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FINALLY, Spring.

There’s no question about it, spring was reluctant to come and stay this year. While we have tried to stay on schedule with our planting, we ended up delaying a few things until it got a bit warmer. Thankfully, the warm weather coincided with tomato planting time, so we are pretty much back on track!

41567684981_0383065076 This is the garden in mid-April. You can see from the wooden stakes that things had been planted…but not much green was showing up!

41843273812_28b7977459Jumping ahead three weeks to today…there’s a lot more green to be seen, and you can also see that we have been adding trellises and tomato cages!

41169157274_a7ee443ed4Of our early spring planting, these plants are probably the most spectacular right now. These Chinese cabbages were transplanted the third week of March and have survived multiple nights below freezing with NO protection, snow, cold rain, and wind. The light green is ‘Tokyo Bekana,’ a loose leaf cabbage. The red and dark green are both heading types of Chinese cabbages that are just barely starting to form their heads.

41843272742_28e2656566Also beginning to look good is our SNAP-Ed garden. The radishes, spinach, and lettuce are all finally growing well, and we inter-planted the peppers, tomatoes, and herbs this week. Look for more about this garden to come next week!

41169154634_c1eea26f5fOf the lettuces we have in the garden this spring, this one is by far the most interesting. This is a variety called ‘Italienischer.’ It is very upright and dark green. At maturity it is supposed to be 18″ tall and heat tolerant. It also has the unique oakleaf leaf shape. It almost looks like an overzealous dandelion!

40078997300_5c3f9f8f87While not as beautiful, I also had to share this heirloom lettuce variety – mostly because of the name! The lightly red-tinged leaf lettuce has the name ‘Drunken Woman Frizzy Headed.” I don’t know who came up with that, but…it’s quite the name.

In addition to tomatoes, we planted most of our herbs (except the basil) and all of the various beans this week. Next week we hope to get the peppers planted as well as the cucumbers, squash, and melons.

Hope to see you at Herb Day tomorrow!

Garden Cleanup & Spring Planting

We have kicked off our planting season in the Demonstration Garden with work days the last two weeks. We went from a garden that was full of volunteer wheat and cheat to a garden that had the beginnings of our plans implemented for the season.

32929204433_3da4bdaab1As you can see, the weeds/grass and leftover plants from last year were having a field day. This picture actually looks better than it would have a day previously, as the Compost Committee graciously pulled the weeds and spread compost in Bed 4!

33742353865_00d3d30728Here’s the “After” shot from yesterday. We removed the old hops vines, most of the other dead plants and all the weeds. We added a whole bunch of compost to the beds that needed it, and got started with planting.

33742337345_7d221b99e1The Colonial Garden is probably the farthest ahead in the planting game, as the vast majority of the plants in this garden are spring/fall (cool season) veggies. We transplanted three types of lettuce that Thomas Jefferson had records of planting, as well as two heirloom cabbage varieties and an heirloom, vining pea. We also planted both parsnip and salsify seeds.

33613084431_28699f536cThe Accessible planters are largely planted already with spring crops. These planters will have a mixture of kale, chard, sprouting broccoli, spinach, lettuces, radishes, and peas for the spring. We will have a couple tomatoes later on, but again, lots of spring/fall crops.

33742361035_ea89ed1edfOne of the most interesting things in the early spring planting is this kale mix. It is called Kale Storm Mix, and we planted it in several of the containers. This is a multi-seed pellet, sometimes called a “fuseable.” They’ve been around the flower industry for a few years, but this is the first time I’ve seen them for veggies. The seed company took 3 kale varieties and mixed the seeds in a uniform ratio and put them into these larger “seed pellets.” The result is supposed to be an evenly mixed, visually attractive blend of kale. We’ll see how it turns out!

33357398180_178b3ba755The ‘Cascade’ Hops is also an interesting experience. Last year I was afraid it wasn’t going to do much for the longest time. Then it did finally take off and grow. This year it is already half way up the cage before April 1st! Yikes! Another fun factoid: hops shoots are edible like asparagus. We tried nibbling on them, and they do taste like asparagus at first. But then there is a really nasty bitter aftertaste. Ugh! There’s a reason hops are not grown for spring edible shoots!

This has been a busy week, because we also got all our tomato and pepper seeds started inside. I don’t have any pictures of the plants yet, but I’m sure you can go back into the blog archives if you want to get the idea!

