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Friday PhotoEssay

Oh my goodness, rain! We had 6.5 inches of rain last week, another 2.65 inches early this week, and another 0.3-0.4 just this morning. Things are getting a little soggy around here, and we’re starting to see some diseases that are spread by rain, including some less common ones. I checked the US Drought Monitor this morning, and even with all the rain we are still considered to be in Moderate Drought here in Sedgwick County. Of course, western Kansas is still in severe to exceptional drought!

Here’s the garden after our morning shower today. The buckwheat has doubled in size again this week and the sweet potatoes are starting to go a little bit crazy!

The ‘Limmony’ tomato was this deep gold color by Tuesday. Isn’t it gorgeous?

We harvested the carrots from the Kids’ Snack Garden this week so the spot can have a little rest before we plant something for this fall. The orange carrots are a variety called ‘Mokum,’ and they were pretty nice carrots!

The buckwheat is starting to bud and flower. We actually terminated the buckwheat in Bed 2 to prepare for planting the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage in another week. I’ll share that with you in a separate post next week, I hope. The remaining buckwheat will grow for another week or two before we turn it under.

Look at those sweet potatoes grow! I know that last week I was looking at this garden and wondering why the plants were taking so much time to fill in the last center part of the bed. Well…they took care of that pretty quick! Now to see how crazy the vines get outside the bed…

The amount of rain we’ve had isn’t always ideal. This poor Asian melon was ripening nicely, but when I checked it this morning it had cracked badly. It was not a fan of the rain, apparently.

Speaking of melons, the big watermelon fell off the vine on Tuesday when we were working with them. Ugh! I cut into it, and obviously the seedlessness worked out, but the ripeness didn’t. I didn’t think it was ripe yet, and clearly I was right on that count. The rest of our melons got some additional support this week…

It would seem that even the small watermelons are not as well adapted to growing on the trellises and cantaloupes and winter squashes. We’ve got the other watermelons all tied up with some extra support for the time being.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

Wow! The eggplant and tomatoes are sure kicking it into high gear this week! So are the spider mites and stinkbugs… Let’s take a tour of the garden!

The top end of the garden is finally starting to look like something, with the sweet potatoes growing fast and the sunflowers and vegetable arbor also looking great. You can just see the green haze of the buckwheat.

Here’s the view from the other end. I wasn’t going to show this picture because I’ve got so many this week, but I wanted you to have a better sense of just how crazy those tomato plants are getting. The one on the end is the ‘Limmony’ heirloom.

The ‘Taxi’ tomato plant continues to produce like crazy. After a couple of larger initial fruit, they have settled down into very consistent 4-5 oz fruit, which is what they are supposed to be. No signs of cracking so far, but I picked a LOT of tomatoes this morning.

We uncovered the squash in the Pizza Garden this week because it was starting to bust out from under the row cover. It had several broken leaves from being under a too-low row cover. It seems to be bouncing back just fine! It also looks to have some buds starting, and so far there is no sign of squash vine borers. Read the rest of this entry

Planting Day 2!

Today was our second big planting day, and after this we are going to have a bit of a lull for a couple weeks. I hope so, anyway!

The biggest vegetable area we had to plant was Bed 4, which is the Eggplant Trial and the Vertical Garden. Here we have all the eggplant laid out for planting. We planted 2 each of 7 different varieties. Most of the plants were looking a little rough, but they should perk up quickly after being planted. I haven’t seen any signs of flea beetles or cucumber beetles yet this spring, so that should be helpful. Last year we replanted two or three times because the poor eggplant kept getting eaten up by the cucumber beetles. We’ll keep an eye out!

This year we only have 2 of the cattle panel trellises in our vertical garden area. We wanted to take a break from so many vine crops this year. The third trellis is the one that is acting as our vegetable arbor between the Kids’ Garden and the Vertical Garden. The arbor trellis will have a cucumber and a tomato on it. The other two trellises are planted to melons, one variety on each side of each trellis. We have a couple of watermelons, which should be fun to try.

One of the watermelons, the Yellow Mini-Tiger, is a seedless yellow-fleshed watermelon. Seedless watermelons require planting of a pollinator. The seed packet had a separate envelope inside for the pollinator seeds. We planted the pollinators in the middle of the trellis and the variety seeds on either end. We market the pollinator with a stake so that we are sure to replant if the seeds don’t germinate. The seeds only had a 56% germination rate, so the company sent us an extra packet and we planted a couple more seeds than normal in each spot.

We planted the basil sections of Bed 1, even though the plants were so small. I hadn’t even put them out to get hardened off yet, so we’ll see how they like the 93 degree heat today! I hope we don’t lose too many of them.

We had time, so we put the tomato cages in place. We aren’t quite ready to mulch yet, so we didn’t put the stakes in and tie them up with zip ties. We’ll probably mulch and do that in a couple more weeks.

