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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!

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!

Friday PhotoEssay: Year in Review

I’ve been meaning to do the Year in Review post for the Friday PhotoEssay “whole garden” pictures for a couple weeks now. I guess it is good that I waited until now to get a true “after” shot from the cold.

March 10th after a snow!

April 3rd

April 11th

April 25th

May 2nd

May 9th

May 16th

May 23rd

May 30th

June 6th

June 13th

June 20th

June 27th

July 7th

July 11th

July 18th – I think this was pretty much the peak of the garden for the summer, don’t you? Maybe one of the two previous weeks, but this was a pretty green week.

July 24th

August 1st

August 8th

August 15th

August 22nd

August 28th – You can tell things are on the downhill slide now!

September 15th

September 19th

September 26th

October 3rd

October 17th

October 31st – The end of “summer” for the year.

November 21st – Almost put to bed for the winter!

Preparing for the Sudden Onslaught of Winter

I feel like I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the weather, but it really isn’t just idle conversation! The weather is extremely important to our success as gardeners. After one light freeze and lots of unseasonably warm weather, we are looking at more than a week of unseasonably cold temperatures. Overnight lows look like they will be hovering in the upper teens to low 20s for the better part of the next two weeks. (At least that low of 9 degrees is gone, for now!) Many of the cool season vegetables will tolerate temperatures down to 24 or 25 without significant damage, but two weeks of lows down around 20 is probably a bit much for them to tolerate, especially when they haven’t been hardened off with cold-but-not-too-cold temperatures.

So…it was time to harvest some things and cover others this afternoon! Because I can’t resist experimenting, I left one or two plants of almost everything in the garden, just to see what would happen.

We already had the cold frame out, but still open. We closed it up and tucked some straw along the back edge to keep the cold air out.

We also put hoops and row cover over the main section of spinach and radicchio. Normally I’d leave those out, but I think this will be a bit cold all of a sudden.

I left some of the other spinach around the garden uncovered, including the Indian variety. (I don’t have great hopes for its cold hardiness!)

I harvested a few of the radicchio plants to see what stage they were at. I also harvested the watermelon radishes, fennel, half the bunching onions, and most of the dandelion greens. I was just going to leave the lemongrass, but then I just couldn’t let it go to waste, so it went to our Foods & Nutrition department.

I’ll post more pictures and show what I did with some of the different vegetables later in the week!

Friday PhotoEssay – October 31

We made it to the “end” of the growing season! A few of the cold tolerant plants will keep going for a few more weeks, but everything else was removed this week. Take a look:

This is from Tuesday morning, before we started working. We got the cold frame out last week for a tour, although we haven’t needed to close it yet. Maybe tonight before we leave.

And this if from this morning. We did leave some of the herbs in, because we just couldn’t take them out when they were still looking good. I suspect that they will have to come out after this weekend.

We ended up with quite the pile in the “ready to compost” bin. Some of it may end up being to fibrous to easily compost, but it needed a chance!

The radishes were ready to harvest, so we pulled most of them. This is what happens when you plant all the radishes at once rather than staggering them. You get a LOT of radishes all at once.

We found these cool, lavender mushrooms growing under the cowpeas. No, we didn’t eat them, since we weren’t sure what they were.

A couple of the kohlrabi were ready to harvest, so we gave them a taste test. If you’ve never had kohlrabi, they taste a lot like a turnip, but a little sweeter and more mild.

The mystery of the browning leaves on the horseradish was solved…by actually looking more closely at the plants. They have a bunch of harlequin bugs making a home on them. These bugs are most commonly found on kale, so I was a little surprised they were on the horseradish. Given the upcoming cold weather, we decided not to worry about them for now. Especially since it’s highly unlikely they will come close to killing the horseradish.

The spinach is looking great, and I expect it will continue looking good for weeks to come. Fall spinach is the best, especially as the weather gets colder and the leaves get sweeter!

Have a great weekend! Stay warm!