Finally, the garden bed that many of you have been waiting to see…the tomatoes! Tomatoes are easily the most popular garden vegetable, and most visitors to our garden want to see how our tomatoes are doing.
We don’t have a theme for the tomatoes this year, other than trying to have a range of varieties showcased.
We do, however, have a few different caging / staking / trellising methods planned. As you may have noticed in the Bed 2 plans and again with this bed, we will be featuring one of our A-frame trellises over the walkway again this year. We are also growing a couple other tomatoes on a trellis in the bed. Then we have a determinate tomato in a cage, and the remainder of the varieties (both determinate and indeterminate) using the stake & weave system with metal posts and twine.
Trellises: On the trellises we are growing some cherry / saladette type tomatoes.
‘Verona’ is a variety that is similar to ‘Juliet’ but is reputed to be slightly larger and more flavorful.
‘Esterina’ is a gold cherry tomato that has high yields and good crack resistance.
‘Lucky Tiger Cherry’ is an elongated, green-striped cherry tomato with a red blush. It has a sweet-tart flavor.
Caged Determinate: ‘Early Doll’ is an early maturing (55 days) variety with 4-5 oz. fruit.
Stake & Weave: We are showcasing several different types that will demonstrate how the system works for different sized plants. We are planting two of each variety.
‘Beefy Boy’ is a red, hybrid beefsteak that we had in the garden last year. It yielded well, but had some cracking issues. 12-16 oz. fruit. Indeterminate.
‘Tiren’ is an Italian hybrid that is similar in shape to the heirloom San Marzano, but is earlier and higher yielding. 5-6 oz. fruit. Indeterminate.
‘Goliath Original’ is a highly disease resistant hybrid with 10-15 oz. red fruit. Indeterminate.
‘Orange Slice’ is an orange colored beefsteak with fruit up to 16 oz. Indeterminate.
Our second garden bed this year is featuring things purple. I think the name that has waffled between “K-State Purple Garden” and “For the Love of Purple” garden. At any rate, we are growing and eating purple plants!
As you can see, we have gone a little bit crazy trying to fit as many different purple plants into the garden as possible. (Full disclosure – there are a couple things that are white too, just to highlight the K-State-ness of it and to help show the purple better!)
The garden plan pictured above is not the final plan, just a temporary plan to make sure we have space for everything. We hope to rearrange the plants into a more ornamental-edible garden before we are ready to plant.
1 & 2: ‘Cardinal’ Basil has attractive purple flower heads while ‘Aromatto’ basil has purple stems, flower bracts, and purple-green foliage.
3 & 8. ‘Goodwin Creek’ and ‘Otto Quast’ Lavenders both bloom purple the first growing season. We grow these varieties as annuals here.
4 & 6. ‘Benary Giant Purple / White’ Zinnias are the most common cutflower zinnia. We’ll have both purple and white varieties.
5. ‘Dara’ Ammi is actually a falsa Ammi that is a carrot. But this carrot doesn’t often develop a good root and does bloom readily with a range of white to purple flowers.
7. Vinca and Gomphrena will add some more purple flowers to the mix.
9. ‘Integro’ is a red / purple cabbage with medium sized heads.
10. ‘Kolibri’ is a purple, hybrid kohlrabi.
11. ‘Ip Ssam Hong’ is a purple chinese cabbage that doesn’t form solid heads.
12. ‘Amethyst’ is a spring radish with purple skin and white flesh.
13. ‘Thurinus’ lettuce is a dark red/purple romaine that we grew in the garden last year and decided to reprise.
14. ‘Hansel’ Eggplant is an All America Selections winner from 2008 that features small, slender, dark purple fruit that are great for grilling.
15. ‘Gretel’ Eggplant is a 2009 AAS winner that has fruit similar to ‘Hansel’ but white.
16. ‘Islander’ is a bell pepper that has lavender skin which then ripens from yellow to orange to red.
17. Purple Cayenne pepper is just that – a cayenne pepper with purple fruit and a purple tinge to the leaves as well.
18. ‘Purple Star’ is another purple bell pepper. It starts as a dark amethyst purple and ripens to red.
19. ‘Royal Snow’ snow peas are a purple podded snow pea. Most descriptions say that purple podded peas are a little bit bitter, so we will have to try it and report back!
20. ‘Purple King’ pole bean will be planted on the same trellis as the snow peas, but in the mid-late summer for a fall crop. As we discovered last year, fall planted pole beans are much more productive than spring.
21. ‘Black Beauty’ tomato is one of the newer varieties with the very dark purple / “indigo” coloration of the skin. This one is more a slicer size with red interior flesh. This one is purported to have great flavor.
22. ‘Fairy Tale’ eggplant is another AAS winner from 2005. It also has small fruit but with white and purple streaks. We have grown this before, but several years ago.
23. ‘Purple Bumblebee’ tomato is a cherry tomato that is a more traditional purple tomato color – similar to chocolate cherry – but with metallic green stripes.
24. ‘Graffiti’ Cauliflower is a purple-headed cauliflower. It is the only hybrid purple cauliflower, and has by far the best purple coloration of any purple variety. We will be planting this for fall.
25. ‘Rosalind’ Broccoli is a purple-headed broccoli. This will also be fall-planted.
26. ‘Purple 68’ Carrot is a variety that has deep purple coloration all the way to the center of the root. It is best grown in the fall.