We also planted the Prairie Star Annuals today. They primarily went in the different containers around the garden, in the Quiet Garden, and a few in other nooks and crannies of the garden.

We made sure to give everything a dose of starter fertilizer and then a good drink of water in addition, since the forecast is predicting hot weather today and for a few more days this week.

Friday PhotoEssay: Mega Catch-Up Edition

I hope you’ve been enjoying the videos and posts on fall gardening while I’ve been out. They will continue for a few more weeks, as I’m still going to be out of the office for awhile. I’m busy at the moment, mostly with this…

She had her first outing to our community garden plot at 10 days old!

Meanwhile, things have still been going on back at the Demo Garden…

Those ugly, damaged tomato plants finally set tomatoes…They were pretty much covered with green tomatoes last weekend! Unfortunately for them, the tomato bed is going to be converted to garlic next week.

The lettuce we transplanted in the Family of 4 garden and a couple of the other beds a few weeks ago is looking great! I really missed having cool season veggies like lettuce in the garden this past spring.

Well…most of the lettuce is looking good. Apparently these friendly caterpillars found their way to our lettuce patch. UGH.

The radicchio transplants have also grown by leaps and bounds. Of course, it has been far too warm for them to develop any color yet. The red variety does have a red midrib.

The Mexican Oregano was in full bloom over the weekend. It was a very attractive plant this year and definitely thrived in the heat. Unfortunately, it got a little bit swarmed under by the melons on the trellis next to it. I also didn’t have time to do any cooking with it to share with you.

It still boggles my mind that the jicama could sit there and pretty much not grow at all for most of the summer, and then all of a sudden take off, almost like the magic beanstalk. I’m not sure if the jicama survived this week’s clean up in the garden and if it had time to develop any tubers. I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

I was impressed with how big the Thai Red Roselle had gotten in a couple weeks away. The calyxes are nice and big and red, but the fruits inside are still green.

The remainder of the vines got removed this week, although a lot of them had already come out. You can tell they were pretty much done for anyway.

A commenter asked a couple weeks ago how the lemongrass that I started from stalks from the grocery store turned out. I took several pictures and decided that this one was the best to show the size and scale of the plants. Otherwise they just look like a mass of green. The lemongrass plants are right next to one of those cattle panel trellises….just like we have in the Demo Garden. I would say that the lemongrass is at least 4 feet tall. It is also providing some nice shade to the lettuces that are planted under the trellis. I haven’t used any of the lemongrass yet, although I did cut a couple of stalks, just in case I had the time or inclination.

Taste Testing Melons

We had quite a collection of melons to taste test this week, which was a lot of fun!

We actually had one of each of the 4 different melons in the garden to taste test. You can see that we’ve got quite a selection of cut up melons here on our demo table.

The first one up to try was the ‘Lambkin’ melon. This one got huge! Much bigger than it is supposed to get. The top was still pretty green, but the bottom was quite yellow. Time to give it a try! (Remember, we tried one a few weeks back and it wasn’t quite ripe.)

You can see the pure white flesh and the tiny bit of color showing up around the seeds. It was still perhaps a week under-ripe, but it was much sweeter and more flavorful than last time we tried it.

Next up was the honeydew melon. We also tried one of these a few weeks back that wasn’t quite ripe. This one we made sure had changed color and also had a more waxy feel to the skin.

There’s the inside. Definitely a better orange color than before. Like the Lambkin Melon, this Honey Orange honeydew melon could maybe have stood 1 more week on the vine. However, it was much sweeter and more flavorful than before. Unfortunately, the only other melons still on that vine look like they are infected with some sort of virus, as the leaves are mottled and the fruit are deformed.

The third melon was the Kazakh melon, which is an heirloom. I had grown in when I worked in Ohio, and it was a super sweet, very floral tasting melon. This one wasn’t as yellow as I remembered it being, but it has kind of been sitting and not getting more yellow for a week or more, and there was some insect that looked to have taken up residence in the bottom of it. (Do you see the hole?) Time to cut it open!

Here’s what it looks like from the inside. You can see the darker ring towards the rind, indicating that it maybe isn’t as ripe as would be ideal. The other thing you might notice, if you compare it to some of the previous pictures, is that the seed cavity is much larger and the flesh is thinner. This is very typical of an heirloom melon. Again, not quite as sweet as I remembered it, perhaps under-ripe. However, it was one that almost everyone really liked when trying it! It is still a little crunchy and has a very unique flavor.

The other melon we tried was the ‘Tasty Bites’ cantaloupe, which we’ve tried before and is always very tasty! It is also far and away the most productive melon in the garden, although the vine is pretty much done producing at this point. It does have 3-4 very young melons that are not anywhere near mature yet at the very top of the trellis. Most of the others seem to have set some melons early on but have not continued attempting to produce.