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Friday PhotoEssay – July 15, 2016

With another week of sun, rain, and heat, the garden continues to grow quickly. Many of our vines and other warm season vegetables are finally putting on some good growth. Surprisingly, the tomatoes are still looking really good with minimal signs of disease or other problems.

28221838142_cbcf2fb300_zMany of the plants have reached full-size, although the vining crops have yet to fill the trellises.

28325457545_aa71fc5e8fThe Oriental Garden is really starting to look good. This ‘Ladyfinger’ okra didn’t germinate very well, but looking at the plants now, I’m glad that we only have 4 or 5 plants. They are starting to take over the surrounding area already! There are just a few buds starting to develop. Maybe by next week there will be some okra to show.


The ‘Goddess’ banana peppers are showing off this summer. We’ve grown banana peppers many times, but this variety is by far the most productive of the ones we’ve grown recently. The three plants have been loaded with peppers.

28221842412_58e03ea6dfThe Pollinator garden is looking great with bright colors of the milkweeds, zinnias, and sages. This garden will just continue to grow, change, and get more beautiful as the summer progresses.

28247003151_3433aeda65As I said earlier, the vines are just starting to take off. This is the Oriental garden. The left side of the trellises has beans and the luffa gourd. The right side of the trellises has cucmbers and melons. They are just starting to set fruit.

28222032172_6fcf0435ef_zDo you know what this is? It is the flower of a passionflower/passionfruit vine. I don’t know if it will actually produce fruit, but we are watching it grow and bloom in our Pollinator Garden. It is just starting to climb up the trellis.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

The garden here is loving all the rain for a change! I guess that is the flip side of our sandy soil – when it is dry it is really dry, but when it is wet it is only kind of wet instead of soggy.

Here’s a look at the whole garden for this week. It’s hard to see, but the potatoes are starting to fade a bit as are some of the onions. The tomatoes and pumpkins are growing like crazy.

 This is the Bitter Gourd (aka Bitter melon) vine. It is just starting to tendril, and the leaves are so different from our other vines. It is also very tender. The leaves and stem almost feel soft, especially compared to cucumbers and other vines that we grow.

This ‘Maraschino’ sage has grown well and is starting to bloom. We will have some happy bees and other insects this summer!

There were two little strawberries on the ‘Mara des Bois’ plant this morning. The three of us that were in the garden split them and gave them a try. They were good, but not exceptionally flavorful. They had almost a sweet-floral flavor and not much acid. Of course, given the rain, I’m surprised they tasted like anything at all.

The creeping savory is doing a pretty impressive job of creeping, since it started out in a tiny 2″ pot. Savory is the Herb of the Year next year, so it will be nice to have some good healthy plants growing.

We have green tomatoes! I went through all the plants this morning to check fruit set, and we have tomatoes on 5 of the 7 heirloom varieties. The two varieties that I couldn’t find any fruit set on were Opalka and Amana Orange. They are 80 and 90 days respectively, so I’m not surprised that they are lagging. I am also wondering if we are getting a little bit delayed fruit set due to high nitrogen. It is warm enough that the compost is starting to break down and release nitrogen, so it is possible that could be promoting foliar growth and inhibiting fruit set somewhat, because there weren’t lots of tomatoes set on any plants. Or it could just be that these are heirlooms and that is what they do!

Have a great weekend!

Demo Garden Work Day

Although the plants in the garden are growing like weeds (the weeds are also growing like weeds, in the interest of full disclosure!), we are kind of in that post-planting but pre-harvest lull in the garden. We continue to battle the cucumber beetles on the eggplant, and this week we started training the vines to the cattle panel trellises.

The Quiet Garden area looks so nice after getting everything planted and placed. It will only look better as the flowers continue to grow, fill in, and bloom.

Seemingly overnight, there seems to be an abundance of spurge growing everywhere in the garden. (With the ongoing concern about the beans and herbicide, I guess it’s nice that something is growing well?)

I found these two critters on one of the Purple Tomatillo plants. At first glance I thought they were potato bugs, and on second inspection, I wondered about striped cucumber beetles, but they didn’t look right. After consultation with a coworker, he suggested that they were striped blister beetles. UGH! And we thought cucumber beetles were a problem. UPDATE: Then another coworker saw this post and called with the information that it is a Threelined Potato Beetle. Not an insect I commonly see around here, and it is different than the Colorado Potato Beetle. They feed on potato plants, which would explain their presence on the tomatillos (potatoes are cousins). And from the looks of it, they are planning on reproducing and camping out for awhile longer.

