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Friday PhotoEssay

Are you surviving the heat? I’m going to be taking off next week and heading to northern WI and southern MN, where the high temperatures are supposed to be in the 70s! Of course then I’ll be back here the following week and the 90 degree temperatures will feel hot again. I’ll probably post a few things of horticultural interest while I’m off gallivanting…we’ll see what there is to see.

I love growing radishes. They are all about instant gratification! You can’t get much more instantly gratifying for a vegetable gardener than to plant seeds on Tuesday morning and be able to take pictures of the seedlings by Friday morning. We have seedlings growing of the ‘April Cross’ Daikons, the ‘Green Meat’, ‘Red Meat’, and Mantanghong radishes. No sign of beets or carrots growing yet, but if they are going to grow, I would expect to see them coming up in the next several days.

Look what we found hanging out in our pepper plants! Isn’t it cute? I really love hornworms…well, if I find them before they can do major damage. You can really see the little hairs on his back, the suction cups on his abdomen, and his pointy little feet.

Sorry, I just had to indulge in another hornworm picture, especially since you couldn’t see his horn in the other picture.

We have a couple really nice (but still green) Brandywine tomatoes on our plant. I think we have a total of 3 fruit set on our plant…at least that’s all I’ve found so far in our tomato vine jungle.

The ‘Sunbelt’ grape is ripening and hasn’t yet been attacked by robins. From this picture, you can almost pretend that it’s in a huge vineyard, rather than the Demonstration garden!

Don’t those grapes look luscious and delicious?

Have a great weekend!

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

Another week and everything is STILL a soggy mess! It looks clear over the weekend – clear and hot, so everything can burn to a crisp! (I’m in a really cheery mood today, aren’t I?) We had our Demo Garden work day this morning, since we got rained out on Tuesday.

We have been seeing TONGS of these tiny little grasshoppers all over the garden. They are still quite small to cause major damage, but I’m not looking forward to all the big grasshoppers in a month or two.

I took a peak at the squash under the row cover this morning, and they are looking great! They are at least twice as big as the squash that aren’t under the cover. Extra warmth, and less beating from rain and wind really do wonders! Unfortunately, the weeds under the cover are twice as big too.

The very first citrus marigold flower, on the ‘Tangerine Gem’ plants. Look at all those buds coming! These will be really pretty in a couple weeks.

Two of our Master Gardeners are conferring over which annual flowers should be planted where in our front lattice garden. We are trying out a bunch of Prairie Star annuals and some Prairie Star annual trials.

Except for the Chinese (Napa) Cabbage that is getting really big and beautiful, all the other Asian greens got pulled out to make way for our summer vegetables. Here a Master Gardener is planting ‘Suyo Cross’ Japanese Cucumbers where those greens used to be.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Spring Planting Rolls On

We “broke ground” in another of the raised beds this week. The Beans & Dwarf Vines garden is getting going with the planting of 3 bean varieties.

First we cleaned out all the weed seedlings and worked in some fresh compost. Then we measured out the garden so we would get the beans in roughly the right space. Serves us right for trying to be cutesy and planting rows of beans with spaces for the vine crops in between. (You can see the original plan at the link above.)

We planted three rows of beans, each row about 6″ apart. Maybe a little close together, but…we’ll see how it works out. We planted ‘Royal Burgundy’ (purple snap bean), ‘Carson’ (yellow snap bean), and ‘Jumbo’ (Italian flat bean aka Romano bean). When I was getting the seeds out of my drawer, I realized that somehow I neglected to buy any of the Dragon Tongue beans. They weren’t even on my list! I’m not sure what happened there. Those will have to be planted later. I also decided to wait on the lima beans, because I think they would rather be planted when it is just a hair warmer.

Spacing in Raised Beds

We planted many of our spring vegetable seeds last week, and I planted a few more this week. Mostly beets (Red Ace & Chioggia), carrots (Yellow Sun), and some Asian greens (mustards).

After looking at what we planted several times last week, and then measuring the space between the rows, I decided to plant a couple more rows in between what was already planted.

The seed packets for the beets and carrots said to plant with 12-18″ between the rows, and we left 18″. Usually I’m an advocate for following directions and spacing things appropriately. After all, planting your tomatoes too close together is a recipe for disaster. But…there really is no reason that beets and carrots need that much space. Their leaves grow mostly upright, and the roots will not spread out to 9″ on either side of the row. Really, they won’t. The only thing that much space gets us is more weeds to pull out from between the rows when the plants are still tiny. Any extra moisture the additional rows will use will be countered by the fact that the closer spaced rows will shade the soil and prevent evaporation.

So…one more row of Red Ace beets (After 23 years of eschewing beets, in the last few years I’ve decided that they are one of my favorite vegetables). Also, two more rows of Yellow Sun carrots, interplanted with the rest of the Cherriette radishes. The idea of interplanting is that the radishes will mark the row for the carrots and keep the weeds down while the carrots are working on their slow germination process. Then the radishes are harvested and the carrots can take over the space! I’m going to be interested to see how this particular space saving technique works out.

I can tell you one thing though…we are going to have a bumper crop of radishes in the Family of 4 Garden this year!