We had our first workday in the garden this week, and hence our first photo tour of the garden today. We worked hard, between the Compost crew and the Demo Garden crew. We added compost to our garden beds as fast as our Composters emptied the bins and screened the compost!
We refilled almost all of the beds to a full level. We had one bed that still had straw from last year, so we added compost and then turned it all under, adding a little nitrogen fertilizer to help the straw break down faster.
Look at that awesome compost!
Our lettuces that we started just 4 weeks ago were ready to be planted outside, even though the forecast was for cold and wind. The cold temperatures actually help make the red lettuces a darker color. (The wind just makes everything look battered until they adapt to it!)
We planted them into the quilt block beds, using bamboo stakes to mark out the pattern. I’m looking forward to seeing how these beds look once they are filled in.
We also planted the purple cabbage, purple snow peas, purple kohlrabi, more red/purple lettuces, and purple radishes in the K-State Purple garden.
Last but not least, we had a group inside planting our pepper and eggplant seeds that will be planted outside in early May! They are now living under the lights in my office, waiting to germinate.
Here is the picture of the whole garden for this week. I know you can’t see much, but the weeds are gone and the beds are full of soil and compost!
We’ve had two work days over the last two weeks and one hailstorm. Most of the cleanup involved removing a few remaining dead plants, raking up the remaining straw from last year, and collecting leaves that had blown in and taken up residence on the paths. We also planted potatoes, strawberries, cut back herbs, dug horseradish, and worked in all the compost we had stored in the shed from last year.
On one hand, I was a little disappointed in how weak a lot of the strawberry plants were coming through the winter. The ‘Ozark Beauty’ were very thin and weak. The ‘Ogallala’ were better, and they were stronger last fall too, since they had sent runners down to the path that had taken root. I ordered more ‘Mara des Bois’ for the section of the bed that ended up being planted to peanuts last year, and we ended up pulling many of the wimpy ‘Ozark Beauty’ plants and replanting with the ‘Mara des Bois.’ The picture is of a couple of the newly planted bareroot plants that are just starting to peek out leaves.
One thing that was definitely not any worse after the winter was the horseradish. Not that it was surprising, because horseradish is one of those plants that is harder to kill than it is to keep alive. We dug out some nice big roots, and the plan is to use this bed for peppers this year instead. Those of you that have grown horseradish can now start laughing at the people who will be busy trying to keep the horseradish from re-colonizing this bed.
So I had the lettuce, chard, and kale outside hardening off on Wednesday. And I left it out overnight because I figured that 35 degrees wouldn’t hurt it and would be good for it. And then it hailed. It was in the cold frame, but not under the covered part. Oops. Luckily, the majority of the lettuce looks none the worse for wear. The chard looks the worst, because it has spindly, unprotected stems at this stage and not many protective leaves. Most of it will probably be okay, but it is a bit of a setback.
Look at that yummy compost! We are lucky to have our Master Gardener compost committee working hard all year round to provide us with great compost! We topped off several of our beds with compost last week. This bed was pretty low, so it will be nice and rich with that compost this year.
Have a great weekend!
We had our first work day of the season this morning, and boy am I tired! I’m afraid that my gardening muscles are pretty out of shape this spring.
Our most important task for the day was to incorporate some beautiful, new compost into all of our beds. Since we renovated two years ago, the soil level has settled quite a bit. Some beds had dropped about 5+ inches of soil! So, adding compost gets us a boost of nutrients for the year, adds more bulk to our soil mix, and helps to counteract our very sandy soil in our raised beds.
Look at that hard-working crew! We had a whole bunch of compost to work (6 cu. yards) and we got it done in record time! Based on our experience from filling the beds two years ago, we made trenches in each bed to help with the mixing process.
You can see here that we dug a couple trenches pretty close to the edges of the beds, because we found that it was pretty sandy right along the edges. Then we dumped in the compost and went to work mixing everything in.
You may also have noticed that we removed the drip lines before the mixing. Since they were already disconnected, it wasn’t a big deal. However, nothing is worth having punctures and slices all through your drip lines! At that point you might as well start over.
Our herb gardeners cleaned up the perennial herb garden, dug all the plants that were still alive, added the new compost, and then replanted. Even with the cold winter, some of the perennials are looking good! We were excited to see the French Tarragon looking so healthy, since it is the Herb of the Year this year.
We did get started planting a few things, but I need to save something to post about later this week, right?
I’m sure that “March Madness” probably refers to basketball games for most of you. However, in Demo Garden land, March can get pretty crazy with the garden to-do list, let alone everything else. I thought that you might find it interesting to know what is on our “To-Do” list for the first part of spring, rather than seeing the posts about the different projects as we complete them.
This week: Hardening off early kale & lettuce seedlings; ordering compost; making sure seeds are organized for planting
Next week: Adding (and incorporating) compost to top off the raised beds; transplanting kale & lettuce; starting pepper seeds indoors; planting a few seeds and potatoes outdoors; general cleanup and cutting back dead herbs
Week of March 24th: Planting onion plants, bare-root strawberry plants, other cleanup?
Week of March 31st: Starting tomatoes indoors; planting beets, carrots, etc outside
Of course, the big project on the list is getting the compost added and incorporated. Everything else is pretty routine!