As you can see, the plants in the Vertical Garden have been growing quickly. The plants on the right side are all different types of cucumbers. On the left side there is a mixture of vining winter squash and melons. The biggest, bushiest plants are the winter squash that are just barely starting to vine. We started clipping the running vines up to the panels today, despite the wind, because they will be humongous by next week at this rate!

Here you can see one of our Master Gardeners clipping up some of the cucumber vines. They are just long enough to be put up on the trellises, but you can see from the tendrils that they will be doing quite a bit of climbing on their own this week if the wind doesn’t knock them off.

Training Vines to Grow Vertically

I’ve posted a few pictures of things growing in our “Vertical” Garden, but I’m sure you are all wondering how the whole trellising process is going and exactly how we’re going about it. (Okay, maybe you weren’t wondering, but you should have been!)

This first picture is  look at what the whole garden looked like this morning before we did any work on the vines and getting the garden cleaned up.

(I will note that we did trellis everything last week as well, so everything that is growing all over the place has grown there since last week.)

You can see that the Malabar Spinach is growing well, the melons are making a carpet under the trellis, and it’s just a jungle down on the far end where the squash and cucumbers reside.

We try to keep from walking in the raised beds on a regular basis, but to really work with these vines, I had to get in under the trellises today!

The beans generally do a really good job of growing up the trellises on their own and don’t need much help.

The vines on the other hand – they need some help to climb the trellises. The first few vines on each plant did okay at climbing, but as you can see from the picture, that didn’t last long. The vine vegetables/fruits do have tendrils that will hold the plants up, but you have to get them up first.

So how do we get those vines up on the trellises and keep them there?

We are using these clips that you see on the right. These can be found as “tomato clips” or “tomato trellis clips,” and I think they work very well for trellising vine crops.

The way the clip on the right is used is how I think is best for clipping on this type of trellis. You try to clip around a spot where the wire cross, and clip the vine to the trellis right under a new leaf branching spot. This secures the vine so that it can’t slide down the trellis.

Generally, when you are tying up vines, you want to pick up and try to disentangle an individual vine, and twine it up the trellis in the spot that is most natural. I usually wrap the vine up, in and out of the wires, and then put a clip on one or two crosspieces from the top of the vine. This provides support for the whole vine, without risking damage to the top few inches of the vine.

This is the melons after looked like after we got the clips on this morning. You can see the clips are near the ends of the vines, but not right at the ends of the vines. Sometimes you just have to wait and put the clips on a couple days later.

Here’s what the garden looks like after getting all of those crazy vines twined and clipped onto our trellis. Much better! Of course, by next Tuesday, there will probably be a lot more vines growing in the middle of the bed, but hopefully we’ll also have a lot of vines growing all the way to the top of the trellis!

Friday PhotoEssay

Another week flew by, with lots of changes in the garden. I apologize for fairly light blogging, but the summer continues at a crazy pace. Yesterday, we had a bunch of kids from McConnell AFB here for a Garden Day camp, so we had a lot of fun, but obviously no blogging got done.

The ‘Marmande’ tomatoes are the first heirlooms to set fruit, and by almost unanimous consent, the kids yesterday said they looked like green pumpkins. They do, rather.

We harvested the leeks on Tuesday to make room for our summer, heat-set tomatoes. Some of the leeks were developing almost garlic-like bulbs, which is an interesting phenomenon. (Technically, elephant garlic is a type of leek, so I guess it isn’t too surprising.)

The squash, cucumbers, and melons are doing a great job vining themselves up the trellises. I expected them to take a little more training than they have so far. Even so, I’ve got some clips ordered to help with the trellising, because I expect we’ll need them later.

This “bug” is hanging out in our purple kale. It actually is of the Order Hemiptera, which are commonly called “true bugs,” so this is one insect that is correctly called a bug! This a Harlequin Bug, which is a pest of cabbage, horseradish, and other members of the cabbage family, which makes sense why it is on the kale. The “Insects in Kansas” book helpfully states, “some people might consider it a beneficial species when it feeds on Brussels sprouts and broccoli.” Gee, thanks! I’m not too worried about the presence of just one harlequin bug, but we’ll keep an eye on it.

Here’s the Family of 4 Garden before we harvested the onions and potatoes with the kids yesterday. We had a lot of fun digging in the dirt to find potatoes. We could have gotten bigger potatoes by waiting another couple weeks, but it was too much fun to pass up!

Have a great weekend!