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Friday PhotoEssay – March 25, 2016

We had our first workday in the garden this week, and hence our first photo tour of the garden today. We worked hard, between the Compost crew and the Demo Garden crew. We added compost to our garden beds as fast as our Composters emptied the bins and screened the compost!


Incorporating Compost

We refilled almost all of the beds to a full level. We had one bed that still had straw from last year, so we added compost and then turned it all under, adding a little nitrogen fertilizer to help the straw break down faster.

25404444653_85ecbcc176Look at that awesome compost!


Our lettuces that we started just 4 weeks ago were ready to be planted outside, even though the forecast was for cold and wind. The cold temperatures actually help make the red lettuces a darker color. (The wind just makes everything look battered until they adapt to it!)

25733558530_41c91d926cWe planted them into the quilt block beds, using bamboo stakes to mark out the pattern. I’m looking forward to seeing how these beds look once they are filled in.

25401573774_b3d729c479We also planted the purple cabbage, purple snow peas, purple kohlrabi, more red/purple lettuces, and purple radishes in the K-State Purple garden.

25401547844_f745d1a466Last but not least, we had a group inside planting our pepper and eggplant seeds that will be planted outside in early May! They are now living under the lights in my office, waiting to germinate.

25733540350_f743b80ae9Here is the picture of the whole garden for this week. I know you can’t see much, but the weeds are gone and the beds are full of soil and compost!

Thinning Radishes and Thoughts on the Radish-Parsnip Interplanting Project

I went out and thinned out some of the radishes this afternoon, and I thought I’d share some pictures as well as a few thoughts on interplanting radishes and parsnips.

The radishes were very thick and needed to be thinned whether there were parsnips hiding underneath or not! Given the crazy spring, the radishes aren’t yet at full size, but we needed to get some more sunlight to the parsnips anyway.

This is what the first few inches looked like after I pulled out several radishes. It is pretty tedious work, especially since the radishes are so thick. I had to be extremely careful not to uproot the parsnips. I tried to leave some radishes to get larger, but I pulled the ones that were too close to the parsnip seedlings.

In case you weren’t sure what the true leaves on parsnips look like, this is it. For something in the carrot family, the leaves definitely don’t look very carroty. They are much more reminiscent of parsley, actually.

This is what the final thinned rows look like. The plants do look pretty floppy at the moment, but they should straighten up in a day or two. I tried to gently tamp the soil around the roots of all the plants, since I was disturbing them by pulling radishes.

A few of the radishes. Some were good sized and others were still very small. These are the French Breakfast radishes.

A few thoughts on the whole project:

1. It is very tedious to remove the radishes without damaging the parsnips! It is probably not worth it to do this unless you don’t have the space to plant them separately.

2. The timing doesn’t work out as well as I had hoped, BUT that could just be the crazy spring-winter-spring-summer-winter-spring we are having. Ideally the radishes would have been completely pulled out by now.

3. I think the optimal way to do this type of planting would be to plant the parsnips very thickly (maybe as much as 1.5x as many seeds as ideal) and to plant the radishes very thinly (1/2 as many seeds as normal). That way you wouldn’t have to be as careful pulling out the radishes and worrying about losing too many parsnip plants in the process.

Have any of you tried this type of thing before? Did it work out?

Friday PhotoEssay

This is going to be a quick edition, cause it’s late on Friday afternoon and I’ve got things to do!

Some of the herbs that I thought were dead dead dead are actually coming back. This oregano still needs a little cleaning (oak leaves, anyone?), but it is looking healthy!

The curly parsley is well on its way to a second growing season after surviving the winter. If we let it keep growing, it should go to seed at some point this summer.

The radishes are finally coming up! I think the cold slowed them down some. No sign of parsnips yet, but that’s not a surprise.

We have true leaves! A few of the peppers and eggplant are still dawdling about germinating, but the tomatoes are moving on to the next set of leaves.

Some gorgeous lettuce transplants that are all ready for our first Saturday Sampler tomorrow! (Yes, I’m going to transplant some of them without having hardened them off at all. Oops.)

Have a great weekend! Tomorrow you can come on out and enjoy Tree Fest from 8 am to 1 pm, the Kansas Grown! Farmers’ Market from 7 am to noon, and the first Saturday Sampler on salad greens from 9 to 10 am!

Planting Parsnips, Peas, and More

This afternoon we did the very first planting of the spring out in the Demo Garden. That planting encompassed 3 different garden areas.

First, we planted some onion transplants in the Pizza Garden.

We made two “trenches” about 2-3″ deep between the leeks and the garlic. (Okay, so we pulled out one row of leeks to make space.)

The we put the onion plants in about 3″ apart. We have one row of red onions and one row of Texas 1015Y yellow onions. We tamped the soil around the plants, and then replaced the straw mulch that had been in the garden from last fall.

