It is once again the time of year where we plan what will be featured in our Demonstration Garden for the season. As always, we have a great mix of tried-and-true vegetables and some new and interesting things. When it is cold and snowy, it is a lot of fun to think about what will be growing in the garden in just a few short weeks. We will be starting the first of our seeds next week and it is all downhill from there!
Below you will find maps for each of our raised garden beds. The maps show the overall theme or focus for each bed as well as the specific varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers we will have growing.
Our tomatoes are in Bed 1 this year. Because of how this raised bed is structured, we will have roma tomatoes in one end, early maturing varieties on the other end, and some more common “comparison” varieties in the middle. The roma tomato varieties are a mixture of hybrids and heirlooms, with different colors, sizes, and shapes. We chose the “early maturing” theme because everyone always likes to have the first tomatoes! The six varieties we chose also are a mix of hybrid and heirlooms, with maturity dates ranging from 54 to 65 days from transplanting.
Bed 2 will feature a mix of cool season vegetables that are planted both in spring and fall. The spring plantings feature leafy greens, peas, carrots, radishes, and kohlrabi. The fall plantings feature two new cauliflower varieties, beets, daikon radishes, lettuce, spinach, and carrots. Our plan is to put row covers over at least part of the fall plantings to extend the growing season and overwinter them.
The theme for Bed 3 is the “Kansas Backyard Garden.” The idea is to feature common vegetables grown in Kansas. Most of the varieties are not too far out there either. A couple things that I’m excited about though are the bush-type vine crops. We are trying both a new bush watermelon variety, ‘Cal Sweet Bush’ that has only 18″ long vines, and ‘Cherokee Bush’ pumpkin that has about a 4′ spread.
On the other hand, Bed 5 is a long way from Kansas! We are featuring vegetables that are indigenous to Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa. Researching this garden was an education, because we discovered that some of our common ornamentals were originally edible vegetables in Africa! Vegetables that you may be familiar with are eggplant, okra, kale, and peanuts. You may be less familiar with cowpeas, long beans (a type of cowpea), amaranth, cleome, celosia, and bambara beans.
You probably do know amaranth – but as pigweed. There are colored leaf varieties and varieties that have been cultivated for edible greens. Other varieties are grown for flowers and seeds. Cleome is a ornamental flower we know, but most of us haven’t eaten the foliage as a vegetable! Celosia is another common flower that you may have grown for color. But the leaves and young flowers can also be eaten as a vegetable.
Cowpeas, long beans, and bambara beans are all from the genus Vigna. Cowpeas you may recognize. The long beans are vining beans that produce 18″ long edible pods. Bambara beans are kind of like cowpeas…the peas look a lot like the cowpeas. But they are kind of like peanuts…the pods grow underground.
One of the best things about this garden theme is that these are all vegetables that thrive in hot climates, so we are excited to see how they do in Kansas!
For a second year, we have a bed that we are calling our “SNAP-Ed” bed. This bed is a demonstration of how to garden on a very small budget, using only seeds and plants that can be purchased from a store where it is possible to use the SNAP EBT (food stamp) benefits.
Also a reprise from last year is Bed 6. Agastache is the Herb of the Year featured at our Herb Day event on May 4th, so we kept this bed in the same location with several overwintering agastache varieties. The flowers and herbs are chosen for the attractiveness to butterflies and other pollinators.
Beds 8, 9, and 10 are all 4′ x 4′ beds. Bed 8 will feature ornamental gourds on a trellis. Bed 9 will feature sunflowers. Bed 10 will feature a popcorn variety called ‘Glass Gem.’
In the accessible garden area, we are featuring a “Salsa Garden” theme. In the tiered raised bed will be a roma tomato, herbs, and peppers. In the barrel planters will be a trailing tomato variety, more herbs, and some green onions.
Our containers around the garden will feature flowers this year, especially some new varieties of Pentas. We are excited for spring! What are you planning to plant this year?
I think our garden is about ready for fall, as you can easily see below:
One of the reasons the pumpkins are looking so sad is because there are dozens (or more) squash bug nymphs all over them. I’m actually rather impressed that they didn’t show up before now, when the pumpkins are almost done producing. Since the plants are nearly dead and we picked all but 2 pumpkins this week, I think we will just be removing the plants rather than trying to treat for the squash bugs.
This is one of the fruit from the ‘Tondo Liscia Manduria’ cucumber vine in the Italian Garden. We let it go all the way to “melon” stage, and you can see that the stem had slipped (separated from the fruit) and it was starting to crack.
