It is once again the time of year where we plan what will be featured in our Demonstration Garden for the season. As always, we have a great mix of tried-and-true vegetables and some new and interesting things. When it is cold and snowy, it is a lot of fun to think about what will be growing in the garden in just a few short weeks. We will be starting the first of our seeds next week and it is all downhill from there!
Below you will find maps for each of our raised garden beds. The maps show the overall theme or focus for each bed as well as the specific varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers we will have growing.
Our tomatoes are in Bed 1 this year. Because of how this raised bed is structured, we will have roma tomatoes in one end, early maturing varieties on the other end, and some more common “comparison” varieties in the middle. The roma tomato varieties are a mixture of hybrids and heirlooms, with different colors, sizes, and shapes. We chose the “early maturing” theme because everyone always likes to have the first tomatoes! The six varieties we chose also are a mix of hybrid and heirlooms, with maturity dates ranging from 54 to 65 days from transplanting.
Bed 2 will feature a mix of cool season vegetables that are planted both in spring and fall. The spring plantings feature leafy greens, peas, carrots, radishes, and kohlrabi. The fall plantings feature two new cauliflower varieties, beets, daikon radishes, lettuce, spinach, and carrots. Our plan is to put row covers over at least part of the fall plantings to extend the growing season and overwinter them.
The theme for Bed 3 is the “Kansas Backyard Garden.” The idea is to feature common vegetables grown in Kansas. Most of the varieties are not too far out there either. A couple things that I’m excited about though are the bush-type vine crops. We are trying both a new bush watermelon variety, ‘Cal Sweet Bush’ that has only 18″ long vines, and ‘Cherokee Bush’ pumpkin that has about a 4′ spread.
On the other hand, Bed 5 is a long way from Kansas! We are featuring vegetables that are indigenous to Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa. Researching this garden was an education, because we discovered that some of our common ornamentals were originally edible vegetables in Africa! Vegetables that you may be familiar with are eggplant, okra, kale, and peanuts. You may be less familiar with cowpeas, long beans (a type of cowpea), amaranth, cleome, celosia, and bambara beans.
You probably do know amaranth – but as pigweed. There are colored leaf varieties and varieties that have been cultivated for edible greens. Other varieties are grown for flowers and seeds. Cleome is a ornamental flower we know, but most of us haven’t eaten the foliage as a vegetable! Celosia is another common flower that you may have grown for color. But the leaves and young flowers can also be eaten as a vegetable.
Cowpeas, long beans, and bambara beans are all from the genus Vigna. Cowpeas you may recognize. The long beans are vining beans that produce 18″ long edible pods. Bambara beans are kind of like cowpeas…the peas look a lot like the cowpeas. But they are kind of like peanuts…the pods grow underground.
One of the best things about this garden theme is that these are all vegetables that thrive in hot climates, so we are excited to see how they do in Kansas!
For a second year, we have a bed that we are calling our “SNAP-Ed” bed. This bed is a demonstration of how to garden on a very small budget, using only seeds and plants that can be purchased from a store where it is possible to use the SNAP EBT (food stamp) benefits.
Also a reprise from last year is Bed 6. Agastache is the Herb of the Year featured at our Herb Day event on May 4th, so we kept this bed in the same location with several overwintering agastache varieties. The flowers and herbs are chosen for the attractiveness to butterflies and other pollinators.
Beds 8, 9, and 10 are all 4′ x 4′ beds. Bed 8 will feature ornamental gourds on a trellis. Bed 9 will feature sunflowers. Bed 10 will feature a popcorn variety called ‘Glass Gem.’
In the accessible garden area, we are featuring a “Salsa Garden” theme. In the tiered raised bed will be a roma tomato, herbs, and peppers. In the barrel planters will be a trailing tomato variety, more herbs, and some green onions.
Our containers around the garden will feature flowers this year, especially some new varieties of Pentas. We are excited for spring! What are you planning to plant this year?
It’s the time of year when gardeners are starting to think about their plans for the upcoming season…no matter how cold, snowy, or icy it may be! Our Master Gardeners are no exception, and they worked hard to plan all these different beds in our Demonstration Garden over the past several weeks.
This is an overview of our garden layout with the themes for each bed. Both Beds 1 and 4 are split in halves for two different themes this year.
Bed 1 will feature Brassicas on one half in the spring and carrots in the fall. The Brussels Sprouts will grow through the season. The other half of this bed will be vegetables that have snack value and interest for children.
Bed 2 is our Tomato garden this year. The trellis and half of the cages will feature varieties that are “indigo” types. These have a gene that promotes anthocyanins and a very dark, purple-black color on the shoulders. I’ll guarantee you that the fruit will be unique! The other three varieties are beefsteak tomatoes (more than 10 oz fruit) that also happen to grow on compact vines.
The SNAP-Ed garden in bed 3 is a new project for us in partnership with our nutrition educators. This garden is also divided in half, and each half has a budget of $30 to spend, total. This includes seeds, plants, fertilizers, and any trellising structures or materials. The general plans are as pictured, but specific varieties will be determined based on what is available at retailers that can take SNAP (Vision cards / food assistance) benefits, as those on SNAP can use those dollars to purchase seeds and plants for a food garden. We will also be tracking the methods used, the total yield, and the value / return on investment of each garden half.
Bed 4 is also divided into two separate themes. Half will feature heirloom shelling beans (dry beans), with 4 varieties of pole beans on trellises and two varieties of bush beans. The other half will feature Italian vegetables and herbs.
Bed 5 is our “Miscellany” garden. In other words, things we wanted to try (or plant again) that didn’t fit into any of the other beds’ themes.
