Blog Archives

Friday PhotoEssay

Let’s take a look around the garden this week, shall we?

This purple tomatillo is just about the perfect stage of ripeness. I would have been able to demonstrate that better if the husk had stayed on when I picked it. Unfortunately, it stayed on the plant. You can see the difference in the purple color of the part that was exposed to the sun versus the part that was hidden under the husks.

Sticking with the purple theme, here’s our first ripe ‘Indigo Rose’ tomato. The purple coloration has been evident for a few weeks and also tends to increase with sun exposure. The under color, a rather bright orange shows that it’s ripe. Unfortunately when you mix orange and purple, you tend to get a rather ugly brown color. While unique, these definitely aren’t an attractive tomato. I haven’t tasted one yet, but from what I’ve heard the flavor also isn’t great.

This is a look at the unripe ‘Indigo Rose’ tomatoes. You can see the variability in purple coloration. (Also the spider mites on the leaves.) The dark purple one is much prettier, but still unripe and green when you look at the bottom.

We noticed on Tuesday morning that the mandevilla have these nice bright orange aphids all over them. We borrowed some ladybug larvae from the cucumbers to have a snack.

The Red Aztec Spinach has reached the point where it is putting up flower buds/seed heads. The leaves and the flower buds are generally considered to be the edible parts of the plant. My husband things the leaves taste like raw green beans. The bud clusters aren’t as big or thick as I wish they were. If you are interested, here are a couple links to recipes. (It is easier to find recipes by using the name “Huazontle.”)

This salvia has been hanging out in the Prairie Star Annual bed all summer and overall looking rather ugly and disgusting. Then, all of a sudden, after a couple weeks of cool weather, it is in full bloom and looks great! Now I have to wonder if it was the weather causing it to look bad or if it just doesn’t bloom well until later in the summer.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

It’s Friday again! I hope you all enjoyed the mostly cooler week! I know that I did.

Even though zucchini aren’t as good once they get big, the white stripes on the ‘Sunstripe’ zucchini really pop once they get bigger (left side of picture). We picked 3 more of the ‘Fairy’ squash that were more orange than last time we tried them. Hopefully they are riper than last time for those that took them home.

For some reason I always have this idea that tomatillos are smallish, bushy, well-behaved plants, kind of like peppers. It always surprises me then, when they end up outgrowing their cages and sprawling all over everything. This tomatillo branch is even growing up through the melon trellis!

All of a sudden, the jicama suddenly seems ready to grow more. It is going to have to fight its way through the melon vines for space on the trellis. I’m afraid it is too little too late for anything productive to come of it, but we’ll see!

Look at this! We got a few fruit off the Litchi Tomato plants! They are smaller that I’ve seen in the past (the plants aren’t as productive either), but I guess that given the summer we’ve had, I can’t complain too much.

We do have a couple tomatoes set on the Indigo Rose plants. They are still green, but you can already see the fun purple sheen to them. The purple intensifies with exposure to the sun, and the fruit will be kind of an orange color underneath as they ripen.

I know I posted a picture much like this last week, but I really like the combo of the purple tomatillos and red serrano peppers.

Have a great weekend!

Other Harvests From the Garden This Week

Even though we’re only recording the Family of 4 Garden harvests diligently, we are still getting a lot of produce from other areas as well.

We did harvest one of the ‘Lambkin’ melons this week. It was the smaller one that was looking more yellow. If you can’t guess from looking at this cross-section, we probably should have left it on the vine for another week or so. Oh well! These non-cantaloupe melons are tricky! It was still pretty crunchy and was more bland than sweet.

We also harvested 5 of the Tasty Bites cantaloupe. These were very tasty! They also have strong enough vines that they aren’t falling off the trellis…at least not yet.

We had some gorgeous purple tomatillos last week, and this week the green ones are starting to ripen. They aren’t as large as I think they should be, but we’re not going to complain. We were also surprised to see a few red jalapenos and serranos on the peppers plants that have been struggling in the Mexican Garden.

I’ve got a few more things to show off, but I think I’ll save those for the PhotoEssay tomorrow!

Friday PhotoEssay

Today has been so crazy that I almost forgot it was Friday! Last week I had a good excuse – Tomato Day – for not getting a PhotoEssay post done. I don’t know what my excuse is for today, other than I have somehow been busy all day. I did finish the first draft of a publication on Fall Gardening that I think I will probably break down into pieces for this fall.

