Blog Archives

Starting Jicama Seeds

In our Mexican Garden this year we are going to make an attempt at growing Jicama. You may have seen it in the grocery store – a big, tan tuber with crunchy white flesh. (Yeah, I know that describes a lot of tubers.) Jicama is a vining plant that produces the edible tubers at the end of its growing season, which is typically 7-9 months. Obviously we are borderline as far as getting a crop here!

We got the seeds from Bountiful Gardens, and even though we aren’t sure when we’ll be ready to plant outdoors, I decided to get these seeds going. It’s going to be tight getting them to produce this year anyway without creating any further delay. If they get too big before the garden is ready, we’ll just have to put them in a pot for the time being.

Before starting, read the back of the seed packet! There’s all kinds of good information there! For instance, we learn that it is best to soak the seed overnight before planting and to plant the seeds 1 inch deep.

Here are the seeds soaking in a cup of warm water. I started with the water probably about 95-110 degrees. (Same temperature as for yeast when you are making bread!) It cools down as it sits, but no need to change the water.

The light stand is finally looking less barren! It has had a much longer break than usual this year. I also planted the seeds for the Thai Red Roselle (Edible Hibiscus) and for the Thunbergia (Black-Eyed Susan Vine).

Next week we will hopefully start some hanging basket tomatoes to hedge against not getting the garden planted in a timely fashion this year. In a couple more weeks, we should be ready to plant the bulk of the tomato and pepper seeds – IF it looks like we are likely to have the garden ready to plant by mid-May. They have been making good progress on the classroom area structure, despite the rain. However, I suspect it will be several more days before it is dry enough to even think about laying pavers.

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 Workday in the Garden

We had our first Demo Garden workday of the season this morning. Everyone worked hard from about 10:30 until noon! There was really a lot more to do than I expected. (Hopefully our Compost committee will follow up with a workday, since we gave them a big pile of debris to compost!)

We started planting the Family of 4 Garden today, putting in some peas, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and radishes.

We are using the original cattle panel trellis in the Family of 4 Garden this year. We put in the trellis and planted sugar snap peas along the edges. Then we planted some lettuce seeds under the trellis, just for fun. The green plants in front of the trellis are cabbage.

We also planted lettuce and spinach seedlings in the Family of 4 Garden. Normally we would just plant the seeds, but since we want to harvest quickly and then plant tomatoes in this area, we decided to start the seeds inside for a head start.

Meanwhile, in the “Early & Late Tomato Garden,” we planted some kale, bok choy, cabbage, and leeks that were left over from the Garden Show. (Actually, the leeks have been in the garden all winter, we just transplanted them.) These veggies will be in the garden until mid-June, when we plant our second round of tomatoes.

On Doing a Little Research Before Jumping In

Last Friday, I posted a picture of our Bachelor Buttons that we planted back in August. They will grow this fall, and hopefully survive the winter to bloom next spring. At the same time we planted the Bachelor Buttons, we also planted Larkspur seeds. They are another flower that is best planted in the fall in Kansas. Unfortunately, none of them grew! I assumed that we must have had poor quality seed and moved on. We planted some mixed lettuces in that area for fall salads. The lettuce is now doing great, but we are seeing these guys popping up:

Yep, you guessed it. Those are some of the larkspur seedlings that we had given up on! I was reading an article the other day that explained why they are just now starting to grow. Apparently larkspur seeds only germinate after 14-21 days of soil temperatures below 55 degrees. Our soil temperatures were nowhere near that in mid-August when we planted the seeds! We are just now getting down into the proper range, and we are seeing germination because of it. I think we are going to plant some more seeds in between the lettuce rows for bloom next spring.

Experimental Planting

If you remember back almost a month, I posted these plans for our fall garden.  As I explained then, these are experimental plans that are pushing the envelope of what may be possible here in South Central Kansas.

On Tuesday, we did our first planting of spinach, lettuce, and other greens for the planting date trial. Yesterday, I transplanted the leek and onion seedlings into the other bed. I also planted carrots, beets, radishes, chard, lettuce, spinach, and other greens. As always, how things are on paper isn’t quite how they work out in real life. In this case, I just couldn’t bring myself to pull out the cantaloupe plants, so I planted around them.

Row after row of fall veggies. I’ll probably throw a few more seeds into the spot where the melons are when they are done.

Some of the leek and onion seedling look really good, while others look a little sad. I guess the worst case scenario is that they all die, and the other worst cast scenario is that we have some nice plants that can take off and grow in the spring.