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A Couple Announcements

Whew! Yesterday was crazy, as I was touring 5 groups of elementary-aged kids from a YMCA camp through the Demo Garden. We even stayed mostly dry! The kids had a great time, and I think all the plants survived too.

Tomorrow is the second Brown Bag Lunch in the Garden. Our topic for the week is Chinese (Napa) Cabbage. We’ll have a cool, refreshing salad to taste and a couple great recipes to take home. We might also have a chance to sample some gooseberries and currants, if there’s time.

Switching gears a bit, we will be hosting a “group viewing” of a webinar on Urban Agriculture & Community Development (think community gardens, maybe even for-profit). The webinar will be next Tuesday, June 15, from 1-3 pm. We will be joining the webinar from the Ingle Room here at the Sedgwick County Extension Office. The webinar is being put on by the EPA, and looks like it will be very interesting!

From the flyer:

Urban agriculture provides many benefits.  Vegetable gardens can be a source of fresh, healthy food, and an educational resource for adults and school children. Additionally, urban agricultural projects have also been used to provide green job vocational training in some communities. Many not-for-profits have partnered with local governments to promote community gardens in neighborhoods where there is little or no demand to redevelop vacant properties.  This webinar will provide an overview of urban agriculture techniques and examples from a community that has successfully implemented projects. HUD, EPA, and USDA representatives will also be available to answer questions about resources and funding opportunities related to urban agriculture.

Scheduled speakers: Patsy Benveniste (Chicago Botanic Garden) & Art McCabe (City of Lawrence, MA)

Friday PhotoEssay

I think the garden, by and large, is enjoying the warm weather this week, especially the fact that it hasn’t rained! The strawberries are pretty much done for the time being, but the other fruit is hot on their heels. I’ve posted the handout & recipe for this week’s Lunch in the Garden, featuring Lemon Balm, on the Lunch in the Garden page.

Don’t these look luscious? They are just starting to ripen, so I seem to get too impatient and end up eating a not-quite-ripe and a little bit tart berry every third one or so. The black raspberries are an unknown variety that was mislabeled as a ‘Chester’ Blackberry when I started working here. The red currants are ‘Cascade,’ and this is the first year that the plant looks really good and has a decent number of fruit on it.  Unfortunately, our plants are rather too close together, so I’m sure I’m missing some fruit.

The Bean Leaf Beetles are having a field day with our beans. You know, if the critters weren’t so destructive, there really is a rather artistic quality about some of the holes in the leaves.

This ‘Blues Hybrid’ Napa Cabbage is headed to my plate pretty quick here…I think there is a pot sticker recipe with its name on it!

The Chinese Long Beans haven’t been bothered by the Bean Leaf Beetles, and they love the heat! They have finally really taken off, and I think they are growing at least 3-4″ up the trellis each day. The best part is that they are finding their way up the trellis all by themselves, without any assistance!

A pair of Mallard Ducks have decided that our compost bins are the best place to build their nest. The mama duck has been dutifully sitting on the eggs for several days now. I’m glad she found a relatively safe nesting site, but it does rather hinder our efforts to make compost.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

Hopefully we are sort of back to some semblance of a schedule with the Friday PhotoEssay. Ah well…if I don’t get it posted, you can always check out all the pics from the week on Flickr.

We started the week with just a few strawberries here and there…some pretty, some not so pretty. Some eaten by roly polys, some eaten by robins, some eaten by me.

By today, we have probably a solid quart of berries, after getting about half a quart yesterday. Berries ripen so fast when the sun comes out and it gets warm!

I love citrus marigolds. They smell citrusy rather than marigold-y. They have pretty, delicate foliage, and the are a nice round ball-shaped plant covered with dime-sized flowers when they mature. Oh yeah, and did you know that they’re edible?

This oregano is something of a mystery to me. Parts of it are starting to wilt and look terrible. It did the same thing last year…parts of it wilted, then more of it wilted, then we cut it back and it came back and was beautiful. It kind of looks like it’s g0t Verticillium wilt or nematodes or something, and it is partially fighting it off.

Not sure how I missed these little guys until this point. I blame it on the rain! I was beginning to feel left out, since other bloggers in the area were reporting baby tomatoes. Now I feel better…even if they are just on the SunCherry plant in the Family of 4 Garden.

I knew you were all waiting for this one! It’s the first Swiss Chard picture of 2010! What can I say? Swiss Chard is almost as photogenic as a cute toddler, even with slightly hail-battered leaves.


I went out to the garden this morning and scrounged around in the wet, soggy strawberry patch until I found a handful of mostly okay strawberries. Between the roly polys enjoying the wet weather and munching on some of the berries and a number of berries that are bright red on one side but not on the other side, it was actually kind of challenging to find these 8 berries.

They certainly aren’t spectacular, and the flavor is nice, but nothing to write home about. I’m getting very close to writing a discussion of whether or not I would recommend this variety (‘Eversweet’) for planting. I’m tempted to just give you my complete analysis now, but in fairness to the variety, I want to give it another couple weeks of spring production.

Friday…er…Monday PhotoEssay

Well, things got a little off kilter last week and I didn’t get a photoessay posted on Friday. This has just been a crazy spring! Unfortunately, it looks like that “crazy” is going to take a turn in the weather today too. It looks like we only have one tomato casualty from planting last week, and I’m hoping that whatever storms we get today don’t flatten all the rest. I’ve already brought our extra plants (mostly) inside, so we have some replacements in reasonably good condition for  replanting tomorrow if needed. This is why I am in the habit of planting 3 tomatoes when I only need one for the garden – I have some leeway if one doesn’t germinate and if one dies after planting from disease or disaster. It’ll be nice if we don’t have to do a lot of replanting tomorrow!

Anyway, let’s look at some pictures from last Friday when it was sunny and not misty with a chance of nasty.

This is the Hon Tsai Tai, broccoli raab. It is putting on flower stalks. The flower stalks are supposed to be the edible part, although technically I believe you are supposed to harvest them before the bloom. Doesn’t affect their edibility, just the strength of flavor! The stems are rather smaller than I was expecting.

I wove my way back into the jungle of fruit plants to check on the fruit set for the gooseberry plant. Yes, there are more than 2 fruit on it, but these were the most readily accessible for picture-taking. Actually, I’m pretty pleased with the potential yield.

The red currants are beginning to show a hint of color. If I remember correctly, this is pretty early! I’m beginning to regret throwing out the bird netting. I’m afraid that if I want any currants, I’m going to have to keep the birds off. Robins are so destructive in fruit gardens!

The Chinese Long Beans are just beginning to grow. They look pretty healthy right now. It’ll be fun to see how long it takes them to cover the trellis. (At the rate the weather is going, it could be months!)