27. ‘Da Hong Summer’ is a purple bok choy that is bolt-resistant.
28. ‘Redbor’ Kale is a purple kale that has deeper color the colder it gets in the fall.
While we are planning on growing a wide variety of peppers in most of Bed 1, we have the two square tiers that are also part of Bed 1. We chose to plant lettuce in those beds for the spring, followed by cover crops, followed by a fall planting of garlic.
However, we aren’t just planting lettuce in rows this spring. We wanted to change it up and show how you might use lettuce to be part of an edible landscape in place of other ornamentals.
What do those look like? If you said quilt blocks, you would be right! I found the idea in some youth gardening materials and thought it would be a fun way to arrange some of our usual spring salad gardens rather than the straight rows. We are trying a couple new (to us) varieties of oak leaf lettuce, ‘Mascara’ and ‘Encino.’ The other lettuces are leaf and romaine lettuces that we grew last year.
The two garlic varieties are a couple that I thought looked interesting, but we will see what is available when the time to order garlic arrives this summer.
We have been hard at work planning what will go in each raised bed of the Demonstration Garden the past few weeks. Now, the plans are done, seeds are ordered, and we are getting geared up for planting. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing our detailed bed plans with you so you can plant along with us or at least garden vicariously!
Since Capsicums are the Herb of the Year this year, we wanted to feature a wide range of peppers, including some that are typically used as spices or for seasoning. There are also some new sweet pepper varieties out there, including some new All America Selections that we wanted to try.
Half of the bed will feature “hot” peppers / seasoning peppers. The other half will have the various sweet peppers. Normally I like to have us try more than a single plant of a variety. However, hot peppers are typically such heavy producers that we were afraid we would be swamped in a sea of hot peppers. We opted to plant single plants for each of 10 hot pepper varieties. The sweet peppers will have 3 plants of each variety.
- ‘Feher Ozon’ Sweet Paprika pepper – This is an heirloom pepper that is dried and ground to make sweet paprika powder.
- ‘Leutschauer’ Hot Paprika pepper – This is an heirloom pepper that is dried and ground to make hot paprika powder.
- ‘Flaming Flare’ Fresno pepper – An All America Selection, sweet red pepper with mild heat.
- ‘Aji Amarillo’ pepper, aka Aji Limon, aka Lemon Drop Hot Pepper – This Peruvian hot pepper is yellow and has a citrusy accent to the heat.
- Thai Chili – Sometimes called Birds Eye Chili, these peppers are quite spicy and used in Thai cuisine.
- Hungarian Hot Wax – Another heirloom, these peppers start pale yellow and ripen to red. They are often pickled.
- ‘Espelette’ Basque Fryer Pepper – This is a type of frying pepper that is from the Basque region. Also dried and used for powder.
- ‘Tabasco’ pepper – Yes, used to make Tabasco sauce.
- ‘Sweet Heat’ Pepper – Another red, sweet pepper with some mild heat. I’ve grown this one at home, and it is great on pizza.
- Aleppo Pepper – A Middle Eastern pepper that is typically dried and crushed.
- ‘Red Knight’ is a bell pepper that turns red at maturity.
- ‘Escamillo’ is an All America Selection that is a golden-colored, bullhorn type pepper.
- ‘Tawny Port’ is a bell pepper that is a brown/maroon color.
- ‘Tangerine Dream’ is a orange, sweet snack pepper.
- ‘Great Stuff’ is a green bell pepper that can reach sizes of 5″ across and 7″ long!
- ‘Goddess’ is a sweet banana pepper.
I think we may be swimming in peppers this year, if all goes well. I’m excited to try some of these new (and old) varieties!
You may find it hard to believe that we jump right in to planning our Demonstration Garden the first week of the new year, but we do! This allows us plenty of time to plan, order seeds, start seeds, and get everything growing in the garden in a timely fashion.
Our Master Gardener Demonstration Garden committee met this past Tuesday to start the planning process and decide what the themes are going to be for our garden beds this year. We always have fun thinking about new things we could try growing.
Here is our overall garden plan for the 2016 garden:
Bed 1: Peppers are the Herb of the Year, so we will be showcasing a wide variety of peppers this year. We will also do some leafy greens in the spring and fall in a “quilt block” pattern.
Bed 2: There are so many new purple vegetables, herbs, and other edibles that we thought it would be fun to do an all purple garden.
Bed 3: Tomatoes! We don’t know yet what we will showcase, just that there will be tomatoes.
Bed 4: We will be featuring some Oriental vegetables that can be grown successfully in Kansas – some common, others not so much.
Bed 5: Our popular herbs & pollinator flowers garden will be moved to Bed 5 for this year.
Bed 6: Root vegetables – some old favorites, but also possibly some less- common roots.
Bed 7: Grape vine and thymes
Bed 8: Perennial herbs
Bed 9: We thought it might be fun to try Hops in advance of 2019 when it is Herb of the Year.
Bed 10: Plants from the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) family, such as ginger, cardamom, galangal, turmeric, etc.
Accessible Garden/Containers: We are going to feature some of the new “compact” or container-type tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and more. We may also try out a new salad table design from our Hort Therapy committee and make a “pallet” garden like those that have been so popular on Pinterest and Facebook last year.
As you can see, we have some exciting things coming your way this summer, so stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks!