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Friday PhotoEssay – June 9, 2017

Lots of plants are blooming in our garden this week – and that’s not always a good thing!

35031930602_45365981f0With warm weather, the garden continues to grow rapidly. Nothing ever stays the same, and over the next week we will be removing some spring plants and planting a few more summer plants.

35031904862_bbb559f4d7The potatoes are now in full bloom. Between the rather showy white flowers and the purple tinge on the leaves, the plants are beautiful. They are also getting a bit floppy. I’m concerned that the yield may not be great due to excess nitrogen, but we won’t know that until later. Typically, we assume that tuber growth has started once flowering begins and harvest is after the plants have died back.

35031914982_90a4d01203Of the carrots we have planted in the Grocery Garden, one is ‘Dragon,’ a purple-skinned, orange fleshed heirloom. With the spring weather, several of the carrot plants are bolting. Once bolted, the carrot root will be more bitter and fibrous, as well as simply smaller that otherwise. Carrots can grow well here in good soil, but they are more reliable in the fall. The warming temperatures in the spring can cause many varieties to bolt.

35066831521_d687b007c7Also blooming this week is the cilantro. We have been growing a variety, ‘Calypso,’ that is supposed to be slower to bolt. Really, not bolting until early June is very good results for cilantro in Kansas. And even though it has bolted, the flowers are edible and then the seeds can be used for coriander later.

35031896952_29eb30a54f The tomatoes are flowering and even starting to set some fruit. This is the ‘Little Napoli’ that is in the Accessible Garden. It was impressive last year, and looks like it is on the same track this year.

35197347145_3553f919a0Hmm…no flowers here to fit with the theme. Still, I wanted to show off how good the kale and chard are looking in the Accessible Garden.

Flooded Gardens

If your garden flooded during the rainfall last week, your produce may not be safe to eat!

After flooding has occurred, the best way to ensure that your produce is safe is to not consume any of it. However, it can be very difficult to throw away a lot of produce that still looks okay.

  • If your garden was flooded by rainwater that just didn’t soak in as fast due to the amount of rain, most of the produce is probably safe, if you are sure there were no likely contaminants in the area (fecal matter, industrial chemicals, etc).
  • If your garden was flooded by water coming out of ditches, rivers, ponds, or other sources, you should assume that the produce is contaminated. All ripe produce should be harvested and discarded, especially anything normally consumed raw.
  • For complete details on safety of produce after flooding, please refer to this fact sheet: Safely Using Produce from Flooded Gardens

Prepping for Fall & Beating the Heat

Many years, fall is my favorite time in the garden here in Kansas. The tricky thing is getting yourself into a “fall” mindset when it is still blazingly hot in early August. Yes, now is the time to plan, prepare, and plant your fall vegetable garden!

28637375082_2a128d6b64We started seeds for some of our fall plantings about 4-5 weeks ago: broccoli, cauliflower, Japanese winter bunching onion, kale, and bok choy.

I moved them outside onto the table near the building last week, so they don’t look quite this nice anymore. The flea beetles are going to do a number on our fall brassicas, I’m afraid.

Despite the heat, I wanted to get at least some of these plants in the ground, because they are drying out too fast in the cell trays.

Timing isn’t too critical on some of these, but the broccoli and cauliflower may not have a long enough growing season if we don’t plant them soon.

We also have a number or root vegetables that need to be planted soon if we want to get a good crop.

Things like lettuce and spinach need to wait a few more weeks, because the soil is just too warm to plant now. They also grow faster, so we can afford to wait a bit longer to plant.

28667125631_6b55452f2a

In preparation for planting some of our root vegetables next week, we put a thick layer of straw mulch down in some of the planting areas. Organic mulches like straw can cool the soil up to 10 degrees in addition to helping with soil moisture. Hopefully we’ll get better germination because of the straw.

For more ideas and techniques about fall vegetable gardens, here are several posts about fall gardening from a few years ago:

Fall Gardening: Why Try It and What to Plant

Fall Gardening: Less Common Vegetables for Kansas

Fall Gardening: When to Plant

Fall Gardening: Dealing with Late Summer Heat

Fall Gardening: Dealing with Late Fall Cold

Fall Gardening: Kansas Climate Conditions for Extending into the Winter

Fall Gardening: Using Row Covers

Fall Gardening: Overwintering Vegetables for Spring

Friday PhotoEssay – June 17, 2016

Wow, it’s hot. I don’t know about your gardens, but in our garden the plants are definitely struggling to keep up with the heat. Because we had so much rain, many of them don’t have the developed root systems to deal with so much heat and evaporation. That said, our warm season veggies are starting to grow quickly.

One change that you can see is that we have mulched our peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. We only had two bales, so the straw isn’t very thick and there are areas yet to be mulched. Straw mulch helps cool the soil and maintain even soil moisture. It helps prevent evaporation, which I’m all for during a hot spell like this!

Most of our tomatoes have started to set fruit. This is ‘Tiren,’ a roma tomato. It has a really odd shape, which is kind of interesting. You can also see that one of them is starting to show signs of blossom end rot. This is very common on early season roma tomatoes in particular, but we’ve also had a little trouble with the drip system on the tomato garden. We will be watching to see if any of the other varieties also develop blossom end rot.

The purple cayenne pepper is also starting to set fruit. The flowers are purple, the stems are purple, and the peppers are purple. Eventually, the peppers will turn red when they reach the fully ripe stage.

The ‘Islander’ bell pepper is also setting some fruit, and this one is getting large enough that it is developing some of the lavender coloration. This pepper will also turn red eventually, but it is purple at what would typically be the “green” stage for a bell pepper.

The ‘Iznik’ snack cucumber is starting to flower a bit. It has fairly small fruit and a supposedly compact plant form, so we will be watching it for productivity and how much space it takes as it grows.

Last but not least…our semi-regular look-in at the pollinator garden. It isn’t filling in very rapidly, but we have some great flowering going on!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – June 3, 2016

It seems as though the recent rainy spell has come to an end, and we had a lot of catch up to do in the garden this week.

The tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, and peas have been growing well despite the rain and cool temperatures. The peppers and eggplant are languishing a bit, and some of the vine crops haven’t come up well.

Despite the fact that it hasn’t been that warm, some of the lettuces have still started bolting, particularly the oakleaf varieties. We harvested heavily yesterday, leaving these “lettuce trees” behind. Normally the main lettuce stem stays squat and near the ground. These are bolting (going to seed) and so the stem has lengthened out to put on the flower stalk. We will probably remove the lettuce from this bed next week. The lettuce in the other quilt block is more heat tolerant and isn’t bolting yet.

When we planted the Black Scorzonera seeds, we were a little bit concerned because it was supposed to take up to three weeks to germinate and the soil needed to be kept moist. Thankfully, the soil staying moist wasn’t an issue at all! We also had very quick and high germination. I’m excited to see how these do.

The tomatoes took advantage of the weather to get a little bit taller than I might have preferred before the first tie on the stake & weave. We did that yesterday. We also removed the lower suckers from the plants. If you’ve never seen a stake & weave system in person, come out and take a look over the next few weeks as the plants grow.

The tomatoes on the cattle panel trellis have also been growing well. We removed the larger suckers on these as well and used plant clips to attach them to the trellis.

We harvested a bunch of the purple kohlrabi this week, leaving just a few of the smaller ones for another time. They have done very well!

The K-State Purple garden is really showing off right now…we also harvested a nice amount of purple snow peas from the trellis.

Last but not least, a quick check-in with our Pollinator garden. It’s doing well, although hasn’t filled in much with the cool weather.

Have a great weekend!