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Friday PhotoEssay – May 12, 2017

After a week of warmer temperatures and MORE rain, the garden has grown a lot! We also planted some of the warm season plants and plan to plant more this coming week.

34231794200_e95264ba42The peas in particular have grown significantly and most of them are starting to flower.

34231788430_65499ea637Most years, we may have one variety of peas planted in one area. This year we have 5 different pea varieties – one heirloom shelling pea, one snow pea, one sugar snap pea, and two peas for containers. This is the ‘Peas in a Pot’ variety. It is about 10 inches tlal and is already flowering and setting pods.

33807921763_c929f5e276The sprouting broccoli in the barrel planter is starting to head in the center. Next week we will probably remove that small head in order to encourage development of side shoots. Sprouting broccoli doesn’t form large central heads, but it won’t be very productive if the central head isn’t removed.

33807911803_e4344969faThe tomatoes were all planted this week, although we are waiting until next week for the peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and melons. Because of the grafted plants, we couldn’t plant them deeper, resulting in some creative staking to keep the plants upright until the stems have gotten stronger.

33807915973_5304bb488aWe planted this Dragon Tongue Arugula in the Grocery Garden. This variety has highly lobed leaves with red veins. It has proven to be a very slow grower so far and the germination wasn’t great. We will wait and see if it improves with time.

33774984114_6a2ae6f114The new Prairie Star Annual trial garden was planted this week too. If you have driven by, you probably saw the row of big containers. These are for demonstrating the Prairie Star Annual Flower trials. We are excited for this new usage of the front of the Demo Garden space. Hopefully this area will be a beautiful color show all summer.

Friday PhotoEssay – May 5, 2017

It’s time to start our regular Friday reviews of the Demonstration Garden!

We have more growing in the garden than some years at this time. Except for the tomato and vertical gardens, which are empty, most of the other areas have lettuces, other leafy greens, peas, or root veggies.

34089420810_b1e36a6b7cWe had our first harvest of many of our leafy greens this week. This is the Elegance Greens Mix from the Grocery Garden. It got a little bigger than I prefer for salads, but we will be trying to stay on top of harvesting moving forward. Watch for harvest updates and track our produce value from the Grocery Garden as the season progresses.

34433386646_08ab0150e4The green sprouting broccoli that is in one of our barrel planters has enjoyed the cool weather and is looking great. It isn’t showing signs of heading yet, but I expect it will be soon. Another boon of the cool weather is that the cabbageworms aren’t around either!

34344105431_c9d314e282In what may be the first live demonstration of the challenges of growing heirlooms, this ‘Brown Dutch’ heirloom lettuce in the Colonial Garden is already starting to bolt. It is most likely reacting to the temperature fluctuations from warm to cold. But for whatever reason, this variety is not as tolerant to that and more prone to bolt.

34089439200_0d9db4ceb6The pallet garden we planted last year to strawberries is back up and growing. It is flowering and setting fruit. I don’t love the fact that the plants are so small. I think they are probably showing the lack of nutrients available to them in the pallet, and I don’t know that fertilizing right now is going to improve the fruit. It will be important for plant health if we want to keep it going for next season though. Now…how to fertilize and keep the nutrients where we put them? Ah, the challenges of pallets!

34089442010_59c9a47d0fThe Japanese bunching onions and carrots that we overwintered were harvested this week. The carrots weren’t in great condition. I think that overwintered carrots are best harvested in January or February, before it starts getting too warm!

34089460380_5ed50b1541Our poor tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are still waiting to be planted. It has just been TOO COLD. With the early, warm temps 6-8 weeks ago, we started thinking early spring. But the reality is that the temperatures in the past two weeks have been too cold for these plants to be outside without suffering cold injury. We are hoping to plant tomatoes this next week and the peppers in two weeks.

Friday PhotoEssay – May 13, 2016

With a week of warm weather and some rain, the garden continues to grow quickly. After this week, we have almost everything planted. We planted seeds of cucumbers and other vines, the scorzonera, and a few other miscellaneous things. I think all that we have yet to plant is the oca (hasn’t arrived yet) and some of the flowers. Of course, the vegetables that will be part of the fall garden are also not yet planted.

