The Garden of My Dreams!

I had the privilege of working in one of the tour gardens for the Kansas State extension, Johnson County Master Gardener 2012 tour.  Many Master Gardeners helped out,  starting with winter clean up in March and as the Spring progressed, planting, transplanting, clipping and generally tidying the garden so all was ready for the tour in mid-May.

I chose this garden to work in since it is the garden of my dreams.  It sits on a large lot in an older neighborhood, with lots of established trees.  There are nooks throughout the yard for a massive shade garden, a sun garden, a vegetable garden and a fabulous herb garden.  I got lots of ideas for new plantings I will try in my garden and this garden fueled my imagination for some design tweaking in my garden.  After all, that’s what gardening is about, isn’t it – ever evolving.

Here are some photos of the garden – Enjoy!

Loved this birdhouse!

The resident cat found the most comfy spot in the tour

I like the lower sided compost bins – makes it easier to turn the compost

The resident cat on his way to the comfy spot, or stalking a mouse – he looks intense

Loved this wreath

Lovely

Part of the sun garden

Total shade garden

Loved this picnic table – hard to see but there is a candle chandeleir over the table

Lovely herb garden

Welcoming arbor leading into the herb garden

The violets grow wild (really are a weed in the lawn), but are kept in control in this shady spot

Another view of the picnic table

 

Johnson County Kansas Master Gardener Tour May 18th and 19th, 2012!

The fabulous Kansas State Extension Master Gardener tour is May 18 and 19, 2012 if you live in Kansas City. I worked in the Fairway, KS garden along with other Master Gardeners and it is FABULOUS! If you live in the Kansas City area and love gardens, this is a great tour. Tickets can be purchased at the gardens.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful.

http://www.johnson.ksu.edu/p.aspx?tabid=112

Diggin’ In The Dirt – Shawnee Indian Mission

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Today was a clean up and planting day in the Shawnee Indian Mission Garden with my fellow Kansas State Extension Master Gardeners.  Today’s work involved turning the soil, weeding, tidying up straggly perennial herbs and planting of early spring crops.  There were actually several lettuce plants that survived the winter.  Instead of sending them to the compost pile, a few of us had salads for lunch!

We’re in the process of making the herb garden that resided in the vegetable garden smaller to make room for some additional veggies, all grown for local food pantries.  We’ll move the herbs to another small garden at the Shawnee Indian Mission. I’ve never used string to lay out a veggie garden but may do so this year to create a more symmetrical look than my general haphazard “design”.

Here’s are photos of the bare spring garden.

Kansas City Eat Local and Organic Expo

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I’m looking forward to attending the 14th annual famers eat local and organic expo in Kansas City this coming Saturday.  I’m interested in chatting with some of the farmers about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  I’ve participated in a CSA in the past and it is very nice to get fresh produce that is seasonal directly from the farmer.  I haunt the farmers’ markets during the growing season but thought this year I’d supplement it with a CSA.  Who knows, I may get produce that is new to me and I’m always game to try new fruits and veggies!

The expo is being held this weekend in the Shawnee Civic Center and next weekend at Penn Valley Community College.

Here is a pdf flyer on the event, as well as the link to K.C. Food Circle which is all-volunteer,  grassroots organization created to promote the development of a permanently sustainable local food system.

http://www.kcfoodcircle.org/wp-content/uploads/ExpoAdSmallFlyer.pdf

http://www.kcfoodcircle.org/about/

A Dream Fulfilled – Becoming A Master Gardener

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I recall gardening with my grandfather when I was little and loving his worm patch/compost pile, into which he threw all the kitchen scraps my grandma kept by the sink in an iron skillet with no handle.  He was an organic gardener, lovingly tending his flower and veggie garden, all without the assistance of chemicals.  We would wander through his large peony and rose gardens, my grandpa chatting with me about this and that.  Now, I know he was sharing his knowledge.  I would give anything to have some of his transplanted flowers in my garden.  But, I think of my grandpa, every time I look at my own peonies and climbing roses.

My goal for many, many years has been to be a Master Gardener.  I have had gardens ever since I was in high school, even in all our rental apartments and houses.  When we bought our first house, a requirement was a large yard.  The perennial garden in that house took shape over the years.  I was planting perennial plants long before the local garden centers sold anything but trees, bushes and annuals.  The big box stores, where you can buy all kinds of perennials in today’s world, didn’t even exist.  In those days you had to order perennials through a catalog, such as Wayside Gardens, and many would come bare root.  I’ve got to say that I never had much luck with bare root plants.

Anyway, last summer I had the privilege of being accepted into the 2012 class of the Kansas State Extension Master Gardeners of Johnson County.  We went through our training last fall – 9 weeks of all day (on Tuesdays) presentations by Kansas State professors and other horticulture experts about their areas of expertise.  There was so much knowledge shared with us that, at times, it was overwhelming.

