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Friday PhotoEssay – September 23, 2016

It’s been a few weeks since the last Friday PhotoEssay, and the garden has definitely changed.

29876437065_555785450d_zI think the biggest change is simply the fact that while it is still a jungle out there, many of the tomatoes and vines are much more brown than green. The peppers are even starting to show some wear and tear. I think the only thing that is still unabashedly green is the luffa gourd vine…which has still not started blooming!

29793640581_8a5a5ac970On the other hand, we planted the Passionflower vine for the flowers and caterpillars, but we do have some fruit set. I don’t know if it will ripen before it gets cold, but it’s still pretty neat to have fruit.

29762973422_6ea8ea03dbThere was a point where I think we all felt like the Ginger bed wasn’t going to amount to much, but the plants have really done well! Clockwise from the left-most plant: Greater Galangal, Turmeric, Ginger, Cardamom. We are going to try digging the plants, potting them up, and keeping them for next year.

29793648681_c754bb8e69While the Black Scorzonera doesn’t look like much from the top, I’m actually very pleased with how the plants are doing. What remains to be seen is what the roots look like, but it typically isn’t harvested until after a couple frosts, so we have some time yet.

29793656061_e0dc1c5068The flowering purple carrot / false Ammi from the Purple Garden has really started looking good. It took all season, but it has some nice flowers on it now. Because it’s technically a carrot that bolts easily, if we pulled it the roots should look like a poor quality purple carrot.

29841977936_1a3e6da1c9_zOur pollinator / herb garden is looking really good right now, although the milkweeds are getting a bit gangly. The zinnias in particular are very attractive. Now all we need is for the sages to be in full bloom!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – July 15, 2016

With another week of sun, rain, and heat, the garden continues to grow quickly. Many of our vines and other warm season vegetables are finally putting on some good growth. Surprisingly, the tomatoes are still looking really good with minimal signs of disease or other problems.

28221838142_cbcf2fb300_zMany of the plants have reached full-size, although the vining crops have yet to fill the trellises.

28325457545_aa71fc5e8fThe Oriental Garden is really starting to look good. This ‘Ladyfinger’ okra didn’t germinate very well, but looking at the plants now, I’m glad that we only have 4 or 5 plants. They are starting to take over the surrounding area already! There are just a few buds starting to develop. Maybe by next week there will be some okra to show.

28041839650_631a1733b2

The ‘Goddess’ banana peppers are showing off this summer. We’ve grown banana peppers many times, but this variety is by far the most productive of the ones we’ve grown recently. The three plants have been loaded with peppers.

28221842412_58e03ea6dfThe Pollinator garden is looking great with bright colors of the milkweeds, zinnias, and sages. This garden will just continue to grow, change, and get more beautiful as the summer progresses.

28247003151_3433aeda65As I said earlier, the vines are just starting to take off. This is the Oriental garden. The left side of the trellises has beans and the luffa gourd. The right side of the trellises has cucmbers and melons. They are just starting to set fruit.

28222032172_6fcf0435ef_zDo you know what this is? It is the flower of a passionflower/passionfruit vine. I don’t know if it will actually produce fruit, but we are watching it grow and bloom in our Pollinator Garden. It is just starting to climb up the trellis.

Have a great weekend!

2016 Garden Plans: Hops & Gingers

The final two raised beds are both 4’x4′ square beds.

In Bed 9, we are planting a ‘Cascade’ Hops vine to grow for the next few years. Hops are used for brewing beer, and we have been getting more and more questions about growing them. The young shoots of the vine can also be harvested like asparagus and eaten. The vine can grow 10+ feet per year. It is also a good food source for butterflies. We ended up planting some caraway seeds around the hops vine as well, just to fill the space until it grows.

Bed 10 is not yet planted, since the weather isn’t quite warm enough yet. This bed will feature plants from the Ginger family (Zingiberaceae).

Ginger used fresh is becoming more familiar to the average American cook, but it is still uncommon in the garden due to the tropical characteristics of the plant. Other flavoring or spice plants that are in the same family of tropical include cardamom, turmeric, and galangal. These plants will also have a share of this garden. It remains to be seen if they will do much, but it will be fun to watch them grow.

Friday PhotoEssay – May 6, 2016

It was planting week in the Demo Garden! If you go back and look at the last whole garden picture, you can see just how much the garden has changed in just a couple of weeks. We planted the tomatoes on Tuesday and the peppers, eggplant, and annual flowers today. Whole GardenMay 6, 2016 (2)

The only things still to plant are the cucumbers, melons, and a few other very warm season things like our oddball root vegetables and tropicals. (More to come on some of those things next week.)

Both the winged beans and the blue butterfly pea (vining flower, not edible pea) required soaking before planting. The winged bean actually recommended soaking and pre-sprouting before planting. You can see these seeds have swollen, broken the seed coat, and are just starting to put out the first tiny shoot.

This is the ‘Black Beauty’ tomato plant. I don’t know if it is the weather or just a characteristic of that plant, but the older leaves have a purple cast to them. Normally I would call it a phosphorus deficiency, but it doesn’t look quite right, so I am wondering if the plant has extra purple pigment due to the anthocyanins in the fruit?

Since we’re on the topic of odd tomato plants, take a look at this cute little guy. It almost looks like a new potato coming up, but it is definitely a tomato. It is still short, but it is the same age as the large plants we transplanted. This is the ‘Patio Plum’ tomato, which is supposed to be very columnar but also compact. So far it is clearly very compact!

For the last two years, the pollinator garden has been beautiful by the end of the season, and I always regretted not taking pictures of it every week to catalog the changes. I’m going to try to take regular pictures of it too this year.

Have a great weekend!

2016 Garden Plans: Other Herbs

There are three other areas containing herbs that we haven’t discussed yet this year: Bed 7, Bed 8, and the containers.

Bed 7 houses our grapevine (‘Himrod’) with 6 or 7 varieties of thyme underneath it. These haven’t changed much since planting, except they have continued to grow and expand in the bed. The ‘Rose Scented’ thyme has been a pleasant surprise over the past few years with how vigorous and attractive it is.

Bed 8 has been our perennial herb garden, but it is shifting focus very slightly this year to be a kitchen garden with a few of the more common annuals in the bed as well.

Most of the perennials look great after the mild winter, with the salad burnet, chives, and sage all blooming right now. The tarragon also looks great. Additions will be two basils and a lemon verbena.

The other area that is shifting slightly are the containers. We’ve had herbs in them for the last few years, but this year we wanted to change it up a bit and focus on herbs that can be used in teas. Many of the herbs have lemon or orange flavor. We have also included stevia and chamomile.