Like many local gardens, our Demonstration Garden is seeing the onset of a wide range of insects, diseases, and weather-related challenges. On the surface though, it is beginning to look like a rather overgrown jungle of green.
With the tomatoes and vine crops throughout the garden, everything is starting to look a little crazy, and I’m afraid it will only get worse before it gets much better. Of course, on the surface, everything looks beautiful. But at closer inspection, it’s not quite as pretty.
While the cracked tomatoes are by no means an uncommon sight for the Kansas gardener, it can be downright frustrating when they are cracked to the point of mushy rottenness before they are remotely close to ripe. Not to mention disgusting when you stick your finger into a rotten spot while trying to pick what looks like a good tomato. That is what happened with these two Cherokee Purple tomatoes. The combination of watering, rain, heat, and variety has made these tomatoes mush before their time. Normally we recommend harvesting before full maturity to prevent the worst cracks, but that doesn’t work in this instance.
The beans are well on their way to being crispy due to spider mites. The mites seem to have gotten started a couple weeks ago, and the progression has been such that nothing seems to help. Normally we would recommend either a hard stream of water, neem oil, or horticultural oil as a treatment. However, with the heat and high population, it will probably be time to pull these plants out in the near future.
A couple of the melon varieties have a few disease lesions on the leaves. It isn’t very severe at this point, probably because it has been relatively dry until last night. We haven’t opted to treat yet, partly because the plants are so large, but it is important to keep an eye on things like this, because it can spread quickly. In hindsight, it would have been smart to treat before last night’s rain.
What sad looking onions, you say? Well, yes. But not really. The onions flopped over at the necks is an indication that the plants are done growing and the onions can be harvested. We pulled all the onions this week, some from the Grocery Garden and the rest from the Peruvian Garden.
Just so you don’t think that all is death & destruction in our garden this week, here are some of the cucumbers we harvested. The dark green variety is Tyria, and English cucumber that had very small seeds and relatively thin skin. The white one is Lime Crisp, which was supposed to be more of a lime green color, but looks almost white. It was sweet, but had larger seeds.
Finally, the watermelons! We have several melons set and growing well. We bagged / nyloned all of them this week to ensure they can stay on the vine and keep growing well. Since we selected larger melons this year, they likely still have a few weeks of growing to do before harvest.
Have a great weekend!
We had some things to harvest today! We pulled the cippolini onions, some of the beets, one carrot, and a bunch of mustard greens!
‘Red Marble’ Cippolini Onions. These are supposed to be smaller onions that are a little bit flattened, so they are just about the size they are supposed to be. Not the same size as the big sweet onions for sure!
I just pulled one carrot to see how they were, and we decided not to pull any more today. The reason isn’t that they aren’t ready, but because we have a group of kids coming from Rainbows Camp Woodchuck on Friday and we thought they would enjoy pulling the carrots.
After we got all the compost into the raised beds on Tuesday, we had a few things to get planted. Because of our garden plans this year, we just had a couple things to plant here and there.
First, we had ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes to plant in the MG Favorites Garden. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the planting. We also had a bundle of ‘Red Marble’ cippolini onion plants to go in the ground. They came in the mail yesterday, so we needed to get them planted.
The cippolinis are relatively small onions that are much flatter than normal onions. We chose them specifically for the Italian Garden, and then decided to plant the rest in the Salsa Garden, since we already had them coming. The plants for these onions were pretty small – smaller than I’ve seen before with other onion plants. I’m assuming it is because the end product is also smaller?
We also had some Lacinato Kale to plant in the Italian Garden and some ‘Parris Island Cos’ romaine lettuce for the Master Gardener Favorites Garden. These plants were started about a month ago, but I don’t think I ever got that on the blog.
We planted spinach and radishes in the MG Favorites Garden in an area that will be under the trellis later this spring. We also planted spinach in the ‘Taste of India’ Garden.
In the Italian Garden, we planted seeds of the endive/escarole mesclun and the ‘Italiko Rosso’ dandelion (red rib dandelion).
Hopefully by next week there will be growing things to photograph!
