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Friday PhotoEssay – June 9, 2017

Lots of plants are blooming in our garden this week – and that’s not always a good thing!

35031930602_45365981f0With warm weather, the garden continues to grow rapidly. Nothing ever stays the same, and over the next week we will be removing some spring plants and planting a few more summer plants.

35031904862_bbb559f4d7The potatoes are now in full bloom. Between the rather showy white flowers and the purple tinge on the leaves, the plants are beautiful. They are also getting a bit floppy. I’m concerned that the yield may not be great due to excess nitrogen, but we won’t know that until later. Typically, we assume that tuber growth has started once flowering begins and harvest is after the plants have died back.

35031914982_90a4d01203Of the carrots we have planted in the Grocery Garden, one is ‘Dragon,’ a purple-skinned, orange fleshed heirloom. With the spring weather, several of the carrot plants are bolting. Once bolted, the carrot root will be more bitter and fibrous, as well as simply smaller that otherwise. Carrots can grow well here in good soil, but they are more reliable in the fall. The warming temperatures in the spring can cause many varieties to bolt.

35066831521_d687b007c7Also blooming this week is the cilantro. We have been growing a variety, ‘Calypso,’ that is supposed to be slower to bolt. Really, not bolting until early June is very good results for cilantro in Kansas. And even though it has bolted, the flowers are edible and then the seeds can be used for coriander later.

35031896952_29eb30a54f The tomatoes are flowering and even starting to set some fruit. This is the ‘Little Napoli’ that is in the Accessible Garden. It was impressive last year, and looks like it is on the same track this year.

35197347145_3553f919a0Hmm…no flowers here to fit with the theme. Still, I wanted to show off how good the kale and chard are looking in the Accessible Garden.

Friday PhotoEssay – May 19, 2017

We survived a rainy, stormy week and the garden looks generally green and healthy.

34338565900_43a1b986e6We also planted most of our remaining warm season plants this week, including replanting some things that hadn’t been successful so far…

34561246082_4759b39366Part of that planting was putting up all of our cattle panel trellises before planting our vine crops. We planted cucumber, watermelon, and cantaloupe seeds this week. I think they have managed to stay well watered!

33880685484_786770a1e3We also saw some pesky insects starting to make an appearance. The holes in the cabbages turned up some young cabbage loopers on the undersides of the leaves. We treated with Dipel Dust (a bacterial-based product) on Tuesday. Unfortunately, most of it did wash off later. Hopefully it did enough to get rid of the majority of the caterpillars.

34591910851_658f220b44Like most other plants, our carrots are growing well. Unfortunately, the plants are a bit too thick to produce good carrots. We thinned the plants out so that there is about one carrot plant per inch. This should make it easier to get good quality carrots rather than carrots that are twisted around each other.

34591916961_be056cd758We also transplanted our gingers back outside this week. They had been in my office and are more than ready to go back out. This is the turmeric. The rhizomes are still nice and healthy, but it is just starting to come out of dormancy and put on new growth for the year.

We are almost done with our spring planting, so from here on it is just a matter of watching everything grow!

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.

2016 Garden Plans: Bed 6 – Root Vegetables

If Bed 5 (Flowers, Pollinators, Herbs) was pretty much a reprise of things we’ve grown before, then Bed 6 is almost the exact opposite. It features not only new varieties of common vegetables, but some things that we’ve never tried before.

25591335151_cef5a0c400Let’s start with the more common things. In the spring, we will be trying out three varieties of beets.

  1. ‘Cylindra’ is a red been that is long and cylindrical rather than round. Some people find this variety sweeter than regular beets.
  2. ‘Boldor’ is the newest variety of yellow/gold beets. The other more recent variety, ‘Touchstone Gold’ was an improvement over the heirloom varieties that typically had poor germination. It will be fun to see if this is another good improvement.
  3. ‘Avalanche’ is a white beet that is also an All America Selection. It has been a while since there has been a new white beet variety, so it will be interesting to see if it is an improvement.

In the fall, we will replace the beets with  some slightly less common things.

  1. ‘Brilliant’ Celeriac (aka celery root) is grown for the root, not the leaves/stems like traditional celery. It commonly needs a long, cool growing season, so it will be fun to see if we can make it grow here!
  2. ‘Helenor’ rutabaga is another root vegetable that is common further north. Again, it may not grow well for us here. If you aren’t familiar with the vegetable, rutabagas are kind of like large, sweeter turnips.
  3. ‘Merida’ carrot is a variety that is supposed to work well for overwintering, so we will give that a try this fall.

Then, there is that other strange stuff shown on the map. You are probably wondering if those are vegetables that I just made up. I didn’t! They are real things!

  1. Oca is a root vegetable that is native to the Andes. It is somewhat like a potato, but has bright colors. Will it like Kansas? We won’t know until we try it!
  2. Black Scorzonera is an old, European root vegetable. Sometimes called “oyster plant” for the flavor, it is considered something of a delicacy, albeit rather difficult to grow and prepare. It needs a long growing season, too. Will it like Kansas? We’ll find out!
  3. Crosnes (aka Chinese Artichokes) are from mint family and develop little tubers that look a bit like miniature Michelin men. The tubers don’t develop until the daylength shortens at the end of summer or early fall, and it can be killed by frost. Will they do much in Kansas? If you guessed, we don’t know, that would be right!

I’m hoping for some interesting and photogenic vegetables from this garden, although I have to be honest that if the summer turns out to be too hot and nasty, then we could just have lots of dead plants.

Friday PhotoEssay – August 15th

It’s Friday! And you can tell that the garden is continuing to wind down into fall. I will have to look back and see at what point the garden stops getting greener and starts getting browner. We are definitely into the “browner” stage right now.

I guess it’s still pretty green though, at least from a distance. It helps that you can’t really see the quinoa from this angle.

We did harvest the ‘Kesar’ and ‘Red Samurai’ carrots from the India Garden this week. They were pretty good sized! Unfortunately, they had just enough exposure to heat this summer to make them pretty bitter. Ideally we would have harvested them earlier, but since they got started late, they really weren’t ready. Honestly, they were pretty yucky.

So the ‘Kesar’ carrots, which were billed as “red” were actually purple skins with yellow interiors. I guess that is yet another lesson to take catalogue descriptions with a grain of salt.

The quinoa is still flopped over from the wind and storms last week, and it continues to develop some more color! I hope the color keeps getting brighter, otherwise I’m going to be sad.

We also went through and harvested all the okra that was ready (and past ready). Most okra starts to get tough and stringy once it is more than 3-4″ long, so it is important to pick it as it reaches the right size. I read a blog post this week called “A Reason to Love Okra” which talks about how okra is cooked in India. I thought it was a really interesting insight into the different preparations of okra that we use.

Speaking of which…tomorrow at 9 a.m. in the Demo Garden is our August Saturday Sampler program, and we are featuring Indian recipes and recipes with flavors of India. I know one of the recipes in the booklet is a Crispy Okra Raita, but I don’t know if that one will be up for sampling or not. Either way, you should come check it out!

Have a great weekend!