Blog Archives

Friday PhotoEssay

It’s hard to believe that it’s already April! I guess I had better believe it, since I’ve got so many things growing in my office now.

You can see from the leaves on the Bok Choy that the flea beetles are already out in force. Turning over the leaves show that the aphids are having a field day as well.

We’ve got a number of these tiny, blue spring flowers popping up around the herb garden. I call them Squill, or Siberian Squill/Scilla. I’m pretty sure that’s what they are.

The peas are starting to grow, as are the lettuces underneath the trellis. It is kind of funny to see the peas being smaller than the cabbage.

The radicchio has been growing fast this week, and the centers are starting to form very small heads. It will be a few more weeks before they are even close to a solid head.

Aren’t these guys cute as they curl up out of the soil? These are Bull’s Blood Beets growing as microgreens. I’m growing them for a Master Gardener event later this spring, and this is my first trial run.

Have a great weekend! Enjoy the weather and get some gardening done!

Planting Tomato & Pepper Seeds

Today was the day that we planted the tomato and pepper seeds for the Demonstration Garden. Thanks to the Pepper Garden, there are LOTS of peppers this year.

16 varieties of peppers, 12 varieties of tomatoes, 132 pots, 8 flats, almost 5 cu. ft. of potting mix.

Step 1: Fill the pots with potting mix, all the way to the top. I chose to use 3″ pots this year. It gets hard to keep everything watered as it is, without using smaller pots.

Step 2: Write out your labels and put them in the pots. We are using one label per pot this year. All the other systems always result in plants getting mixed up.

Step 3: Make small divots in the center of each pot (as deep as they need to be), and drop the seeds in. Cover the seeds gently and lightly.

Step 4: Water the trays gently several times to make sure that each pot gets thoroughly wet. (Sometimes it is easier to get the soil wet first, and then plant. That can make the seeds stick to your fingers though.)

Step 5: Place in a warm place under lights (or where light will be available in 2-5 days).

Step 6: Watch, wait, and keep the soil moist (not wet!).

First Seeds Started for 2011

Can you believe that it’s time to pore over catalogs and start planning the garden for 2011? We are having our first planning meeting for the Demonstration Garden next week, and I already know there are some great ideas for this summer!

One project that I’ve been meaning to try for a year and a half now is to try grafting some tomatoes. This is a fairly new and emerging technology in the U. S., although they’ve been doing it in Asia for a long time. If you want to read a very thorough article about the history of the technique and how it is done, check out this publication from North Carolina: Grafting for Disease Resistance in Heirloom Tomatoes (PDF). (The primary author on this article is our new K-State vegetable specialist, Cary Rivard. We’re excited to have him!)

Here’s the first step in the grafting procedure. I planted some seeds of 4 types of Heirloom tomatoes that I had on hand (Large Barred Boar, Rose, Brandywine, and Purple Russian). On the other side of the tray are the rootstocks, which are the variety ‘Maxifort.’ It is intended to be a rootstock variety, so it isn’t a commonly know variety. Theoretically you could use a regular hybrid that is disease resistant.

What I’m hoping to learn from this planting of seeds is how long it takes all of them to germinate. (This will be even more exciting, since all the seeds are older!) If they all happen to germinate within a 2 day window, then I will try the grafting technique when the plants reach the right size. If they don’t germinate within a 2 day window, then I will replant, staggering the plantings to get them to germinate at the same time. It should be a fun experiment for the late winter!

Getting Ready for Fall

I know you probably think I’m crazy. After all, talking about fall gardening might seem nuts when it’s been near 100 for a week, with little chance of much relief for another week, and a forecast in the 90s for the foreseeable future. However, one thing that might give you a little hope looking at that long-range forecast (even if it is about as reliable as a campaign ad) is that the overnight lows are going to be dropping down into the 60s in another 7-10 days. That means that the weather is starting to get cool enough that some of our fall veggies will tolerate it!

I’m going to be doing 2 separate trials in the garden this fall.  One involving spinach, planting dates, and overwintering with row cover fabric and the other involving a variety of root vegetables and overwintering with row cover plastic. I’ll give you a lot more details about those projects next week, after Tomato Day is over!

I did do one thing beyond planning to get started though. I planted some leek and onion seeds yesterday. I’m a little late on them…they probably should have been planted 2-3 weeks ago, but it just didn’t happen. My goal is to plant them out in the garden by early September. They’ll be on the small side, but there’s nothing like pushing the envelope on an overwintering trial!

Friday PhotoEssay

Once again, things are growing fast in the garden this week, and we are finally getting a little bit of rain!

One of the apple trees was in full bloom earlier this week, but that’s past now. All the petals have dropped. It remains to be seen whether or not any of the flowers were pollinated.

The Chinese Cabbage is getting absolutely huge. It should be starting to curl up into a loose head any time now.

Compared to the tomato transplants, the peppers are looking as healthy as can be! It’s kind of a switch for me, since I usually have great luck with tomatoes and moderate with peppers. Everything would really like to be spending more time outside, but the wind has been a little much.

The radishes haven’t minded the weather one bit. In fact, I think the roots are just barely starting to swell. We should have radishes in another 10-14 days.

I did manage to sneak the peppers and tomatoes outside for a few hours one day though. Tucking them around the currant bushes shielded them from the worst of the wind.

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