We have kicked off our planting season in the Demonstration Garden with work days the last two weeks. We went from a garden that was full of volunteer wheat and cheat to a garden that had the beginnings of our plans implemented for the season.
As you can see, the weeds/grass and leftover plants from last year were having a field day. This picture actually looks better than it would have a day previously, as the Compost Committee graciously pulled the weeds and spread compost in Bed 4!
Here’s the “After” shot from yesterday. We removed the old hops vines, most of the other dead plants and all the weeds. We added a whole bunch of compost to the beds that needed it, and got started with planting.
The Colonial Garden is probably the farthest ahead in the planting game, as the vast majority of the plants in this garden are spring/fall (cool season) veggies. We transplanted three types of lettuce that Thomas Jefferson had records of planting, as well as two heirloom cabbage varieties and an heirloom, vining pea. We also planted both parsnip and salsify seeds.
The Accessible planters are largely planted already with spring crops. These planters will have a mixture of kale, chard, sprouting broccoli, spinach, lettuces, radishes, and peas for the spring. We will have a couple tomatoes later on, but again, lots of spring/fall crops.
One of the most interesting things in the early spring planting is this kale mix. It is called Kale Storm Mix, and we planted it in several of the containers. This is a multi-seed pellet, sometimes called a “fuseable.” They’ve been around the flower industry for a few years, but this is the first time I’ve seen them for veggies. The seed company took 3 kale varieties and mixed the seeds in a uniform ratio and put them into these larger “seed pellets.” The result is supposed to be an evenly mixed, visually attractive blend of kale. We’ll see how it turns out!
The ‘Cascade’ Hops is also an interesting experience. Last year I was afraid it wasn’t going to do much for the longest time. Then it did finally take off and grow. This year it is already half way up the cage before April 1st! Yikes! Another fun factoid: hops shoots are edible like asparagus. We tried nibbling on them, and they do taste like asparagus at first. But then there is a really nasty bitter aftertaste. Ugh! There’s a reason hops are not grown for spring edible shoots!
This has been a busy week, because we also got all our tomato and pepper seeds started inside. I don’t have any pictures of the plants yet, but I’m sure you can go back into the blog archives if you want to get the idea!
And just in case you were curious, I’m not planning on planting my tomatoes any earlier than usual – at this point. It’s cold today, and there’s a lot of weather to come before it is tomato planting time!
We made it to the “end” of the growing season! A few of the cold tolerant plants will keep going for a few more weeks, but everything else was removed this week. Take a look:
And this if from this morning. We did leave some of the herbs in, because we just couldn’t take them out when they were still looking good. I suspect that they will have to come out after this weekend.
The mystery of the browning leaves on the horseradish was solved…by actually looking more closely at the plants. They have a bunch of harlequin bugs making a home on them. These bugs are most commonly found on kale, so I was a little surprised they were on the horseradish. Given the upcoming cold weather, we decided not to worry about them for now. Especially since it’s highly unlikely they will come close to killing the horseradish.
Have a great weekend! Stay warm!
Sorry about the unexpected absence from the blog. Unexpected things tend to come up unexpectedly!
Earlier this week the Master Gardeners did a little bit of clean up and prep in the garden for the spring. They also planted a few things (rhubarb and horseradish).
They pulled out all the radicchio that had gotten frozen to nothing over the winter, leaving the few survivors, like this one.
I know you probably can’t tell what is what in this picture, but there are the very tips of what I believe is the rhubarb crown sending up shoots. It got planted in bed 9 rather than bed 10, for those of you that obsessively keep track of those things. (Oh, you mean it’s just me? Okay then.) This is the raised bed that has the Raised Bed Soil Mix in it rather than the sand/compost blend in the other beds. The mix has some small pebbles in it, which makes identifying growth more tricky. I’m pretty sure that the reddish-orange spots in the center are the beginnings of rhubarb shoots. The horseradish plants are supposed to be in this bed too, but I didn’t see any evidence of them.
The perennial herb garden got a good trimming and clean up. A number of things hadn’t survived the winter, so those were removed. It looks like the sage, one of the rosemary plants, one of the thymes, and a couple other things survived. We’ll be replacing with different things later this spring.
The garlic and shallots have continued to grow and stall with the changing weather. They should be off and growing pretty consistently from here on out. Hopefully by early April we will be able to look at each variety more in-depth to see how they survived the winter, how well they germinated, etc. The shallots are almost all looking great, and I’m really excited about those!
So they pulled all of the spinach out of the bed with the cold frame where it had survived all winter. It was starting to get a little old and the leaves were getting pointy and strong-flavored. There’s some lettuces and Swiss Chard residing there right now waiting to be planted.
Okay, so I just looked at the long-term forecast for Wichita and saw that they are predicting 84 DEGREES for tomorrow. I thought I was looking at the wrong forecast. Yes, I’ve been a bit out of it. Thankfully it goes back to more normal spring weather after that.
A look at what’s growing in my office after planting last week. Peas! Other things! To find out what I’m up to, you’ll have to come to either the Grow Good Food Workshop next weekend (March 23rd) or the first Saturday Sampler on April 6th. Yes, I know I still need to tell you all about that event.
Garden tools can be a significant investment, so we should take care of them before we leave the garden for the winter as well.
It’s always a good idea to do some garden cleanup and prep for next year in the fall. It makes spring much more enjoyable!