The Herbs / Pollinators garden is returning to Bed 6 this year, with some similar things and some new things, including a cascading ornamental oregano and some different types of Agastache.
After several years as our Kitchen Herb Garden, Bed 8 will be home to our Edible Flowers garden this year. Did you know that all those flowers are edible?
Bed 9 is still the Hops plant for at least one more year. Bed 10 has been designated as the “Year-Round Salads” garden. Featuring lettuce in the early spring, spinach in the late fall, and a mixture of less common, heat tolerant greens in the summer. With orach, amaranth, and goosefoot, it’s going to look a bit like a weed bed to start with!
The accessible gardens will reprise some of the plants found in other areas of the garden, but with more confined growing conditions of the planters.
The barrel planters will include some greens, herbs, and radishes.
Last, but definitely NOT least, the containers on the inside perimeter of our garden will feature a range of peppers. The goal is to start with the sweet peppers on one side of the garden, and gradually increase the Scoville (heat) level around the garden.
Not pictured or listed, we will also continue to have gingers in some of the shadier containers, as well as herbs. We will be showcasing a wide range of rosemary in one set of containers, including varieties that we can only grow as annuals. Outside the garden, the annual flower demonstrations will continue in the large containers.
There you have it, our complete vegetable garden plans for 2018! As always, we have some exciting, new, and different things planned for the year. We will be starting seeds this week for some of the earliest plantings.
Several years ago, we did a garden called the Family of 4 Garden. We always weighed the produce harvested and assigned it a dollar value based on grocery store prices. It’s been a few years since we did that, and we are bringing this back in a revised form as the “Grocery Garden.”
For spring, we have both a snow and a sugar snap pea on the trellis, as well as some high quality mixed greens under the trellis. We will have lettuces, spinach, arugula, and mesclun. The spring plantings will also feature purple and yellow carrots, cylindrical and gold beets, and red cippolini onions. We have also planned for a Romano (flat podded Italian) green bean.
Of course, any grocery garden wouldn’t be complete without tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. We opted to reprise the ‘Esterina’ cherry tomato from last year, as well as the ‘Escamillo’ and ‘Red Knight’ peppers. We are also including another Oriental eggplant, a lavender long skinny variety called ‘Bride.’
Once the peas are done in the late spring or early summer, we will replace them with a spaghetti squash and a butternut squash on the trellis. Other fall vegetables will include a mixture of the leafy greens, some leeks, cauliflower, and broccoli. The cauliflower is a green romanesco variety called ‘Veronica’ and the broccoli will be a purple sprouting broccoli, ‘Santee.’
We will be tracking the yield and dollar value of these vegetables throughout the season.
We held our first planning meeting for Demo Garden 2017 last week. As always, I’m excited to see what will come from this year’s garden!
This is the overall plan for 2017. In order to fit our rotations in for the tomato plants, they will be in our smaller beds 5 & 6 this year. We are also doing a garden featuring Peruvian vegetables and the vertical garden will feature melons and cucumbers.
The Grocery Garden is a retread of a garden we used to do called the Family of 4 Garden. The Grocery Garden will feature vegetables that are expensive in the grocery store. We will be weighing and calculating value throughout the season.
Bed 1 is split between two garden themes, with Dye Plants in one half and Colonial/Early American Heirlooms in the other half. We will also be demonstrating mixed flower/herb/vegetable plantings in the containers throughout the garden.
Our detailed planning meetings are already underway, so look for more on our 2017 plans soon!
In 2010, we did an Asian garden and in 2013 we did an Indian (Asia) garden. This year we wanted to reprise the theme while focusing on specifically southeast Asian / Chinese / Japanese vegetables.
As you can see, we have yet another garden with lots of different varieties and lots of complexity going on. Many oriental vegetables are cool season, which means they are either planted in the spring or fall (or both), which allows us to try many more varieties in one growing season.
1-5. We have a selection of herbs common in Asian cooking. FYI – Flowering Chinese Leek is just another name for Garlic Chives!
6. ‘Ladyfinger’ Okra is supposed to be smooth and tender even at larger sizes.
7. ‘Round Purple’ Eggplant is just that – a round, purple variety.
8. ‘Choryoku’ Eggplant is a long, narrow green variety.
9. ‘Fushimi’ pepper is a thin-skinned sweet Japanese pepper.
10. Winged bean is a variety that produces pea-like pods but with winged edges. It’s hard to describe, so you’ll just have to wait and see it!
11. ‘Tokita Scarlet’ Carrot is a red carrot variety.
12. ‘Hybrid Fuji’ kohrabi is a large, green variety.
13. ‘Hakurei’ Turnip is a white, salad-type turnip that is good for eating raw.
14. ‘Summer Top’ Cucumber is a burpless, oriental variety that produced 9-10″ long cucumbers and has good disease resistance.
15. ‘Purple Red Mart’ Long Bean is a long bean that will grow on a trellis and produce 15-18″ beans that are purple in color. We were especially interested in this variety because they are supposed to turn black when cooked. Yum!
16-18. Mizuna and Mustards – the mizuna is purple-veined to purple leaved (not pure seed lot) and the mustards are very finely frilled varieties that are a bit spicy and good for salads.
19. ‘Dok Hybrid’ Luffa is a luffa gourd that can also be eaten like a zucchini at the immature stage.
20. ‘Hybrid Golden Honey’ Melon is a yellow-skinned melon with floral white flesh.
21. ‘Green Lance’ Chinese Broccoli is not a head forming type of broccoli, but rather one that has lots of smaller shoots.
While it may seem like there are some strange things in this garden, many of them are similar to other plants we have grown in the past, so I’m pretty confident in their productivity. I will be honest that I’m already plotting what recipes I can try with all these vegetables though!