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More Planting and Bean Troubles

This week brought more planting – namely the peppers and tomatoes!

20150507_084559The tomatoes are already caged, but not yet mulched.

20150507_084608Only 4 peppers this year.

20150507_084448Hey! What is that? Looks like a elm seedling. Oh, you thought I was referring to the strawberry?

20150507_084506So there are a couple strawberries starting to ripen from last year’s planting. This one has been sampled by the roly polys. Ugh! There isn’t anything to do about them other than try to keep things dry. Hard to do this week! The one nice berry I found tasted like a ‘Mara des Bois’ – sweet and floral.

20150507_084639The majority of the beans that were planted didn’t grow well from the first planting, nor the second. They are missing leaves or have damaged leaves. There is a bit of difference between varieties though. It could be a few different things. We had this issue last year, and I thought it might be herbicide. A little more research this year indicates it could also be a bean/seed corn maggot or a disease. Basically, something is damaging the hypocotyl of the seed as it is germinating and results in plants with no leaves. Obviously they aren’t going to grow much from that!

The easiest fix for either of these problems is to till up the area and then replant when the soil is warmer. That worked last year, so hopefully it will work this year too.

20150507_084629This variety – ‘Contender,’ I believe, seems to be mostly okay. I suspect it may be more tolerant of cold soils. ‘Contender’ is an old variety, and sometimes the old ones are the best ones!

20150507_084411We’ll wrap up for the week with a picture of the whole garden! Things are only going to accelerate from here!

A Little…or Big…Update

If you are a regular reader, you have probably noticed that updates on what we’re actually doing in the garden are pretty sparse this spring. In fact, non-existent up to this point. I know I’ve set you up with some videos and such to keep you occupied, but what are we actually doing?

Well…quite a lot. But not blogging about it, obviously. But I have a good excuse!


Sorry about the sideways picture. Things at home don’t play quite as nice as at the office.This little guy is a month old, and keeping me busy!

So despite me being MIA, things are still carrying on in the Demo Garden, thanks to our great volunteers! Let’s take a quick look at what’s been growing.

20150425_090107The spinach that was overwintered has gone all pointy and started bolting. It has been removed.

20150425_090154Some of the strawberries overwintered well, others not so well. We decided to plant some more of the ‘Mara des Bois’ variety that didn’t get a good start last spring due to some herbicide issues. They are looking good this year! Typically, we would remove flowers on strawberries for the first year. Because these are day neutrals, it isn’t necessary. I still tend to pick the first flush of flowers off, but you still aren’t supposed to need to do that.

20150425_090144The potatoes that were planted in March are growing well!

20150425_085934The lettuce that we started inside and transplanted is looking scrumptious! In fact, I believe they did a first harvest this week. The lettuce that I planted directly outside at home is about half this size, but harvestable due to thinning. The variety on the left is the ‘Flashy Butter Oak’ and on the right is ‘New Red Fire.’

20150425_085940A bit more of a close up. ‘New Red Fire’ is a looseleaf variety. Red, obviously, but not a dark red.

20150425_085950Closer look at the ‘Flashy Butter Oak.’ This is an oakleaf variety that is green with red speckles/flecks/streaks.

20150425_090036This is a heat tolerant romaine called ‘Jericho.’ It is looking good, so it will be interesting to see how it does as the weather gets warmer. (And it looks like it is finally going to be consistently warmer!)

20150425_090013This variety is ‘Muir,’ a heat tolerant, bright green, looseleaf variety. And that’s it for lettuce!

20150425_090127I know this doesn’t look like much, but our bed of beans was planted last week. At the far end is the trellis for the pole beans.

Some of the herbs and flowers were planted this week, more to come, as well as tomatoes and peppers next week. Herb Day is Saturday, so come out and see the garden in real life!

I’ll post another update…sometime…!

Friday PhotoEssay: March 27th

We’ve had two work days over the last two weeks and one hailstorm. Most of the cleanup involved removing a few remaining dead plants, raking up the remaining straw from last year, and collecting leaves that had blown in and taken up residence on the paths. We also planted potatoes, strawberries, cut back herbs, dug horseradish, and worked in all the compost we had stored in the shed from last year.

The garden is all spic and span and ready to grow!

