Harvey County

Category: Horticulture

Growing Vegetables in Cold Weather

 What do Broccoli, Cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes, Radish, peas and spinach have in common?  They can all be planted in cold temperatures!  It is spring! How cold can they go?

Certain vegetables can withstand cold spring temperatures as long as they have been toughened up by gradually exposing them to sunlight and outdoor temperatures. This “hardening off” process usually takes about a week.

Reducing watering and temperature is the key to toughening up transplants. If possible, move transplants outside for a portion of each day. Start by placing them in a shady, protected location and gradually move them into a more exposed, sunny location as the week progresses. Hardened off cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and onions can withstand temperatures near 20 F without being killed. Lettuce plants are not quite as tough but will be okay if exposed to temperatures in the mid 20s.

Don’t hesitate to put these plants out now if extreme cold is not forecast.

Organic Matter in your Lawn/Garden

“Where Buffalo Roam” is part of the history of the Kansas prairie.  It is also the title of one of the speaker topics at the Harvey County Home and Garden Show this Sunday at 1:00 pm.  Buffalo grass is my favorite lawn grass.  If you would like to learn how to have a buffalo grass lawn this would be a great program to attend.  Admission is free for kids 12 and under, while attendees 13 and over is just a dollar.

I am a believer in organic matter!  If you only do one thing to improve your lawn or garden areas you should work in organic matter.  Organic matter is a good way to improve garden soil as it improves a heavy soil by bettering tilth, aeration and how quickly the soil absorbs water.

However, organic matter added in the spring should be well decomposed and finely shredded/ground. Manures and compost should have a good earthy smell without a hint of ammonia. Add a 2-inch layer of organic matter to the surface of the soil and work the materials into the soil thoroughly. Be sure soils are dry enough to work before tilling as wet soils will produce clods.

To determine if a soil is too wet to work, grab a handful and squeeze. If water comes out, it is much too wet. Even if no water drips out, it still may not be dry enough to work. Push a finger into the soil you squeezed. If it crumbles, it is dry enough, but if your finger just leaves an indentation, more time is needed. Be sure to take your handfuls of soil from the depth you plan to work the soil because deeper soils may contain more moisture than the surface.

Potato Planting

There are two great events going on this time of year!  Potato planting time and the Harvey County Home and Garden Show!  The Show is March 10 and 11 this year at the Armory in Newton.

My favorite varieties of potato to plant are ‘Red Norland’ and ‘Yukon Gold’.  Each will produce the early “new potato” my family likes to eat with a roast at my house.  Also, these two can produce larger potatoes for baked or mashed.  But the real reason is they just taste great!

Traditionally, we use St. Patrick’s Day as a date to target for potato planting.

Actually, any time from mid- to late-March is fine for potato planting. Be sure to buy seed potatoes rather than using those bought for cooking. Seed potatoes are certified disease free and have plenty of starch to sprout as quickly as soil temperatures allow. Most seed potatoes can be cut into four pieces, though large potatoes may yield more, and small less. Each seed piece should be between 1.5 and 2 ounces. Seed pieces this size will have more than one eye.

Each pound of potatoes should yield 8 to10 seed pieces. Cut the seed 2 to 3 days before planting so freshly cut surfaces have a chance to suberize, or toughen, and form a protective coating.  Storing seed in a warm location during suberization will speed the process. Plant each seed piece about 1 to 2 inches deep and 8 to 12 inches apart in rows. Though it is important to plant potatoes in March, emergence is slow. It is often mid- to late-April before new plants poke their way through the soil. As the potatoes grow, pull soil up to the base of the plants. New potatoes are borne above the planted seed piece, and it is important to keep sunlight from hitting the new potatoes. Exposed potatoes will turn green and produce a poisonous substance called solanine. Keeping the potatoes covered will prevent this.

Home and Garden Speaker Schedule

The Harvey County Master Gardener volunteers have been working feverishly to prepare for the Harvey County Home and Garden Show!  The speaker schedule is set!  Plan to come and learn on March 10 and 11!

Harvey County Home and Garden Show Speaker Schedule 2018

Saturday, March 10

9:00 am  Fruit Tree Care
Ward Upham, Kansas State University
Director, Rapid Response Center

10:00 am Small Fruit for the Backyard
Ward Upham, Kansas State University
Director, Rapid Response Center

11:00 am Arachnophobia: All about Spiders
Dr. Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University
Professor & Extension Specialist/State Leader

12:00 Lunch –  Mi Mama’s Recipe’s!

1:00 pm Native Insect Host Plants and
Katie Schmidt, Dyck Arboretum
How Gardeners Can Save The World!
Grounds Manager/Horticulturist

2:00 pm Bug Off: How to Effectively Deal with
Dr. Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University
Insect & Mite Pests in Vegetable Gardens
Professor & Extension Specialist/State Leader

3:00 pm Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Dr. Charles Barden, Kansas State University                                             
Horticulture and Natural Resources                                                              Professor & Extension Specialist                                                                                   

4:00 pm Growing Blueberries in Kansas
Dr. Charles Barden, Kansas State University                                           
Horticulture and Natural  Resources                                                              Professor Extension Specialist              

Sunday, March 11
(Doors open at 12:00 Noon)

1:00 pm Where Buffalo Roam
Larry Crouse, Horticulture Agent

K-State Research and Extension, Butler Co.

2:00 pm Little Herbs on the Prairie
Kay Neff
, Neff Family Farms

3:00 pm Low Maintenance Landscaping
Scott Davies
, Brady Nursery

4:00 pm Native Plants for Shade
Katie Schmidt, Dyck Arboretum                                                                 
Grounds Manager/Horticulturist

Admission is only one dollar.  We have door prizes, kids events each day, outstanding vendors and awesome food available from Mi Mama’s! We still have room for more vendors. Contact Scott Eckert at 316-284-6930.


I was hoping for sure we would have a 12 inch snow on the ground to give us some much needed winter moisture!  Remember, plants use and lose moisture in the winter months too.  If you have not done any watering of your landscape plants it will sure do them some good.

Speaking of winter, now is a good time to remove dead foliage from ornamental grasses. Grasses green up earlier if foliage is removed and are more attractive without a mixture of dead and live leaves. A number of tools can be used including hand clippers, weed whips (if the foliage is of a small enough diameter), weed whips with a circular blade, or even a chain saw.

Use the top of the chainsaw bar to cut so the saw doesn’t pull in debris and clog. Also, it is often helpful to tie foliage together before cutting so it doesn’t interfere and is easier to dispose of. Burning is another option — but only if it is safe and legal to do so.

Note that these grasses may not burn long, but they burn extremely hot. Even so, the crown of the plant is not damaged and new growth appears relatively quickly.

If the center of the clump shows little growth, the plant would benefit from division. Dig up the entire clump and separate. Then replant the vigorous growth found on the outer edge of the clump.

The Show is Getting Close! 

The theme of this year’s Harvey County Home and Garden Show 2018 is “Gardening with Native Prairie Plants and Grasses”.  Mark your calendar for March 10 and 11 at the Armory in Newton!  This is the 14th year of the show planned and presented to you by K-State Research and Extension-Harvey County. Continue reading “The Show is Getting Close! “


Follow this blog