And just in case you were curious, I’m not planning on planting my tomatoes any earlier than usual – at this point. It’s cold today, and there’s a lot of weather to come before it is tomato planting time!

Friday PhotoEssay – June 10, 2016

With a week of warm temperatures and no rain, everything is growing quickly. The end of the spring crops is almost here and the summer veggies are starting to set fruit!

It’s hard to see from this overview photo, but I know that in a few weeks the tomatoes are going to be most of the way up the trellises and the garden will look completely different yet again. We did remove one of the quilt block lettuce gardens, since the lettuce was bolting. The other is holding on for a little longer.

The ‘Rainbow Treasure’ strawberry on top of the pallet is blooming a bit and fruiting. The plant is still very small, but the colors are great.

Let’s just say that watering the pallet garden is every bit as challenging as I expected it would be. We have the PVC tubes, but they don’t get the edges watered. We ended up putting the watering wand on the upper corner at a slow trickle to soak in. Still not ideal.

I keep trying and trying to capture a picture of the ‘Black Beauty’ tomato plant, because the stems have a purple cast to them that is striking and in contrast to the other plants. But with the sunlight, I can’t get it to show up the same way in a picture. You’ll have to come see it! As you can see, this plant (and most of the other tomatoes) are starting to bloom and set fruit.

Our ‘Himrod’ grapevine is starting to fill out the fruit. It has quite few bunches this year, despite the vines not being overly large last year. Hopefully we don’t have any major insect or disease issues before harvest.

This is the ‘Patio Plum’ toamto plant. It is maybe 8 inches tall, but showing tiny flowers. I keep wanting to think there is something wrong with it, but it seems perfectly healthy. Just super tiny!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – May 6, 2016

It was planting week in the Demo Garden! If you go back and look at the last whole garden picture, you can see just how much the garden has changed in just a couple of weeks. We planted the tomatoes on Tuesday and the peppers, eggplant, and annual flowers today. Whole GardenMay 6, 2016 (2)

The only things still to plant are the cucumbers, melons, and a few other very warm season things like our oddball root vegetables and tropicals. (More to come on some of those things next week.)

Both the winged beans and the blue butterfly pea (vining flower, not edible pea) required soaking before planting. The winged bean actually recommended soaking and pre-sprouting before planting. You can see these seeds have swollen, broken the seed coat, and are just starting to put out the first tiny shoot.

This is the ‘Black Beauty’ tomato plant. I don’t know if it is the weather or just a characteristic of that plant, but the older leaves have a purple cast to them. Normally I would call it a phosphorus deficiency, but it doesn’t look quite right, so I am wondering if the plant has extra purple pigment due to the anthocyanins in the fruit?

Since we’re on the topic of odd tomato plants, take a look at this cute little guy. It almost looks like a new potato coming up, but it is definitely a tomato. It is still short, but it is the same age as the large plants we transplanted. This is the ‘Patio Plum’ tomato, which is supposed to be very columnar but also compact. So far it is clearly very compact!

For the last two years, the pollinator garden has been beautiful by the end of the season, and I always regretted not taking pictures of it every week to catalog the changes. I’m going to try to take regular pictures of it too this year.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – April 15, 2016

It’s that time again, and since I haven’t updated much in the last couple weeks, I have a lot to show you.

25826856504_80b02f0d86

The lettuces are really looking great, while everything else except the perennial herbs are still just barely getting going.

26405775326_a0c51593dfHere’s a closeup look at one of the quilt block lettuce gardens. We’ve had a few casualties, especially of the green variety, so the pattern isn’t perfect, but I think you can see the general idea.

25826861154_73fcabf7fdThe varieties in the other quilt block garden haven’t grown quite as fast, so it isn’t as full-looking, but you can still see the pattern.

26431720005_515dc761baAs one sign of how cold it didn’t get this past winter, our flowering sage is still alive. It is also starting to bloom again, which is very odd for this time of year. My guess is that since it didn’t die, it responded to the short daylength of spring by initiating more flowers.

26158548370_de29581f53_zWe are also trying out a new salad table this year in the Accessible Garden area. This table top garden is only 5″ deep and is intended for only shallow-rooted vegetables, primarily in spring and fall.

26158871470_68d076194b_zThe snow peas, kohlrabi, cabbage, and lettuce in the K-State Purple garden are off to a thriving start. We’ll be filling in with warm season vegetables in the next month.

That’s it for this week! Have a great weekend!