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Friday VideoEssay – May 26, 2017

For a change of pace, here’s a video essay this week!

Friday PhotoEssay – May 12, 2017

After a week of warmer temperatures and MORE rain, the garden has grown a lot! We also planted some of the warm season plants and plan to plant more this coming week.

34231794200_e95264ba42The peas in particular have grown significantly and most of them are starting to flower.

34231788430_65499ea637Most years, we may have one variety of peas planted in one area. This year we have 5 different pea varieties – one heirloom shelling pea, one snow pea, one sugar snap pea, and two peas for containers. This is the ‘Peas in a Pot’ variety. It is about 10 inches tlal and is already flowering and setting pods.

33807921763_c929f5e276The sprouting broccoli in the barrel planter is starting to head in the center. Next week we will probably remove that small head in order to encourage development of side shoots. Sprouting broccoli doesn’t form large central heads, but it won’t be very productive if the central head isn’t removed.

33807911803_e4344969faThe tomatoes were all planted this week, although we are waiting until next week for the peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and melons. Because of the grafted plants, we couldn’t plant them deeper, resulting in some creative staking to keep the plants upright until the stems have gotten stronger.

33807915973_5304bb488aWe planted this Dragon Tongue Arugula in the Grocery Garden. This variety has highly lobed leaves with red veins. It has proven to be a very slow grower so far and the germination wasn’t great. We will wait and see if it improves with time.

33774984114_6a2ae6f114The new Prairie Star Annual trial garden was planted this week too. If you have driven by, you probably saw the row of big containers. These are for demonstrating the Prairie Star Annual Flower trials. We are excited for this new usage of the front of the Demo Garden space. Hopefully this area will be a beautiful color show all summer.

Friday PhotoEssay – June 3, 2016

It seems as though the recent rainy spell has come to an end, and we had a lot of catch up to do in the garden this week.

The tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, and peas have been growing well despite the rain and cool temperatures. The peppers and eggplant are languishing a bit, and some of the vine crops haven’t come up well.

Despite the fact that it hasn’t been that warm, some of the lettuces have still started bolting, particularly the oakleaf varieties. We harvested heavily yesterday, leaving these “lettuce trees” behind. Normally the main lettuce stem stays squat and near the ground. These are bolting (going to seed) and so the stem has lengthened out to put on the flower stalk. We will probably remove the lettuce from this bed next week. The lettuce in the other quilt block is more heat tolerant and isn’t bolting yet.

When we planted the Black Scorzonera seeds, we were a little bit concerned because it was supposed to take up to three weeks to germinate and the soil needed to be kept moist. Thankfully, the soil staying moist wasn’t an issue at all! We also had very quick and high germination. I’m excited to see how these do.

The tomatoes took advantage of the weather to get a little bit taller than I might have preferred before the first tie on the stake & weave. We did that yesterday. We also removed the lower suckers from the plants. If you’ve never seen a stake & weave system in person, come out and take a look over the next few weeks as the plants grow.

The tomatoes on the cattle panel trellis have also been growing well. We removed the larger suckers on these as well and used plant clips to attach them to the trellis.

We harvested a bunch of the purple kohlrabi this week, leaving just a few of the smaller ones for another time. They have done very well!

The K-State Purple garden is really showing off right now…we also harvested a nice amount of purple snow peas from the trellis.

Last but not least, a quick check-in with our Pollinator garden. It’s doing well, although hasn’t filled in much with the cool weather.

Have a great weekend!

How Do You Know When to Pick Dry Beans & Peas?

This year in the Demo Garden we have several types of beans and peas that are typically harvested in their “dry” state rather than the fresh state. I don’t usually recommend that most home gardeners plant these types of crops, simply because the yield is too low for the amount of space you can dedicate to them, especially if you eat lots of dried beans! However, we had a couple of instances where we wanted to demonstrate this type of crop this year, so we went for it.

Of course, one of the challenges for a Demonstration Garden like us is that we like everything to be attractive all the time. And drying down beans isn’t really an attractive process, especially when you add Spider Mites to the mix.

We have the ‘Lingua di Fuoco’ Borlotto Beans in the Italian Garden and the cowpeas and chickpeas in the Taste of India Garden. So, how do you know when to harvest? The picture above is of the ‘Lingua di Fuoco’ beans that are clearly nearing the end of their lives. But just because the plants look bad doesn’t necessarily mean it is time to pick the beans.

Ideally, you want to leave the pods on the plants until the pods feel dry and crispy (no moisture in the pods). This usually means that the beans are nearly dry or fully dry and they can be shelled and stored. If there is still moisture in the pods, but we are expecting a rainy spell (which could cause mold) you could pick the beans and lay them out on a screen to dry the rest of the way. You don’t want to pick green pods unless you are planning to eat the beans in the fresh state rather than drying them.

The cowpeas are a little different, in that the pods start drying well, but the plants are still crazy and growing. In comparison, the bush beans are pretty much done. Again, the key is for the pods to be dry with beans rattling in them when you give a little shake.

The chickpeas are pretty similar. The plants are showing more signs of dying back than the cowpeas, but there are already dry pods. There are also a lot of empty pods. While it could be the heat, many of the empty pods have a hole in them, indicating to me that there are some opportunistic caterpillars around!

And yes, this variety of chickpea, ‘Black Kabouli,’ is supposed to be black.

So when the peas or beans are perfectly dry (either after picking or after letting them dry more) they are ready to be stored in jars or bags until you want to use them. If they are well dried, they should be able to just sit in the cupboard. I would say it is also important to sort through them before storage and get rid of any that show signs of mold or moisture.

Friday PhotoEssay

How about all that rain this week? I’ll be honest that excessive rain comes with its own problems in the garden, but I can’t complain too much yet. If we’re getting 3 inches of rain a week all summer…well…there are limits. That should help with the Cheney Reservoir though. We could only be so lucky in that case. We ended up with 3.3 inches yesterday, and we really saw the benefits of our drainage system, as we had no standing water in the garden at all.

Here’s the whole garden today. The main visible difference is the addition of the straw mulch, although there are many more changes when you get closer!

The sugar snap peas are continuing to produce just enough for a little snack when you walk through the garden. I guess that’s the point of the Snack Garden, right? Read the rest of this entry