Of course, there is always something that goes wrong. This poor tomato plant is showing signs of herbicide injury. It is the only one, which means it is probably something in the soil. We added some compost, but other areas that have compost added are looking okay. We may never know exactly what happened! We will let it grow for a little longer to see if it outgrows the problem.

In contrast, this purple Chinese cabbage (from the purple garden), is looking spectacular. I love how the interior leaves get more crinkly as it grows.

The Chinese broccoli (in the Oriental Garden) is just starting to produce the edible flower buds. This type of broccoli is not supposed to produce large, individual heads but rather lots of smaller shoots. You can already see some of the side shoots developing. I think that we will need to harvest the initial center shoots to encourage more side branching for best yields.

We harvested the lettuce in the pallet garden and then planted some more strawberries. We also moved it to it’s permanent summer spot, which is a little bit shadier. It probably better mimics a balcony or patio situation this way, and maybe the lettuce will stay nice longer.

We did harvest the lettuce beds again this week, resulting in a multitude of bags of lettuce. It was looking really good and showing the pattern well. I couldn’t get a great picture because of the sun and shadow, but I think you get the idea.

Have a great weekend!

Purple Peacock Sprouting Broccoli

Given the lesson of the other sprouting broccoli, when the Purple Peacock Sprouting Broccoli started putting on a head, I took it off fairly soon.

The head definitely has a purple cast to it, although I think it is really just a deeper, darker blue-green than normal broccoli.

As you can see from this view, it doesn’t look nearly as purple up close. And then there is the caterpillar. We haven’t treated for the cabbageworms recently, so I wasn’t surprised to see one. What was surprising is that I actually found six caterpillars in this small head of broccoli. Yes, that’s a lot. Yikes!

This is what it looks like now, about 2 weeks later. You can see all the side shoots that have developed after cutting the main stalk. And yes, these are currently frozen solid.

Here’s the green sprouting broccoli that I cut several weeks ago. It also has some nice side shoots growing. Once things thaw out, we may have to cut some of these. Broccoli is typically damaged once the temperature dips below 24, so I’ll be interested to see how these plants come out of the cold.

Friday PhotoEssay

Yikes that rain is cold this morning! It looks like there’s a chance of frost this evening as well, although the forecasts are for about 34 degrees. Looking at the long range forecast, it seems like there’s a chance for below-freezing temperatures around Halloween. BUT, since we are down to cool season vegetables in the Demo Garden, it doesn’t make much difference to us what the weather forecast is at this point!

Okay, I forgot about the sweet potatoes. Those are coming out this next Tuesday though, so after that we are left with our perennial herbs and cool season vegetables. I braved the cold rain to get a few more pictures this morning as well.

Do you see it? This is the ‘Purple Peacock’ sprouting broccoli in the Kids’ Snack Garden. There’s the beginning of one tiny head of purple broccoli. From looking online, it seems like it should get bigger than this before we harvest it.

One of the ‘Rattail’ radishes has bolted and started to flower. Yay! We should have a rattail or two to try later on.

These salad greens have long since overgrown the “salad” stage, but they do still look beautiful and tasty! Mostly they are kales and mustard greens, shading the endives/escarole/chicories in between them.

In the spinach section, there is one big plant sporting pointy leaves (not usually a good sign), and a bunch of small plants.

This heirloom ‘Purple of Sicily’ cauliflower is still just thinking about starting a head, but the veins, leaf petioles (stems), and main stem are such a pretty light lavender color that I wanted to share anyway.

One of our Master Gardeners took a few of the ‘Scarlet Queen’ turnips to try a recipe for Pink Turnip Soup. The turnips had a nice red skin and a little pink in the centers. Unfortunately, she said the the color wasn’t strong enough to make the soup pink and it turned out to be an ugly brown. Oh well…at least the before picture is nice!

Have a great weekend!