Friday, October 22, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Many of our cool season crops will continue to produce through the light frosts of fall. The broccoli and cabbages we planted in early August are not quite ready but the mustard greens we planted in the heat of summer have been prolific for several weeks.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
In these dog days of summer, okra seems to be the happiest plant in the garden. The tomato plants are stressed from the heat and the squash plants dead from squash bugs, but the okra plants need to be picked several times a week.
The Jack-in-the-Beanstalk story may have been inspired by the growth rate of okra pods as they reach full size within 6 days of flowering! The pods are most tender when they're 2-4" long. Larger pods become stringy and tough but may still be tender and edible in good growing conditions
Okra is a tropical plant that loves the heat and tolerates brief periods of drought. It's relatively problem free and any pests bother the leaves, not the pods. The only growing challenge is getting the seeds to sprout as okra seeds don't germinate well in cool soils.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Despite our hot August weather this week, it's time to plant for the fall garden. On Saturday at the Harvesters Demonstration Garden, we planted seeds for cilantro, bush beans and mustard greens. We planted seedlings of cabbage and broccoli.
Cilantro is another excellent fall crop as it likes cool weather better than hot weather. Many gardeners who plant cilantro in the spring think they have a failed crop when the weather warms up. Their cilantro fails to thrive because heat causes cilantro to flower. When it flowers, it doesn't produce large green leaves for picking.
For a detailed planting calendar for what you can plant now, visit http://kccg.org/gardening/calendar on the website of the Kansas City Community Gardens.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Swiss Chard, Gypsy Peppers and Sweet Potatoes are all easy-to-grow, prolific and nutritious. And if you think a prolific vegetable must be something you need to hide behind the garage, think again about these vegetable valedictorians. These three aren’t dowdy dweebs but beautiful babes that look great all season and require minimal maintenance.
We pick bags and bags of Swiss Chard all season long. Rabbits don’t seem to like it and it tolerates heat, inattention and mild freezes. You can buy varieties with red, yellow or green stems or a mix of all three like “Bright Lights.”
It's incredibly hardy. Here's a photo of a "volunteer" Swiss Chard plant that survived last winter in the Harvesters Garden.
Swiss Chard is vitamin rich and you can eat both the stalk and leaves. It’s much easier to grow than spinach but you can cook it similarly. Sauté it with onion and garlic or mix it with scrambled eggs. With its tolerant attitude in the garden and its nutrition on the table, Swiss Chard is probably the most under appreciated of all vegetables.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Most gardeners become “mad about mulch” because it saves many hours of back-bending labor.
Mulch has so many benefits:
- · Mulch reduces weeds by making it hard for weeds to sprout and emerge
- · It retains moisture in the soil and helps water slowly and steadily get to the roots
- · Mulch prevents soil from splashing on plants. This helps reduce the spread of soil-born diseases and keeps your vegetables cleaner
- · Mulch helps prevent soil erosion (we’ve seen this in Kansas City gardens recently with heavy rains)
- · Mulch can lower soil temperature by as much as 20-25 degrees which helps cool season plants keep producing.
We spread 2-3 inches of straw as mulch throughout the Harvesters Demonstration Garden this month. You can also use shredded leaves or newspaper as mulch in vegetable gardens. Grass clippings work well as long as you avoid grass full of seed heads or clippings treated this season with a herbicide. (Don’t spread grass clippings more than 2 inches thick as they are likely to stink! They're also unpleasant if you don't spread them within about a day after cutting the lawn.)
In the container gardens at the Harvesters Demonstration Garden, we use wood chips as mulch because wood chips stay in place better than straw. Avoid using wood chips in areas which you’ll till next season since they don’t decompose quickly.
Apply mulch after the soil warms up and plants are 4 inches or taller. Late May or June are great times to put down mulch in our climate so you minimize weeding and watering.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
A row of pole beans was planted next to a trellis. The trellis is a "cattle panel" which we purchased at a local farm store. It's very sturdy so will easily support the pole beans that will climb on it.
This photo of the entire garden shows how the cool season plants we put in a month ago have really taken off. This weekend, we harvested lettuce for the first time this season!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
The garden needs helpers besides humans; look where the finger points to see the bumblebee who pollinated our apple tree.
First, we dug out all the weeds and put them on the compost pile.
We then tilled the soil to create a nice bed for seeds to easily germinate. The garden had been weeded and tilled by 11:30am!
We created our own potting soil for our containers by mixing perlite, compost and soil together in equal amounts.
We planted "cool season" crops that can withstand a light frost as our average last frost date in Kansas City is April 15. We planted seeds of lettuce, spinach, cilantro, swiss chard, turnips, mustard greens, parsley, beets, carrots and peas. We also planted onion sets, seed potatoes (which are parts of or whole potatoes) and plants which had been started a few weeks ago in the greenhouse: lettuce, brussel sprouts, cabbage (red and green), broccoli and collards.