On one hand, I was a little disappointed in how weak a lot of the strawberry plants were coming through the winter. The ‘Ozark Beauty’ were very thin and weak. The ‘Ogallala’ were better, and they were stronger last fall too, since they had sent runners down to the path that had taken root. I ordered more ‘Mara des Bois’ for the section of the bed that ended up being planted to peanuts last year, and we ended up pulling many of the wimpy ‘Ozark Beauty’ plants and replanting with the ‘Mara des Bois.’ The picture is of a couple of the newly planted bareroot plants that are just starting to peek out leaves.

One thing that was definitely not any worse after the winter was the horseradish. Not that it was surprising, because horseradish is one of those plants that is harder to kill than it is to keep alive. We dug out some nice big roots, and the plan is to use this bed for peppers this year instead. Those of you that have grown horseradish can now start laughing at the people who will be busy trying to keep the horseradish from re-colonizing this bed.

So I had the lettuce, chard, and kale outside hardening off on Wednesday. And I left it out overnight because I figured that 35 degrees wouldn’t hurt it and would be good for it. And then it hailed. It was in the cold frame, but not under the covered part. Oops. Luckily, the majority of the lettuce looks none the worse for wear. The chard looks the worst, because it has spindly, unprotected stems at this stage and not many protective leaves. Most of it will probably be okay, but it is a bit of a setback.

Look at that yummy compost! We are lucky to have our Master Gardener compost committee working hard all year round to provide us with great compost! We topped off several of our beds with compost last week. This bed was pretty low, so it will be nice and rich with that compost this year.

Have a great weekend!

2015 Garden Plans: Strawberries

We had so much trouble getting the strawberries established last year that we are giving them another chance! The plants that finally started to thrive are going to stay, even though they are kind of a mixture of different types. We did order some ‘Mara des Bois’ strawberries to fill in the area that had peanuts last year.

For a refresher on the plans last year: 2014 Garden Plans.

Friday PhotoEssay – August 8th

It rained again! Quite a bit actually. The rain gauge in the garden only measured about 2″, but I hadn’t realized that the Cuban Oregano had kind of grown over it. So…we’re just guessing. Then again, we’re not that far from the airport that recorded less than an inch. My neighbor recorded 3.5 inches. (My rain gauge at home is laying on its side…not very effective for measuring the rain.)

Here’s the whole garden picture from this morning. I feel like we are in a “maximum garden growth” stage with not much visible change at this point. Well…until you get closer, that is.

 There are a couple small berries on the ‘Ozark Beauty’ plants. They both had a couple of small bug bites, so I picked them off and sampled the other side of the fruit. My opinion? They were soft, which is understandable given the rain, but still too soft. It is usually considered “okay” for a fruit grown in a home garden to be softer, but I think these would have been mush by the time you picked a bowl full and took them inside. Assuming you could get a bowl full. They are small, which is also annoying. What would make up for these factors? Great flavor. Well…in this case the flavor was okay, but mostly just sweet with no depth. Again, partially explained by the rain, but still… This is a variety that you can find at lots of box stores in the spring and is touted as one of the best “everbearing” strawberries for home gardeners.

Okay, because I can, I’m going to compare these to another variety (not in the Demo Garden) just to show the difference.

These strawberries are a variety called ‘Albion,’ which is one of the day neutrals we considered planting in this garden. Instead we chose ‘San Andreas’ which was supposed to be better than this variety. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it, we suspect due to residual herbicide issues. I have been getting a solid handful of berries from my plants (and a friend with the same plants has too). The berries are consistently medium to large sized, firm but not too firm, and have GREAT flavor.  This is a variety that is a commercial variety for market growers. Maybe I’m missing something, but why wouldn’t this variety be better in your home garden too? Why as a home gardener should you be given the “best” choice of something that is clearly sub-par rather than a great variety like this one?

Okay, end of mini-rant.

This is yet another case in point of why it is a good idea to pick your heirloom tomatoes early, when they just start to turn, rather than wait until they are fully ripe. This horrendous crack is due entirely to the rain we got.

Do you see it? Do you see the tinge of pink showing up on this head of quinoa? Am I way to excited/anxious about this quinoa getting to the colorful stage? Yes, probably just a bit. If you think I may be more excited about the colors than actually harvesting the quinoa, you may be right.

We have some radish seedlings! These are the Watermelon Radishes which seem to get planted at least every other year in the garden. These are in the MG Faves garden, so we will be looking for some colorful radishes later this fall.

Have a great weekend!