Our Demo Garden plantings are well underway for this year, and we already have some exciting things to showcase. But first – here’s a quick overview of what we are planning to grow this year!
We chose to continue to focus our garden efforts on productivity and yield over diversity for this year. We are planning to continue donating our harvests to the Common Ground Producers & Growers Mobile Market for their Seniors First food box program, which provides free food boxes to low income seniors.
With that in mind, we are keeping each garden bed to only a couple different types of produce, although we still have more diversity of varieties than you might otherwise see. We are also focusing on interplanting and succession planting to use our space well. For example, in bed 1, we have radishes planted between rows of beets and carrots and IN the row with the parsnips to use every square inch of space. In Bed 2, we are filling the space with lettuce and spinach now, and then the peppers for the remainder of the season will be planted into the leafy greens while they finish their spring season. In Beds 4 and 5, we have planted broccoli, cauliflower, and peas under the trellises that will hold the cucumbers and squash later in the summer to get an additional crop out of those spaces.
The Master Gardeners have been hard at work getting the garden into shape for the spring, and almost all the beds have either seeds or transplants already growing. We had covered most of the beds with straw last fall, so that is both good and bad now – the soil stays moist with the straw, but we have lots of wheat seedlings growing. We also needed to move quite a bit of the straw around to facilitate seed planting.
The other thing I’m excited to show off a little bit are a couple of the school garden templates that I developed last year and planted last fall.
The templates are 4×8 layouts designed with high diversity (and relatively low productivity) for better interest and learning experiences in a school garden setting. (You can see all the templates and supporting information here: Kansas School Garden Guide.) Both of the templates shown here were designed to be planted last fall and overwintered. These overwintered with NO additional protection from the elements. They include pansies, tulips, garlic, shallots, alpine strawberries, barley or wheat, and vegetables (kale, carrots, red-veined sorrel, spinach).
If you haven’t been out in awhile, our garden is always open to the public – best viewed during daylight hours! Things will be changing fast as it gets warmer, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit.
Every day there is something new growing in the garden. The spring and early summer have been challenging this year, leaving us with some good examples of what can go wrong (and right!).
First, the obligatory whole garden view for the week. Lots of green and growing!
A few weeks ago we found our bean leaves all Swiss-cheesy, almost overnight. Well, big munched holes usually mean a caterpillar or a beetle. In this case, Bean Leaf Beetle. Because we didn’t catch them right away, we opted to spray with permethrin, which took care of them. If you want an organic option, pyrethrin is the best choice.
And more holes in the cabbage leaves! These were caused by tiny, young grasshoppers. We opted not to spray the cabbage because it was closer to harvest and…
…it was also pretty clear that the cabbage was not enjoying the heat. The red cabbages in particular bolted (went to seed) before developing any significant head. They may have performed better in a spring where it warmed up more gradually. They may also do well if fall planted. But this spring…not so much.
We did get a couple partially formed heads of the red cabbage. You can see the scorched interior leaves. But isn’t that a neat internal head color! No filters used in the photographing or editing of these pictures!
We have reached the flowering stage for a lot of things. This is the flower of a new, trailing ornamental oregano, ‘Amethyst Falls.’
We are used to beans with white or maybe purple flowers. However, the ‘Scarlet Emperor’ Runner bean has bright scarlet-orange flowers. They are just starting to open this week.
This isn’t a flower…but it’s still cool! We have over a 18 different pepper varieties this year, mostly growing in containers. This variety is called Fish, and not only does it have striped / variegated fruit, the leaves also show variegation.
That’s it for this update. Come visit us to see more of what’s going on in the garden.
Lots of plants are blooming in our garden this week – and that’s not always a good thing!
With 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.
The 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.
Of 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.
Also 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.
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.
Hmm…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.
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.
The peas in particular have grown significantly and most of them are starting to flower.
Most 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.
The 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.
The 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.
We 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.
The 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.
This is the final post looking at what we are planning to do in the Demo Garden this year. From here on out, we will be looking at what’s already been growing while I’ve still been catching up on the garden planning posts.
Most years we do either flowers or herbs in the containers. This year we are planting a mixture of vegetables, herbs, and flowers in all the containers. Hopefully they will be both productive and attractive!
Most of the containers have been planted to lettuces, radishes, peas, and pansies for the spring time. Over the next several weeks, they will be giving way to the summer plantings which include tomatoes, peppers, herbs, eggplant, basils, chard, zinnias, begonias, and much more. Here’s a look at the plans for a couple of the different areas.
One thing that I think will be very interesting to see is the On the Deck Sweet Corn variety. It was developed for containers, but usually small plantings of corn do not pollinate well. It will be one of the the unique things to see for sure.
Just for fun, here’s a picture of one of the container groupings in the spring planting layout.