sometime…!

2015 Garden Plans: Bean Garden

Our third raised bed is going to feature beans this year. In case you haven’t noticed, each garden bed is focused on one (or maybe two) specific types of vegetables this year. We’re hoping this keeps things a little simpler for us in the garden and also gives us some really good information on comparing different varieties.

Bed 3

We are planning both a spring and fall planting of beans. We are also going to try two different pole bean varieties. Our intention with the pole beans is to plant them in the spring and let them go until they vines look horrible. Then we will replant for the fall with the same varieties. This is because pole beans don’t often do very well for us, but the Master Gardeners that said they had been productive had planted them for fall rather than in the spring. We’ll wait and see how it pans out!

When we chose the bean varieties we tried to choose a range of colors and types. So, we have green, purple, yellow, and striped beans. We also have regular snap beans, filet (skinny/smaller) beans, and romano/flat beans.

‘Contender’ – green snap bean, 40 days to maturity

‘Golden Rod’ – yellow snap bean, 53 days to maturity

‘Velour’ – purple filet bean, 51 days to maturity

‘Dragon Tongue’ – green with purple stripes, flat podded, 57 days to maturity

‘Jade II’ – green snap bean, 60 days to maturity

‘Blue Lake Pole’ – green snap pole bean, 66 days to maturity

‘Carminat’ – purple snap pole bean, 62 days to maturity

‘Provider’ – green snap bean, 50 days to maturity

‘Masai’ – green filet bean, 55 days to maturity

‘Romano Gold’ – yellow flat podded bean, 50 days to maturity

‘Amethyst’ – purple snap bean, 56 days to maturity

‘Carson’ – yellow snap bean, 52 days to maturity