From the inside, you can see it looks quite a bit like a honeydew melon. It tasted pretty good – not dissimilar to a honeydew melon. Maybe not quite as sweet. The texture was very much like a melon. So it’s a dual purpose plant – cucumbers and melons!
We have ornamental peppers in many of our containers this year, and they are just starting to look really spectacular. This is a variety called ‘Sangria.’ I love the mixture of red and purple peppers.
This pot has three different varieties, and the color combination is really interesting. I love the purple plant in front, then the green plant with orange fruit, then the “black” plant at the back. The sizes of the plants worked well too!
Have a great weekend!
Whew! It’s hot and steamy out there! I’m regretting not going out to take pictures first thing this morning.
As a result, you get the shadowy version of the whole garden today. Shadowy and slightly wilty, especially if you are talking about the pumpkins. It’s a good thing they’re almost ripe, because the plants are almost done for.
Also in the not so spectacular category are the zinnias. They usually look great, until all of a sudden they have powdery mildew. Then they look awful until we decide to take them out. And that is really the best option. I think we’re getting near that point here.
Apparently the peanuts are thoroughly enjoying the weather, because they are growing like crazy. I know they don’t look like much from the top, but I’m hopeful that they will be pretty spectacular when we harvest later this fall!
Have I give you the spiel on how peanuts grow already? I can’t remember. Anyway, what you are looking at in the very center of the picture are the ovary tubes growing down into the soil that will grow the peanuts. Those reddish-brown sticks coming off the stem are what I’m talking about. The plants are still blooming too, which means even more peanuts!
Ironically, the trellis over the walkway has been rather pathetic this year, with both varieties not doing a lot of climbing. But who needs a trellis arch when the okra and the tomatoes can grow together over the path all by themselves? It’s starting to feel a bit like a jungle out here.
Denise made some yummy Indian dishes for our Saturday Sampler last Saturday. This is the Quinoa Chickpea Curry. The recipes should be up on the website soon, but in the meantime you can revisit other recipes here: Saturday Sampler Recipes.
Have a great weekend!
Tomato Day is tomorrow! I hope you are planning to attend and enjoy the hot summer weather along with a whole bunch of your closest gardening buddies. In case you missed seeing the flyer, go here.
Here’s a look at the garden this week. You can see the pumpkin on the right side is starting to look a little wilty…I guess the squash vine borers are going to do it in after all. Bah. I hope we will get a couple of ripe pumpkins first!
In case you’ve never seen it, this is what cilantro looks like when you let it go to seed. The seeds, which look to be almost dry, are what we call coriander. You can grind the seeds into the spice OR you could let the seeds drop in place and have a fall planting of cilantro come up. That’s what we’re planning to do.
I just noticed that our new grape vine has one small cluster of grapes on it. Even though we really shouldn’t let it go, at this point I’m inclined to let it be, since the plant has been doing so well and the cluster is pretty small.
The quinoa is starting to show a little color in the seed heads, but it is also starting to show some Swiss Cheesey-ness in the leaves. On close inspection, there appear to be some little larval guys munching on the leaves. They don’t look quite like caterpillars, but maybe either beetle larvae or sawfly larvae? I’m not sure. Perhaps after Tomato Day I’ll take a closer look. In the meantime, it really isn’t a big deal since the seed heads are already forming.
I was hoping to update more on the Curry Leaf this summer, but it really hasn’t done much. It has grown, but it isn’t a huge plant yet, probably because it’s been so cool. The most interesting thing about it is that the cowpeas keep trying to swarm it under with all their tendrils. I think we should have put the cowpeas on a trellis!
Have a great weekend!
I think the Demo Garden path is paved with my good intentions of posting more frequently. Time just seems to slip away from me earlier in the week!
Luckily, the garden does not rely on me to blog regularly in order to grow. We really would be in trouble if that were the case! You can see on the right side of the picture that the pumpkins are doing their best to be the first to the top of the trellis. Some of our other cucumbers and vines are just being pokey.
The pumpkins are also doing their best to be the first vine crop with fruit set. They might win! I didn’t see any bees this morning, so I tried to help the cause by transferring pollen from one of the lower male flowers to this female flower that was open. I guess we’ll see if I was successful.
We have new babies! Again! We planted some chicory and onion seeds inside this week, and a few of the chicory are already up. I’m a little surprised, because sometimes chicory can be a little slow. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start them now rather than in two weeks. They also have a relatively low germination percentage (about 65%), so this way we will be sure to have enough plants in about 6 weeks.
Also blooming, but not nearly so attractive is this Endive. Not all of the endive mesclun plants are bolting, but I’m sure they aren’t far behind. That means we will be pulling them out soon and getting ready to plant the bulbing fennel for fall.
Have a great weekend!