Although it has still be nasty hot this week, a few days of more overcast skies have made it not seem quite so bad. I’m also looking forward to the Sunday forecast…91 for a high and 65 for a low!?!? I don’t know if I can handle the cold! Okay, I’ll stop looking at the long range forecast now, because I’ll just be disappointed when it gets to be August 15th and it isn’t 83 degrees and rainy.

Between the late planting, the herbicide damage, and the heat, we haven’t gotten a single ripe tomato out of the garden this year (except for the hanging basket cherry tomatoes). It is kind of a bummer to not have tomatoes for the second year in a row, even though it was an unfortunate set of circumstances that brought it on this year. The picture is from one of the ‘Solar Fire’ plants, which does have a few green tomatoes set. I’m guessing they were set during that partial week of mid-90s back in the first half of July. ‘Solar Fire’ is a heat set variety, so it would be more likely to set in those conditions. It is one of the only plants with much to show for tomatoes so far.

The tomatillos, on the other hand, are doing quite well. This is an heirloom ‘Purple’ tomatillo, which produces these bright purple 1 1/2 inch fruit. They are pretty small for tomatillos, but I’m super impressed by the color! Often purple vegetables are not as brilliantly colored in “real life” as in the catalogs.

This is the first of the Litchi Tomatoes I’ve seen starting to ripen. It isn’t quite there yet…it should be a deeper red color. Aren’t those spines impressive, though?

We may have planted the ‘Cardinal’ Basil in the Edible Flowers garden, but I keep wishing we had a cutting flower garden this year, because they would be gorgeous in a bouquet!

We found this butterfly out hanging around one of the melons earlier this week. It was acting a little lethargic, so hopefully it had either laid some eggs to finish its lifecycle or it was able to become more energetic later on. I think it’s a Black Swallowtail…anyone have a definite opinion?

This is the first flower I’ve seen on our ‘Thai Red Roselle’ (edible hibiscus). The plants are not as red as I was expecting them to be (see my comments on the purple tomatillos), and the buds are also really tiny. I think it is technically the calyxes (the part behind the petals) that are left behind after the flower has bloomed  that we want to use for teas and cooking. We’ll be keeping an eye on it in the next couple weeks.

Have a great (cooler?!?) weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

We are somehow back to Friday and ready for another Friday PhotoEssay. There have been some interesting developments in the garden this week.

For instance, the Jicama has FINALLY started sending out tendrils. We soaked the seeds and planted them inside what seems like eons ago, and then we transplanted them in mid-May with everything else. They had some pretty severe transplant shock, and for weeks have been sitting and not growing much. All of a sudden, it is actually starting to send out vining tendrils. They are supposed to get 10-20 feet long, so it will be interesting to see how fast they grow now that they’ve gotten a start.

This is on the ‘Cisineros Grande’ tomatillo plant. We actually have 4 plants (2 different varieties) this year, and it is amazing how much better they are doing with setting fruit when you follow the recommendations to have more than 1 plant/variety, since they don’t self-pollinate very well. This variety is supposed to be 2-3″ in diameter, hence the big husk that hasn’t split yet.

I guess this PhotoEssay is something of a mini-tour from the Mexican Garden! The squash from the Mexican garden is doing quite well, and it is just so different looking from the normal darker greens and yellows. The round is ‘Ronde de Nice’ and the oblong is ‘Sweet Gourmet.’

A gratuitous ‘Fairy’ squash blossom with the leaves in the background. I warned you that this plant is taking the place of Swiss Chard in my photography this summer.

The ‘Sunshine’ Kabocha squash is doing well and maturing rapidly. It isn’t ripe yet. It should be a bright scarlet at that point. I noticed that one of these walked off on us last weekend. I understand that in an open, public garden, produce will walk away. However, it is really frustrating when people pick unripe produce, because then it is just a waste. I am always tempted to put up some kind of snarky sign, but that probably isn’t in keeping with the welcoming atmosphere!

This is the Cardinal Basil in the Edible Flowers garden. Usually we want to keep the flowers trimmed off to keep the plants producing tender, flavorful leaves. On this variety, we are going for the ornamental characteristic of the flowers. Basil flowers are typically tall, skinny, individual stalks. This is a much more organized cluster, and it should get bigger yet. Now if only that edible hibiscus will hurry up and flower…

Have a great weekend! Head on out to the Sedgwick County Fair in Cheney if you are looking for something to do!