Blog Archives

Garden Work Day in April Weather

Yesterday, although it felt more like April rather than mid-May, we forged ahead with planting our vining vegetables anyway! I’m just tired of waiting on the weather’s pleasure, and the soil is marginally warm enough anyway.

The main things we had left to plant were the cucumbers, gourds, melon, and pumpkins on the trellises throughout the garden. Here you can see the spinach and mustard still growing well in the trellis area of the Taste of India Garden. Typically we plant on the outside of the trellis, but given the plant and trellis placement this year, we decided to plant the seeds between the drip lines and the edge of the trellis.

We also had the Prairie Star Annual flower trials to plant this week. The entry gardens, quiet garden, and some containers were planted with the flowers in the Prairie Star trial. We’ll be keeping an eye on them all summer long to see how they do.

 Since only 3 of the original strawberry plants survived, we planted a few more plants of two different varieties that I was able to find locally. We added 7 Ozark Beauty plants and 5 Quinalt plants to our mix. I hope we have better luck with these! The rest of the garden we will plant to some flowers or herbs or something else. We’ll wait and see!

Except for a few miscellaneous things, we are almost done with planting for the year. It will be fun to see how things grow!


Planting Strawberries

If you recall, one of the beds in the Demo Garden this year is designated for “annual” strawberries. That is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, because the plants themselves are still technically perennials. However, we are trying two varieties of day-neutral strawberries, which can produce strawberries all year long, regardless of day length. Traditional, June-bearing strawberries only produce once in the spring. For that reason, these varieties are often grown as annuals, particularly in commercial settings.

The first variety of berries arrived last Thursday, which we planted on Friday. The second variety arrived yesterday, so we planted those this morning.

Here’s the bundle of bareroot plants that got here on Thursday. Don’t those roots look healthy? Bareroot plants are still dormant or mostly dormant, which means that we have a little leeway in planting, but we really don’t want the roots to dry out. We stored the plants in the bag they were shipped in (partially open) in the refrigerator until planting.

When you are planting strawberries, the key is to plant them at the right depth. You want all the roots to be underground, but you can’t get the growing point below the soil level. That means that you have a very narrow margin of error for the correct depth. On this plant, the correct depth would be the darker brown area in the center, between the roots and where you can see green stems coming out the top.

The other important part about planting strawberries is that you can’t just bend the long roots in the bottom of the hole. We call that a “J” root planting. When your bareroot plants have lots of long, healthy roots, it is usually easier to trim a couple inches of the finer roots off the bottom. We trimmed our plants so they had about 5″ of roots. Much easier to plant at that point! Since the plants are still dormant, it doesn’t hurt them to have their roots trimmed.

For spacing the plants, we planted much closer than if we had been planting June-bearing strawberries. We planted a double row of each variety, about 10″ apart (4-5″ off the drip line). The plants in each row were planted approximately 12″ apart, and the rows were staggered, so there aren’t two plants directly across from each other. You can kind of see the tops peeking out in the pictures above.

Because we had just worked in a whole bunch of really nice compost, we didn’t fertilize at all. If you haven’t added compost, manure, or fertilizer recently when planting strawberries, a little bit of a starter fertilizer might be helpful in the planting holes.

Now it is just a matter of keeping things moist and waiting for the plants to take off and grow!

2014 Garden Plans: Bed 5 – Annual Strawberries

We haven’t had any fruit in the Demo Garden since we renovated a couple years ago, so it is going to be fun to have some strawberries again. What we are trying this year are two varieties of Day Neutral strawberries that are typically grown commercially as annuals. Plant, fruit, and remove all in one year. Now, most production systems recommend fall planting for a spring crop and any additional harvest is bonus. Obviously we didn’t do that, so we are trying an early spring planting with the intention of letting the plants fruit for as long as they want to until it gets too cold in the fall.

Bed 5 (2)We only have a small raised bed dedicated to this project, so despite the temptation to cram 4 varieties in, we opted for just two – ‘San Andreas’ and ‘Mara des Bois.’ Both are supposed to have good flavor for day neutrals (they are usually not so flavorful – think grocery store strawberries right now), and have some good disease resistance. A local grower had tried three other varieties last year, so we wanted to try a couple others. I’ll be growing a third variety (‘Albion’) at home, so I’ll be interested to see how they compare. Day neutrals typically don’t fruit well when the temperatures get hot, so the weather will impact our yields. Last year the local grower reported issues with fruit rots in mid-summer due to the rain. We just can’t win, no matter what!


Down the Gardening Rabbit Hole

Over the weekend, I read a post on one of the gardening blogs I follow (The Veggie Patch Re-Imagined) about another blog all about growing uncommon root vegetables. I was familiar with some of the roots/tubers mentioned (oca, mashua, mauka, etc) from attempting to grow them at a previous job. (I left them when the plants were still babies.) So I emailed myself to check out that blog this morning when I didn’t have to use my phone to browse.

From there, it was a quick trip down the garden blog rabbit hole. I found about a dozen new blogs and websites to follow, and because I have no sympathy for your needs to not spend time browsing the internet, I’m going to share them with you. So as a word of warning, if you don’t have at least an hour to spend browsing garden sites, please stop reading now and go do something else.

Read the rest of this entry

Easy Quinoa Peach Crisp

Peaches are in season! Peaches are a wonderful addition to this twist on an old favorite, peach crisp. Quinoa (keen-wah) is a whole grain you will want to include in your healthy diet. It is delicious and nutritious. Some even call it a super food! It is one of my new favorite foods and hopefully will be one of yours too!

• 3 cans (16 ounces each) peaches, drained and sliced (or use fresh)
• 1/3 cup margarine
• 1/3 cup flour
• 1 cup uncooked quinoa
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray and arrange peaches on bottom.
2. Melt margarine in a small glass dish in microwave for 45 seconds.
3. Mix flour, quinoa, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
4. Add margarine and mix until crumbly.
5. Sprinkle mixture over peaches.
6. Microwave uncovered for 7 to 8 minutes.