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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!

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.

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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 – July 17, 2015

The garden is growing well in the heat, but we are starting to see the effects of the heat. Spider mites are popping up on the beans and tomatoes, the squash are looking a bit scorched, and the strawberries are tiny. Let’s take a look!

The garden doesn’t look quite as lush and green as it has some years, but that’s okay. The combination of rain and heat has been challenging, so it isn’t surprising to see things looking a little less than ideal.

Most of the tomato varieties are just starting to ripen. This is actually the normal average for ripening here, although the last few years have been such odd tomato years it is hard to keep track. This tomato is one of the new ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ that we are trying. As you can see, the cracks are problematic. That said, almost all of the varieties we’re growing have some cracks this year. Cracking is a very common problem in Kansas, primarily caused by fluctuating moisture levels and temperature. That pretty much describes this year! The best solution to cracking is to harvest fruits early and let them ripen indoors.

Many of the tomato varieties have good fruit set, but I’m particularly impressed with this ‘Italian Gold’ variety, an heirloom roma with golden yellow skin and flesh.

The spring planting of beans are starting to show signs of spider mites. The yellow and white stippling on this leaf is caused by spider mites. While we could try treating, I think that we will probably pull these beans out in a week or two and replant for the fall.

After harvesting the pitiful amount of zucchini off these plants on Monday, we decided to leave the row cover off from here on out. (Partly because we didn’t think we could get it back on. Clearly our design needs some work…) The removal of the row cover has resulted in floppy plants and some sunburn on the leaves, not surprisingly. I expect the plants will improve quickly though.

Tiny strawberry! No, they aren’t supposed to be this size, but considering the heat, I’m impressed that there are fruit at all. Everbearing/day neutral strawberries typically will not set fruit at temperatures over 85 degrees. The flavor was nothing to write home about either. It was very sour.

We have Saturday Sampler coming up tomorrow at 9 a.m., featuring summer squash/zucchini. This is one of the ‘Tromboncino’ squash that is supposed to be resistant to squash vine borers. So far, so good on that front!

Have a great weekend!

Video Wednesday: Efficient Water Use

As the weather gets hotter, we want to make sure that we are using water as efficiently as possible.

Cold, Wet, Wet, Cold… Strawberries!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I live in Seattle or England, or someplace else that is reputed to be cold and rainy. While I’m not going to complain about the rain (too much), the colder than normal temperatures combined with the rain are causing some garden challenges that we are not used to seeing in Kansas. Namely, a lot of diseases and related problems that we aren’t used to! All those problems that are listed under the “caused by cool, wet conditions” we typically ignore. Well, not this year!

20150516_092950Luckily for us, the Demo Garden has excellent drainage (we installed drains a few years ago) and raised beds to help keep the soil warmer and drier than would otherwise be the case. Even so, we were still having issues with the beans due to cold soils. I’m curious to see how the squash does, particularly some of the heirlooms.

20150516_092618Of course, the lettuces and greens are perfectly happy with the weather. I’ve noticed some slugs and roly polys enjoying my lettuce at home, because they love the moisture. If you are seeing slugs or roly polys, the best thing to do is to improve the air circulation around your plants. In my case, I was seeing the problem in lettuce that I hadn’t yet gotten thinned out. The areas where the plants were not too thick were unaffected. Roly polys love decaying organic matter, so removing any damaged, diseased, or dying leaves is also important.

As I was belatedly thinning out my lettuce, I also noticed some leaves with disease lesions on them. Also due to cold, wet, and poor air movement.

Our Hotline has been taking lots of calls about fungus, including instances of potato plants rotting off. Cold, wet, poor drainage are the culprits. In this case, there’s not much to do now, other than do what you can to improve air circulation and drainage. We haven’t seen a problem in the demo garden since the potatoes are in a tall raised bed.

20150516_093028The new strawberries are happily filling in rapidly with the mild weather. The older plants are still producing some berries. Fruiting strawberries can be quite negatively affected by cold, wet weather. At home, I’ve observed slugs and roly polys eating fruit, as well as numerous berries with rotting fruit due to the wetness. Again, the keys are keeping the fruit as clean and dry as possible. I don’t have a good straw layer down, which is resulting in berries sitting on dead leaves – not good! The weather has resulted in me doing something that I almost NEVER do – pick fruit before it is 100% ripe. I’m sacrificing the best flavor for not damaged berries, which I’m willing to do under the circumstances. It’s also important to pick and remove any berries showing damage, because the rain will just keep spreading the fungal spores to the remaining fruit and the problem gets worse.

20150520_153436[1]The last problem that we can expect from the rain and cold is root damage. You can see this strawberry plant has some black and brown roots that have been damaged by the excess moisture. While we probably won’t see much sign of root damage until the rain stops, it’s likely to be a problem. I can already tell you that my basil at home isn’t going to make it. Signs of root damage include yellowing leaves, leaf curl/wilting (especially when the soil is still moist), and stunted growth. With as much rain as we’ve had, I also won’t be surprised if we see some nitrogen deficiencies in areas with sandier soils.

Well…except that we needed the rain, this post has been as gloomy as the weather! But it’s not all bad:

20150520_155208Have a great Memorial Day weekend!