If Bed 5 (Flowers, Pollinators, Herbs) was pretty much a reprise of things we’ve grown before, then Bed 6 is almost the exact opposite. It features not only new varieties of common vegetables, but some things that we’ve never tried before.
Let’s start with the more common things. In the spring, we will be trying out three varieties of beets.
- ‘Cylindra’ is a red been that is long and cylindrical rather than round. Some people find this variety sweeter than regular beets.
- ‘Boldor’ is the newest variety of yellow/gold beets. The other more recent variety, ‘Touchstone Gold’ was an improvement over the heirloom varieties that typically had poor germination. It will be fun to see if this is another good improvement.
- ‘Avalanche’ is a white beet that is also an All America Selection. It has been a while since there has been a new white beet variety, so it will be interesting to see if it is an improvement.
In the fall, we will replace the beets with some slightly less common things.
- ‘Brilliant’ Celeriac (aka celery root) is grown for the root, not the leaves/stems like traditional celery. It commonly needs a long, cool growing season, so it will be fun to see if we can make it grow here!
- ‘Helenor’ rutabaga is another root vegetable that is common further north. Again, it may not grow well for us here. If you aren’t familiar with the vegetable, rutabagas are kind of like large, sweeter turnips.
- ‘Merida’ carrot is a variety that is supposed to work well for overwintering, so we will give that a try this fall.
Then, there is that other strange stuff shown on the map. You are probably wondering if those are vegetables that I just made up. I didn’t! They are real things!
- Oca is a root vegetable that is native to the Andes. It is somewhat like a potato, but has bright colors. Will it like Kansas? We won’t know until we try it!
- Black Scorzonera is an old, European root vegetable. Sometimes called “oyster plant” for the flavor, it is considered something of a delicacy, albeit rather difficult to grow and prepare. It needs a long growing season, too. Will it like Kansas? We’ll find out!
- Crosnes (aka Chinese Artichokes) are from mint family and develop little tubers that look a bit like miniature Michelin men. The tubers don’t develop until the daylength shortens at the end of summer or early fall, and it can be killed by frost. Will they do much in Kansas? If you guessed, we don’t know, that would be right!
I’m hoping for some interesting and photogenic vegetables from this garden, although I have to be honest that if the summer turns out to be too hot and nasty, then we could just have lots of dead plants.
It is the last Friday in September, and while the sad appearance of the tomatoes and squash certainly bear this out, it has been warm enough that it doesn’t really seem like fall yet.
We took out a couple more tomato plants this week, and in doing so made an unhappy discovery:
Roots infected with nematodes! UGH! This is actually a pretty bad infestation because the roots are very swollen and knobby. Well, the nematode-free soil was nice while it lasted. As we continue to remove tomato plants, we will keep a close eye on the roots to see how much of a problem it is. It may be confined to just a section of the bed, and we will try to manage it using rotations, non-susceptible plants, and nematode-suppressing plants.
Our Saturday Sampler this past weekend featured a wide variety of recipes made from the Cushaw squash, including this scrumptious pie. Here are the recipes in case you missed them: Winter Squash
These are from the ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ plants. (Except the one Italian Gold.) The plants look like they are winding down, although I found several hidden tomatoes this morning. Several of the fruit also look like they have some Bacterial Spot, which is a little abnormal for this time of year, but not too surprising given the colder, rainer spells we’ve had. There’s nothing to do about it now, other than use the tomatoes quickly.
If you would have asked me a couple of weeks ago if the Blue Lake Pole bean was going to grow up the trellis, let alone flower and produce beans before it got too cold, I would have called you crazy! But look at this…flowers, and tiny green beans!
Have a great weekend!