Last year we had a Pizza Garden, this year we have a Salsa Garden. The thing that is kind of fun about the Salsa Garden this year is that we are doing it in Bed 10, which is one of the (ostensibly) 4′ x 4′ gardens. Lots of home gardeners plant gardens that size, but we usually use our small beds for miscellaneous things rather than for a themed garden. For instance, Bed 9 has horseradish and rhubarb.
Bed 10 is actually 4’6″ x 3’10”, so not quite square. It doesn’t really change anything important though, because we still had to be very judicious with how we used the space.
‘MiRoma’ is a red roma tomato that yields 5 oz. fruit on a determinate plant.
‘Golden Fresh Salsa’ is a yellow roma tomato with 3-5 oz. fruit, also on a determinate plant. The fruit are supposed to be very meaty without lots of seed gel (locular gel!) that can make salsa runny.
‘Chichimeca’ Jalapeno is a larger pepper with a kick of heat to it. We didn’t want a jalapeno that didn’t have any spice! This pepper is large for a jalapeno, with fruit about 2″ wide and 4″ long. It also is supposed to start producing earlier than other jalapenos.
For the onions, we decided to use the rest of the bunch of ‘Red Marble’ cippolinis we will be planting in the Italian garden in the spring. We will follow with probably the bunching onions from the Italian garden in the fall.
The cilantro will be planted in the early spring and once it blooms and goes to seed, we will pull it out and replant in the fall. It’s kind of a bummer that cilantro won’t grow during the peak tomato season here, but if we still have tomatoes in September, that will work out okay.
Stay tuned for a little bit more about the herbs and flowers!
We had the first of our subcommittee meetings yesterday to work on the planning for Bed 1. I don’t know what I’m going to call this garden, because it is really three different parts all in one. One end is the Vertical Garden, the middle part is Quinoa, and the other end is a Spring/Fall Italian Garden. Maybe I’ll have to nickname it the Conglomerate Garden? The Motley Mixed Garden? The Heterogeneous Garden? The Italicalnoa Garden? The Quinicalian Garden? I’ll take nominations!
The Italian section of the garden features spring and fall vegetables, with the intention of exploring what there is beyond tomatoes and basil, the quintessential Italian foods. We had a lot of fun perusing the Seeds from Italy catalog and website and trying to find the best choices for different types of vegetables. As you can see, the spring plantings include several types of greens, beans, and cippolini onions. The beans are a shelling type called ‘Lingua di Fuoco’ which translates to ‘Tongue of Fire.’ The pods have bright pink streaks!
There are lots of types of chicories to choose from, including plain chicory, endive, escarole, and radicchio. We chose a couple “Italian Dandelion” varieties of chicory to try, an endive/escarole mesclun mix, and a red radicchio/chicory for the fall.
We also will have Tuscan Kale growing all year. Sometimes the Tuscan type is called Dinosaur Kale, Nero di Toscano, or similar names.
We are going to try a bulbing variety of fennel in the fall to see if it will produce, as well as some purple bunching onions.
We are continuing to demonstrate some of the vertical gardening techniques, and the trellis/arbor over one of the walkways was such a hit last year that we decided to try it again.
‘Tonda Liscia Manduria’ Cucumber is an Italian cucumber melon that is fairly small, round, and has fuzzy skin. It tastes like a cucumber when young and ripens to taste more like a melon.
‘Escorial’ Melon is a Charentais-type melon. It is earlier maturing and hopefully will be less crack-prone than the heirloom Charentais melon.
‘Small Sugar’ Pumpkin is a pie pumpkin that produces sweet, 4-6 lb pumpkins. I’m looking forward to pie this fall!
Quinoa is a Chenopodium, which means that it is going to look a lot like lambsquarter/goosefoot when it starts growing. The flowers/seed heads are supposed to be beautiful colors, which we are all looking forward to. Depending on how hot it gets for how long this summer, we may or may not get a seed crop, but it should be interesting to try growing it! We chose the ‘Brightest Brilliant’ mix and ‘Colorado’ and the two varieties to try.