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Friday PhotoEssay – June 26, 2015

Long time, no photoessay! I could be wrong, but I think that the Friday PhotoEssays (and hopefully other posts too) are back for the remainder of the summer! Let’s get all caught up on what’s been happening.

As you can see, most of the garden seems to be growing well. We had a little bit of a hiccup last week and over the weekend with the irrigation system being down due to a problem elsewhere on the grounds. Bad timing! Everything looks a little bit scorched from that experience. It’s hard to catch up with watering when things get too dry.

The squash in the vertical garden are looking good overall. I saw some wilting in the heat of the afternoon yesterday, but I think it is just the hot and dry. I checked several of the plants for signs of squash vine borer and didn’t see anything. I also checked the soil, which seemed dry. I turned the water on! It’s nice when the solution to wilting is easy and not a pest. I read an article just this morning that said that squash vine borers prefer Cucurbita sp. with large hollow stems over smaller, solid stems. That probably accounts for at least some of the purported resistance of these varieties.

Only a couple of the varieties are starting to flower and set fruit yet, so when they progress further I will do a closer look at this garden bed. I’m a little surprised that the plants aren’t larger, but it is probably mostly weather. They might want a little more nitrogen too, given all the rain.

This is the parthenocarpic squash (don’t need pollination to set fruit) under the row cover set up. This picture is from about 2 weeks ago. It’s been a little tricky keeping everything sealed around the edges with the wind. But…it’s better than nothing! I should go take another picture of this today to show you, but it’s hot outside! The plants are now so big that they are pushing out on the row cover fabric, and there are flowers and fruit setting under the row cover. I’ll hopefully take a closer look next week.

Most of the tomato plants do have fruit set on them, and there are some really interesting differences in the sizes of the plants. I’ll plan to do a more in depth look next week or the week after. This is the ‘Indigo Apple’ tomato plant, which is a variety with purple coloration. The shoulders are already starting to show the coloring on these tomatoes.

We often have one of the red/purple basils somewhere in the garden, but most years they either get washed out or turn green. Apparently the key is to plant it in a shadier location! This ‘Red Rubin’ basil is under the lattice area where it gets more shade and the color is great! Of course, it isn’t very big either, but it seems like a fair trade for the color.

It’s in a tomato cage, but it’s not a tomato! This is a dwarf, container-type raspberry. It doesn’t look like it is producing anything this year because it died back to the roots over the winter. It is staying nice and compact though. I don’t know that it will every need the cage!

The beans are all looking good and seem to be producing well, after they had a bit of a rough start. This is the ‘Dragon Tongue’ bean that has purple stripes/splotches.

We’ll finish up for this week with this cool looking coleus. It’s name is ‘Rodeo Drive’ and I suppose it does look a little bit like a crazy bull, but I just think it looks cool.

Have a great weekend!

New Vegetables & Fruit for 2013

This is the first of what will probably be 3 or 4 posts about new varieties I’m seeing in seed catalogs as we are getting ready to plan the garden for the year.

The caveat, of course, is that I have no idea if they will do well for us or not! I’m also highly skeptical when a new variety is promoted as being “heat tolerant!” I always suspect that they mean heat tolerant where that variety was developed – typically New York, Washington, Oregon, etc. “Heat tolerant” means something very different there!

There are some new raspberries and strawberries available, mostly from the Cornell University breeding program, that intrigue me. Raspberries are often a challenge to grow here, but they are still one of my favorite fruits.

‘Double Gold’ Raspberry – This is a fall-bearing (primocane fruiting) raspberry that produce pink-blushed gold fruit. It is so pretty that I’m sure I will have to try it at some point, even though it will probably be as susceptible to sunscald as most other gold raspberries.

‘Crimson Night’ Raspberry – Another fall-bearing raspberry, this one has dark purple-red fruit. It also sports compact, dark purple canes. I’ve seen some companies promoting this variety as ideal for container gardens and small garden plots or for use in the edible landscape.

‘Purple Wonder’ Strawberry – This is a June-bearing strawberries that is a dark red to purple color. A fun choice for all you K-State fans!

Vegetable Varieties

‘On Deck Hybrid’ Sweet Corn – This varieties is being marketed as perfect for a container on your deck or patio. Color me skeptical on this one! It says plant 9 seeds per 24” container and enjoy sweet corn in 2 months. The biggest challenge about growing sweet corn in a small garden area is poor pollination, so I’m not sure how they are going to overcome that limitation. Anyone want to try it?

‘Vivid Choi’ Pac Choi – A Pac Choi (aka Bok Choy) variety with a range of colored stems a la Swiss Chard. My camera is excited about this one!

‘Green Tiger’ and ‘Pink Tiger’ Saladette Tomatoes – These are 1” wide by 2-4” long tomatoes that are striped. The pink is rose pink with orange striping and the green is yellow-green with dark green stripes.

That’s all for now…I’m sure I’ll have some more to share in the coming weeks!


New Raspberry Varieties from Cornell University

Cornell University in New York has announced the release of 2 new raspberry varieties. They look pretty neat! Of course, releasing them right now means that they won’t be available on the market until next spring. But hey – that’s something to look forward to next year! (For the full story, go here.)

The two varieties are Double Gold and Crimson Night. Both varieties are fall-bearing (primocane fruiting) types. Double Gold is a new gold variety with an attractive pink blush. Of particular interest to those of us growing in a clay soil, Double Gold has shown resistance to Phytophthora Root Rot. If you’ve been around the Demo Garden Blog for awhile, you might remember that our raspberries got Phytophthora Root Rot in 2010.

Crimson Night is fairly compact with dark purple canes, making it an interesting possibility for more ornamental plantings or container plantings.

Of course, the challenge with any new fruit variety is that we just don’t know how they will do for us in Kansas. New York is a great place to breed and grow raspberries, but fruit that does great in their breeding program may or may not tolerate a hot Kansas summer. In particular, gold raspberries tend to struggle in the heat. It would be interesting to see if the pink blush in the Double Gold makes the fruit a little more tolerant to sunscald.

So…you have 9 months to plan and prepare for a new raspberry bed if you want to give either of these a try next year!

Friday PhotoEssay: A Look Back at 2009

Last week I finally finished uploading all of the 2009 Demo Garden photos to Flickr. I have to say…the vibe from those pictures is much different than you get from looking at a lot of the 2011 pictures! I thought I would share some of my favorite pictures from that year, since I got to enjoy them again as I was uploading them. To see all the 2009 pictures, click here.

We overwintered this radicchio from 2008, and this is what it looked like just after Valentine’s Day in 2009! Still one of my all-time favorite Demo Garden pictures.

I think all of the radishes we planted in 2009 were Easter Egg Mix Radishes. At least, all the pictures I took were of them.

2009 was the year of the cherry tomato! We had them coming out our ears. This bowl was one of the first harvests in early July.

This was the year we had a full bed of zinnias. The flowers were extremely photogenic, even if the rest of the plants weren’t particularly beautiful.

We got lots of rain in 2009, and the garden was lush and full of insects. This big grasshopper was one of my favorites, but there are lots of pictures of spiders, grasshoppers, butterflies, and other bugs in the archive.

Fall 2009 was the season of beautiful Bok Choy. And rain, as you can see. I think that was the season that our Bok Choy looked its absolute best. The weather was perfect with no insects and no bolting.

Since 2009 was the year before our raspberries succumbed to Phytophthora Root/Crow Rot, the berries were large, luscious, and still ripening in November!

Doesn’t looking back at some pictures of a really good gardening year make you a little more excited for this year?

Have a great weekend!