We Master Gardeners start “digging in the dirt” this week at our demonstration gardens, assuming the soil is dry enough to work, after all our rain.  I am working in the Shawnee Indian Mission vegetable and herb garden, and am working in one of the gardens that will be on the Master Gardeners biannual garden tour May 18th and 19th.  I am looking forward to working in the gardens; learning more about vegetable gardening; and developing new friendships.  I have to say, I have found over the years that gardeners tend to be the nicest people when it comes to sharing knowledge.

I will blog about the Master Gardener 2012 tour; the Shawnee Indian Mission gardens and other Master Gardener topics of interest as the year progresses.  Save the dates of May 18th and 19th for the Master Gardener Tour, if you live in the Kansas City area.  The tour never disappoints and provides a wealth of knowledge.

Here are links to the Shawnee Indian Mission and the Master Gardener tour if you’re interested.

http://www.kshs.org/portal_shawnee_indian_mission

http://www.johnson.ksu.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=112

 

Kansas State Research and Extension – A Fabulous Resource!

Your state’s extension service is an invaluable resource for gardening information.  In Johnson County, Kansas, the extension office in Olathe has pamphlets on every type of gardening topic you might be interested in.  The on-line resources are superb.  It is all research based information, so you know you’re getting the best.  Here’s a link to the extension general web site, so you can see what it has to offer:

http://www.johnson.ksu.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=1

Each extension office’s gardening advice is geared toward the state it is located in.  It’s easy to understand and, best of all, generally free.  Here is a link to Kansas State’s guide to growing vegetables.  I am a “visual” person and particularly like the graph on planting and harvest times for many veggies on page 3.  Time to get planting!

http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/hort2/mf315.pdf

Here is a link to another more extensive garden guide from Kansas State, that goes into more detail on numerous topics, including planning a garden, improving the soil, composting, growing herbs, as well as veggies, composting, etc.  If you’re interested in gardening, check it out.

http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/hort2/s51.pdf

In addition, the extension office hosts a gardeners hotline throughout the year.  It is “manned” by Kansas State Extension Master Gardeners from March – October and by horticulture experts for the quieter gardening months.  You can call or e-mail or drop by and ask about any gardening question and get knowledgable advice.  Phone: (913) 715-7050;  Email:garden.help@jocogov.org

Here’s a link to the EMG hotline web site for further information:

http://www.johnson.ksu.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=107

Counting the days until I can get diggin’ in the dirt!

 

 

Time to Thin

I usually buy plants at the garden centers right before I put them in the ground.  However, the selection tends to be limited and I wanted to try some heirloom varieties, so I thought I’d branch out by growing from seed.  Thanks goodness, my sis has a grow light and enjoys nursing these “babies” along.

The tomato plants are growing like weeds.  My sister and I thinned each peat pot down to the sturdiest seedling but we’re going to have to transplant these to larger pots since we won’t be getting the tomatoes in the ground until early May.  Plus, we’ll be giving some away since we have a total of 72 tomato plants and, because of space limitations, we’re only planting a few of each variety in our gardens. The scallions are still a little spindly but are coming along.  The eggplants and marjoram are doing well.

It’s rained steadily all week long and the ground is saturated, so I can’t even get into the garden and mark out the design of the kitchen garden beds without doing damage by compacting the soil.  It’s supposed to turn spring-like again tomorrow, so I am hoping the ground dries out in the next few days.  It will be nice to have sunshine for a change!

The Winter That Wasn’t

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In 2012, we had an unseasonably warm winter in Kansas City.  By early March I usually have cabin fever after lots of snow and many dreary, cold days. This year, however, was different, with less than 3 inches of snow, lots of sunshine and numerous days above 50 degrees.  But, regardless of the winter weather, I start itching to “dig in the dirt” by early March.  This year the unseasonably 70 and 80 degree March weather has put me in overdrive.  However, it’s far too early to plant any flowers or veggies that are cold sensitive since we can still get killing frosts until early May.

So, what’s a girl to do?  Enlist her sister to start seedlings indoors for both our kitchen gardens.  Under her grow lights, we’ve got Aunt Ruby’s German Green and Crimson Carmello heirloom tomatoes, as well as a Roma sauce tomato.  We’re also growing Italian scallions, tomatillos, marjoram, and two types of eggplant – Listada de Gardia and Rosa Bianca.  We will be direct sowing a lot of our veggies and herbs closer to May.

Just so my sister doesn’t get to have all the fun, I also planted some mesclun lettuce in containers I can move inside if (and when) there is a killing frost.  I planted both varieties of lettuce last year, Monet’s Garden Mesclun and “Cut and Come Again” baby mesclun.  These provided lettuce for my daily salads up until the hottest days of the summer.  These lettuces are from Renee’s Garden.  Check out her web site for some interesting veggie seeds.  http://reneesgarden.com  You can purchase the seeds locally at Family Tree Nurseries.

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