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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.


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!

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!

2016 Garden Plans: Bed 1, Continued

While we are planning on growing a wide variety of peppers in most of Bed 1, we have the two square tiers that are also part of Bed 1. We chose to plant lettuce in those beds for the spring, followed by cover crops, followed by a fall planting of garlic.

However, we aren’t just planting lettuce in rows this spring. We wanted to change it up and show how you might use lettuce to be part of an edible landscape in place of other ornamentals.


24609065600_66282941f6What do those look like? If you said quilt blocks, you would be right! I found the idea in some youth gardening materials and thought it would be a fun way to arrange some of our usual spring salad gardens rather than the straight rows. We are trying a couple new (to us) varieties of oak leaf lettuce, ‘Mascara’ and ‘Encino.’ The other lettuces are leaf and romaine lettuces that we grew last year.

The two garlic varieties are a couple that I thought looked interesting, but we will see what is available when the time to order garlic arrives this summer.

2016 Garden Plans: Bed 1, Peppers

We have been hard at work planning what will go in each raised bed of the Demonstration Garden the past few weeks. Now, the plans are done, seeds are ordered, and we are getting geared up for planting. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing our detailed bed plans with you so you can plant along with us or at least garden vicariously!

24811149601_8034464002Since Capsicums are the Herb of the Year this year, we wanted to feature a wide range of peppers, including some that are typically used as spices or for seasoning. There are also some new sweet pepper varieties out there, including some new All America Selections that we wanted to try.

Half of the bed will feature “hot” peppers / seasoning peppers. The other half will have the various sweet peppers. Normally I like to have us try more than a single plant of a variety. However, hot peppers are typically such heavy producers that we were afraid we would be swamped in a sea of hot peppers. We opted to plant single plants for each of 10 hot pepper varieties. The sweet peppers will have 3 plants of each variety.

Hot Peppers

  1. ‘Feher Ozon’ Sweet Paprika pepper – This is an heirloom pepper that is dried and ground to make sweet paprika powder.
  2. ‘Leutschauer’ Hot Paprika pepper – This is an heirloom pepper that is dried and ground to make hot paprika powder.
  3. ‘Flaming Flare’ Fresno pepper – An All America Selection, sweet red pepper with mild heat.
  4. ‘Aji Amarillo’ pepper, aka Aji Limon, aka Lemon Drop Hot Pepper – This Peruvian hot pepper is yellow and has a citrusy accent to the heat.
  5. Thai Chili – Sometimes called Birds Eye Chili, these peppers are quite spicy and used in Thai cuisine.
  6. Hungarian Hot Wax – Another heirloom, these peppers start pale yellow and ripen to red. They are often pickled.
  7. ‘Espelette’ Basque Fryer Pepper – This is a type of frying pepper that is from the Basque region. Also dried and used for powder.
  8. ‘Tabasco’ pepper – Yes, used to make Tabasco sauce.
  9. ‘Sweet Heat’ Pepper – Another red, sweet pepper with some mild heat. I’ve grown this one at home, and it is great on pizza.
  10. Aleppo Pepper – A Middle Eastern pepper that is typically dried and crushed.

Sweet Peppers

  1. ‘Red Knight’ is a bell pepper that turns red at maturity.
  2. ‘Escamillo’ is an All America Selection that is a golden-colored, bullhorn type pepper.
  3. ‘Tawny Port’ is a bell pepper that is a brown/maroon color.
  4. ‘Tangerine Dream’ is a orange, sweet snack pepper.
  5. ‘Great Stuff’ is a green bell pepper that can reach sizes of 5″ across and 7″ long!
  6. ‘Goddess’ is a sweet banana pepper.

I think we may be swimming in peppers this year, if all goes well. I’m excited to try some of these new (and old) varieties!