The Garden Patch: Cool weather delays Kansas gardens

stevehallerSteve Haller, of Osage City, a K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener, plans to write a regular column for Osage County News during the growing season. The Garden Patch will feature gardening ideas and tips for gardeners in northeast Kansas. In his words: “I am not a horticulturist. By education I am an economist. By experience, I am a marketing guru from a local to an international scale. Gardening was taught to me by my grandfather and my Mom, and I’ve been doing it since World War II was going on.”

Well, hello and happy June to all of you!

It’s almost past time to think about putting in a garden for this spring and summer – but not quite. As cool as this spring has been almost anything can still be planted, just make certain it gets plenty of water and sun.

In our garden we have potatoes, sweet corn, onions (half have been harvested), tomatoes, carrots, beets, peas, peppers, beans (both pole and bush) and a few other odds and ends. Oh, did I mention peas? We have lottsa peas!

This year we’re going to plant birdhouse gourds in with the sweet corn to help deter ‘coons, and I have a local barber shop saving human hair for me to use for the same reason. Raccoons don’t like to be around things they might get tangled up in and human hair carries a scent that naturally repels them.

I forgot to mention lettuce in my garden list above – we’ve had two cuttings already! If you plant pole beans, plant your lettuce underneath them to give it shade and keep it cooler. You’ll harvest a lot longer, the beans don’t care and you’re using space that would otherwise be wasted.

What to use for poles for pole beans? I use bamboo that I grow – it can be reused for several years and works as an excellent support for the beans.

Don’t have any bamboo? You can grow it for next year and I might just give you some for this year. If you order some to plant, make certain it is hardy bamboo. A lot of the seed catalogs have it and some of the local nurseries may stock it. Give it a thought.

As some of you may already know, I’m a strong advocate of raised bed gardening. Granted, raised beds may have to be watered a little more frequently, but it doesn’t take much water and it all goes straight to the roots where it’s needed. The old saying is “grow the roots; the rest of the plant will take care of itself!”

Raised beds are a little more work the first year you have them, but the effort drops considerably from there on. Yours truly has nine raised beds and never has to plant one of his feet in any of them. All work can be done outside the bed and you don’t compact the soil with your feet. They are also quite attractive.

All but one of my raised beds are four feet by eight feet in size. The four-foot width is easy to plant, cultivate, water and harvest. All but one are constructed with landscape timbers, which will last for several years. Beware of heavily treated lumber as it may leach chemicals into the growing area and adversely affect your crops.

Rows in your raised beds are best planted across the garden (short way) as they are easier to care for. The exception to this might be sweet corn or potatoes. Rows can be much closer together and therefore more crop in less space … that did it, didn’t it? Now you’re ready to try it! Let me know if I can help. No, I won’t do the work, but I’ll give you all the advice you can handle.

Sweet corn planted? I thought mine was doing great until I drove by a garden today where it’s over a foot tall. Sometimes gardening is like fishing; the first liar doesn’t have a chance!

If anyone has an interest in the K-State Master Gardener program, let me know. There will be classes this fall – one day per week for about eight or nine weeks. Then you’ll have to put in so many hours per year (it’s not bad) to keep your status.

This year and next year I’m working with a group of students on growing gardens and selling the produce at a farmers market, and working with a group of senior citizens and others on a community garden. This is fun, interesting, challenging work and I enjoy every second of it! If you want to join me, let me know.

If you have questions I can help you with, please let me know. If I don’t have the answer I can get it from K-State.

‘Til next time!

Steve can be contacted at [email protected], or leave questions or comments below.

Hint: If anyone is looking for a fun read, look into Green Prints – The Weeder’s Digest. Contact them at GreenPrints, P.O. Box 1355, Fairview, NC 28730, call 800-569-0602 or go to www.greenprints.com. I enjoy this publication and you might enjoy it, also.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas