Blog Archives

2017 Garden Plans: Accessible Gardens

Last year, we planted a lot of tomatoes, cucumbers, and other warm season veggies in the accessible beds. This year, we swung the other way and have planted (and already planted) a wide variety of cool season vegetables.

accessibleIn the tiered garden, we removed the raspberry that really hadn’t done much. I think it needed more sun that in that location. We opted for swiss chard and a kale mix for spring planting in the two lower tiers, intending for those crops to grow through most of the summer. Then the kale will be replaced with a red veined spinach in the fall. We will replant the chard if needed.

The center tier will have two tomatoes and two basils. The ‘Little Napoli’ was a variety that did well last year and we wanted to try it again. ‘Patio Princess’ is a new compact dwarf that is supposed to have up to 4 oz. fruit.

accessible-2

The two barrel planters and the salad table are also featuring cool season vegetables this year. The larger barrel planter is planted to spinach and a green, Italian sprouting broccoli for the spring. It will have purple kohlrabi and orange carrots for the fall.

The smaller barrel planter is planted to a variety of pea called ‘peas-in-a-pot’ that is supposed to work well in containers. In the fall, we are trying “Kalettes,” which are a cross between brussels sprouts and kale.  They have shoots/sprouts along the stem like brussels sprouts, but they are open florets rather than mini-cabbages.

In the salad table, we have radishes, green onions, and mixed lettuce for the spring. The cutting celery and parsley will grow through the summer (we hope!), and then the other veggies will be replanted for the fall.

Just because you are growing in smaller planters doesn’t mean you need to skip trying out the weird stuff!

Friday PhotoEssay – April 29, 2016

It’s a rainy day in the demo garden. Or rather it was a rainy day, and is now a drenching, downpour day. Let’s just say that things are sufficiently watered for the foreseeable future. Of course, one of the benefits of raised beds is the improved drainage, so we will probably be watering again long before many of you!

26440885980_845464d057_zOur spring lettuces, leafy greens, cabbages, and more are growing quickly with the relatively warm, moist conditions.

26611529926_96a9c7e987_zThe quilt block lettuce had grown significantly, so we did a heavy harvest of it this week.

26364992670_f2fdcc663a_zAnother view of the lettuce with the evening light hitting the leaves.

26387428700_874863956c_zWe got a LOT of lettuce off of a 4′ x 8′ area. About 12 bags worth, I think?

26634056126_488ce18b93_z A bouquet of lettuce leaves. Many of the lettuce leaves were quite large. It was also interesting to see the different textures. The red and green oakleaf lettuces (‘Mascara’ and ‘Encino’) were much more delicate leaves. The red romaine (‘Thurinus’ – center above), was sturdy but without the thick midrib you might expect of a more mature romaine. The ‘New RedFire’ and ‘Muir’ which are leaf and summercrisp types respectively, were also sturdier leaves.

It’s not something that necessarily matters a lot, but it does affect storage life and eating quality. Some people may prefer eating the more tender leaves than the thicker leaves. However, from a storage standpoint, the sturdier leaves are going to last longer in the refrigerator due to the fact that they leaves are not as easily bruised.

26620365202_f9fcdea66f_zAnd after a lettuce-centric post, I’ll leave you with our perennial garden sage, which is happily blooming right now, even with all the rain.

Have a great weekend and stay dry!

A Pallet Garden…It’s Pinteresting

26378684701_c01d252c28_zIf you’ve been on Facebook or Pinterest at all in the past couple years, you’ve probably seen someone growing something in a pallet. The plants look lush and gorgeous, you can set it up vertically so it doesn’t take up much space, and it looks soooo easy!

So we decided to try it out. I found some instructions that recommended stapling landscape fabric on the back and three sides, then filling with potting soil, planting, and waiting two weeks for plants to grow before setting it upright.

(I’ll give you the sneak preview…everyone thought this project was much more difficult than advertised!)

25828561793_c2663cced0The starting point….an ugly old pallet. This is actually after we had started nailing down some of the loose slats. The other interesting thing – the bottom has extra holes in it where a forklift would pick it up. Hmm…which side to cover?

26405430226_18ab21d06fWe decided to cover the side with the larger holes, because we weren’t sure how the soil would stay in otherwise. We also ended up doing two layers of landscape fabric to make sure it was sturdy enough.

25826511114_3495a01847One of the Master Gardeners had brought along a few old lathe slats and we decided to nail them along the back just to help stabilize everything. Did we have to do this step? No. Does everyone feel a lot better about the durability of the project now? Yes, absolutely!

25826509714_ce58df29d8It took about 4-5 cu. feet of potting soil to fill the pallet. 26158512800_7beeae8ab7.jpg

26158512800_7beeae8ab7We planted some of our leftover lettuce seedlings in the pallet. We also have some strawberries that we will put in later. (If I don’t manage to kill them in my office first…watering…it’s helpful!)

26405785346_011ae93698The final result…it would have been more picturesque had we had some green lettuce too, but I guess we’ll survive with the two shades of red!

We will stand it up on end in another couple weeks and see how things go! My biggest concern with all projects like this is how are we going to keep it sufficiently watered, especially once it is vertical. I foresee lots of water running everywhere.

2016 Garden Plans: Bed 4 – Oriental Garden

In 2010, we did an Asian garden and in 2013 we did an Indian (Asia) garden. This year we wanted to reprise the theme while focusing on specifically southeast Asian / Chinese / Japanese vegetables.

24878251276_fde2893c4dAs you can see, we have yet another garden with lots of different varieties and lots of complexity going on. Many oriental vegetables are cool season, which means they are either planted in the spring or fall (or both), which allows us to try many more varieties in one growing season.

1-5. We have a selection of herbs common in Asian cooking. FYI – Flowering Chinese Leek is just another name for Garlic Chives!

6. ‘Ladyfinger’ Okra is supposed to be smooth and tender even at larger sizes.

7. ‘Round Purple’ Eggplant is just that – a round, purple variety.

8. ‘Choryoku’ Eggplant is a long, narrow green variety.

9. ‘Fushimi’ pepper is a thin-skinned sweet Japanese pepper.

10. Winged bean is a variety that produces pea-like pods but with winged edges. It’s hard to describe, so you’ll just have to wait and see it!

11. ‘Tokita Scarlet’ Carrot is a red carrot variety.

12. ‘Hybrid Fuji’ kohrabi is a large, green variety.

13. ‘Hakurei’ Turnip is a white, salad-type turnip that is good for eating raw.

14. ‘Summer Top’ Cucumber is a burpless, oriental variety that produced 9-10″ long cucumbers and has good disease resistance.

15. ‘Purple Red Mart’ Long Bean is a long bean that will grow on a trellis and produce 15-18″ beans that are purple in color. We were especially interested in this variety because they are supposed to turn black when cooked. Yum!

16-18. Mizuna and Mustards – the mizuna is purple-veined to purple leaved (not pure seed lot) and the mustards are very finely frilled varieties that are a bit spicy and good for salads.

19. ‘Dok Hybrid’ Luffa is a luffa gourd that can also be eaten like a zucchini at the immature stage.

20. ‘Hybrid Golden Honey’ Melon is a yellow-skinned melon with floral white flesh.

21. ‘Green Lance’ Chinese Broccoli is not a head forming type of broccoli, but rather one that has lots of smaller shoots.

While it may seem like there are some strange things in this garden, many of them are similar to other plants we have grown in the past, so I’m pretty confident in their productivity. I will be honest that I’m already plotting what recipes I can try with all these vegetables though!

 

Friday PhotoEssay – October 2, 2015

It’s October and all of a sudden the weather also feels like October! Not a lot to report on from the Demo Garden this week, although I did harvest a squash today and the Master Gardeners harvested quite a few beans, greens, and tomatoes earlier in the week.

There has not been much change in the overall look of the garden this week from last week.

That said, as ugly as most of our tomato plants are, they are still quite productive. The ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ was an All America Selection this year and is definitely living up to its reputation with all the late season tomatoes. This variety was rated highly in my earlier review post and it is only increasing in my estimation.

Our fall lettuces continue to shine. The front left lettuce is ‘New Red Fire’ (leaf lettuce). The far back left variety is ‘Muir’ (leaf lettuce). The back right variety is ‘Thurinus’ (red romaine). The front right lettuce is ‘Flashy Butter Oak’ (oak leaf lettuce).

Our Herb & Pollinator Garden hasn’t been as spectacular this year as it was last year, until all of a sudden the Mexican Bush Sage, Pineapple Sage, and Zinnias have burst into bloom. I guarantee you that no picture I take is as beautiful as it is in person, so come check it out!

I broke down and harvested this squash/pumpkin, the ‘Thai Kang Kob’ this morning. The rind wasn’t as hard as I would have liked, but there was a crack around the stem that was starting to rot and let bugs in. Watch for more on this lovely specimen next week!

Have a great weekend!