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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.

Friday PhotoEssay – April 29, 2016

It’s a rainy day in the demo garden. Or rather it was a rainy day, and is now a drenching, downpour day. Let’s just say that things are sufficiently watered for the foreseeable future. Of course, one of the benefits of raised beds is the improved drainage, so we will probably be watering again long before many of you!

26440885980_845464d057_zOur spring lettuces, leafy greens, cabbages, and more are growing quickly with the relatively warm, moist conditions.

26611529926_96a9c7e987_zThe quilt block lettuce had grown significantly, so we did a heavy harvest of it this week.

26364992670_f2fdcc663a_zAnother view of the lettuce with the evening light hitting the leaves.

26387428700_874863956c_zWe got a LOT of lettuce off of a 4′ x 8′ area. About 12 bags worth, I think?

26634056126_488ce18b93_z A bouquet of lettuce leaves. Many of the lettuce leaves were quite large. It was also interesting to see the different textures. The red and green oakleaf lettuces (‘Mascara’ and ‘Encino’) were much more delicate leaves. The red romaine (‘Thurinus’ – center above), was sturdy but without the thick midrib you might expect of a more mature romaine. The ‘New RedFire’ and ‘Muir’ which are leaf and summercrisp types respectively, were also sturdier leaves.

It’s not something that necessarily matters a lot, but it does affect storage life and eating quality. Some people may prefer eating the more tender leaves than the thicker leaves. However, from a storage standpoint, the sturdier leaves are going to last longer in the refrigerator due to the fact that they leaves are not as easily bruised.

26620365202_f9fcdea66f_zAnd after a lettuce-centric post, I’ll leave you with our perennial garden sage, which is happily blooming right now, even with all the rain.

Have a great weekend and stay dry!

Friday PhotoEssay – April 15, 2016

It’s that time again, and since I haven’t updated much in the last couple weeks, I have a lot to show you.

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The lettuces are really looking great, while everything else except the perennial herbs are still just barely getting going.

26405775326_a0c51593dfHere’s a closeup look at one of the quilt block lettuce gardens. We’ve had a few casualties, especially of the green variety, so the pattern isn’t perfect, but I think you can see the general idea.

25826861154_73fcabf7fdThe varieties in the other quilt block garden haven’t grown quite as fast, so it isn’t as full-looking, but you can still see the pattern.

26431720005_515dc761baAs one sign of how cold it didn’t get this past winter, our flowering sage is still alive. It is also starting to bloom again, which is very odd for this time of year. My guess is that since it didn’t die, it responded to the short daylength of spring by initiating more flowers.

26158548370_de29581f53_zWe are also trying out a new salad table this year in the Accessible Garden area. This table top garden is only 5″ deep and is intended for only shallow-rooted vegetables, primarily in spring and fall.

26158871470_68d076194b_zThe snow peas, kohlrabi, cabbage, and lettuce in the K-State Purple garden are off to a thriving start. We’ll be filling in with warm season vegetables in the next month.

That’s it for this week! Have a great weekend!