Blog Archives

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!

Looking at the Broccoli

I promised at least one non-Friday PhotoEssay post this week, so I guess I had better get on that! I thought about delaying because a couple of the pictures I wanted to include are on my camera at home, but I decided that was likely a recipe for not getting the post written.

Last Friday, I harvested a couple heads of broccoli from the garden. One was a huge, beautiful, dark green head of ‘Imperial’ broccoli. The others were small, oddly shaped, slightly yellowish-brown heads of ‘Apollo’ Sprouting broccoli.

This is the ‘Imperial’ broccoli. Isn’t that a nice head? Gorgeous!

Compare that to these three smaller heads of the ‘Apollo.’ Now, to be fair, the ‘Apollo’ is billed as a sprouting broccoli, which means that it isn’t intended to grow large central heads. In fact, I probably should have cut these small heads off sooner to encourage more side branching. Still, the color isn’t as nice either.

This is the side view of one of the ‘Apollo’ heads. Not a very nice specimen, is it? Again, it isn’t unexpected for a sprouting broccoli, but it is very different!

What I had hoped to show with the pictures from my camera at home is the process of getting the broccoli ready to use when you have had an onslaught of cabbage loopers and cabbageworms. If you’ve never had the experience of harvesting broccoli from the garden, well…let’s just say that if there were caterpillars on the leaves, they are probably in the head of broccoli too. What I did is cut all the broccoli up into pieces, and then I soaked it in a bowl of warm salt water for about 30 minutes. Given the caterpillar challenges of this fall, I was expecting to see a whole bunch of caterpillars floating on the top of the water that I could photograph…but there weren’t any! Once I put the broccoli in the pot for cooking, I could see half a dozen tiny to small caterpillars in the bottom of the bowl, and I found one more in the pot after cooking. But…it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting! I guess we did a pretty good job keeping the caterpillar population under control after all.

The other thing that I’m going to keep watching now that we’ve harvested some of the broccoli (the Master Gardeners harvested 2 more heads of ‘Imperial’ yesterday), is if the supposed sprouting broccoli produces more shoots than the ‘Imperial.’ Most broccoli will produce some side shoots after you harvest the main head, so we’ll have to see if there’s a noticeable difference between quantity and quality of side shoots.

Friday PhotoEssay

Even with a couple of hotter days this week, I have to confess that I’ve really been enjoying the weather. The cool mornings are the best! Unfortunately, it means that our melons and eggplant have really slowed down. The tomatoes are still going pretty strong.

I think I may show the view of the garden from this angle for a few weeks, at least until we take those cherry tomatoes down off the trellis. The vegetable arbor is kind of blocking the view of the rest of the garden. This way you can see the awesome blue-green color of all the Brassicas. I’m also thinking about doing a “Year in Review” PhotoEssay later this fall. It will be kind of a “time lapse” look at the garden through the whole summer. Look for that in early November, perhaps?

Look at this! I’ve been watching the broccoli and cauliflower closely, expecting that they may start forming heads soon, and this broccoli plant is just now getting started. I kind of thought the two sprouting broccoli varieties might have been earlier, but I guess not.

This cauliflower plant looks like it might be thinking about starting a head in the center. Lots of the newer varieties are self-blanching (meaning the wrapper leaves curl over the heads to help keep them nice and white), and I wonder if that’s what’s going on with these little new leaves in the center.

This savoy, ‘Famosa’ cabbage is starting to form the head in the center. All the cabbage seem to be starting to form heads, although with all the caterpillar damage, I’m not sure how edible they will be! This one seems to have the least damage, maybe because of the ruffly leaves?

I was out at the John C. Pair Horticulture Research Center down in Haysville last night. When we were out in the sweet potato fields, there were tons of toads hopping all over! I managed to get a picture of this one. It’s pretty amazing how well he blends in with the color of the soil!

Have a great weekend!