Next up was the Kids’ Snack Garden. We have some nice, freshly finished compost from our bins, and we worked a couple inches of it into the soil before planting.

We are planting right along the drip lines this year to help keep everything watered with potential continuing drought. The sandy soil in the raised beds doesn’t move the water as well laterally, so we want the seeds to have the best chance to germinate and keep growing. We planted two rows of Easter Egg Mix radishes along this drip line (one on each side, about 1.5″ away from the drip line). On the other drip line we planted 2 rows of carrots, one row of ‘Mokum’ and one row of Kaleidoscope Mix. Along the middle drip line we will be transplanting some lettuce in a couple of weeks.

We planted some ‘Sugar Ann’ sugar snap peas in a container that will sit next to the Kids’ Snack Garden.

Then we moved over to Bed 3, which is the Fall Root Vegetables & Greens garden this year. (It is full of garlic right now, except for this end section.) We planted about 4 1/2 feet along each of the three drip lines. As in the other garden, we planted one row on each side of each drip line. We did extend past the end of the drip lines, if for no other reason than to see what difference it makes in germination and growth.

We planted radishes and parsnips in this section of this garden, and we did something a little different with it. We actually planted BOTH the radishes and the parsnips in each row. This is something that I’ve heard recommended before (and I think my dad has done it…? I can’t remember.) Basically, the biggest challenge with parsnips is that they are extremely slow to germinate. It can take 2-4 weeks for them to show the first leaves, and even then they are very small leaves. In contrast, the radishes will germinate, grow, and be ready to harvest in about 4 weeks. The radishes will help us keep track of the rows, make sure we water sufficiently, and keep the soil loose to aid in the parsnips germinating. (We may also get some help thinning as we harvest radishes!) That’s the theory, anyway. The parsnips will continue growing all summer, all fall, and possibly through the winter. Parsnips are supposed to be the sweetest after they have gone through the winter.

Anyway, it will be fun to see how they do!

Planting Day!

Yesterday was our big planting day in the Demo Garden. Our first planting day in the new garden! Most years we have 2 or 3 days when we do some major planting, but because of the renovation we ended up planting pretty much the entire garden at once. I will say that I am missing all of the colors and textures that the spring vegetables bring to a garden, although we really didn’t have any choice but to focus entirely on summer vegetables this year.

The gals doing the Edible Flowers Garden were so on the ball that they had almost everything planted before I could take more pictures!  Here’s the post with the plan for this garden.

We have a whole bed planned for the cattle panel trellises again this year. Unfortunately, we planned the trellis garden for the landscape paver bed, which is slightly narrower planting space because of the width of the pavers. It makes the space under the trellises narrower and slightly harder to work with. I’m sure it will be fine, but it maybe shouldn’t have been the first choice! Everything in the bed was planted from seed – cucumbers, squash, and melons. Here’s the garden plan if you want to see what we planted.

Here’s a look at the Mexican Garden. We had jicama, Mexican oregano, tomatillos, peppers, and the Red Aztec Spinach ready to transplant. The jicama and some cantaloupe get to fight over the trellis! We also planted black beans and some zucchini. Here’s the map and original post about the plans.

As is tradition, we have an entire raised bed devoted to tomatoes. We are doing the Florida Weave method in half of it and tomato cages in the other half. Although I greatly prefer the Florida Weave method, I think that due to the width of our bed, it is probably not the most efficient use of space with our current layout. Here’s the post about the plans and the varieties we’re growing this year.

Our Family of 4 Garden is smaller this year. It is about 14′ x 4′ as opposed to the 25′ x 4′ that it has been the last few years. We’ll of course take that into account with the dollar amounts we accrue over the season. We’ll also expect lower numbers since we don’t have any spring crops in. Apparently I somehow overlooked writing a post about our plans for the Family of 4 Garden. Here’s a picture of the bed plan:

This is our long plastic lumber bed with the two square second tiers. Half of the bed will be for the Prairie Star Annual Flower trials, and the other half is the Family of 4 Garden. As you can see, we have a pretty limited range of vegetables this year. Green beans, 2 zucchini, 2 cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, and 3 peppers. We should be able to get some fall things in after the beans and maybe after some of the other plants as well.

In the Beautiful Vegetables Garden, the first step was putting up some T posts to use for a bean trellis. We were going to use a wire trellis, but I think they are now planning to use a wire with twine hanging down for the beans. I’ll show more pictures when they get that project done. Meanwhile, here’s the original post with the plans.

I didn’t get an overview picture of the New & Unique Vegetable Garden, but I did take a couple pictures of the Litchi Tomato. It is just starting to develop its prickles, so you can’t really see them yet. I can foresee taking lots of pictures of this cool plant this summer. Here’s the bed plan for the New & Unique Vegetable Garden.

I think that’s it for this round of planting! We still have the 2 herb beds to plant as well as the Prairie Star Annuals (which arrived yesterday afternoon) and some of the containers.