Hello, again!

Piet and I were sure to practice social distancing last week when he made his stop at the garden center on his sales call. Piet is more than a supplier of Dutch flowering bulbs to us; he’s one of our best family friends. I’ve ridden bikes with Piet in the Netherlands, spectated the Tour de France with him, and we also visited Scheveningen beach in Holland together. That was a site to remember!

Last fall on his stop through Wichita, we made our way to the Monarch for lunch. The Monarch's patio in Delano on a fall day is a frequent stop for me for lunch and a beverage. Jennifer Ray, the owner, avid gardener and friend had taken my suggestion and was going to let us plant spring flowering bulbs and winter hardy pansies in the dozen planters on the patio. Piet suggested we use Darwin hybrid tulips along with the pansies. I went with a red and yellow theme, which is always a good color blend. Fast forward: the planters are spectacular this week! Get out for a stroll and go by the round-a-bout to see the amazing color on the patio. Next year I’m hoping Jennifer will let us go with black and gold, a Shocker color theme to bloom during the NCAA basketball tournament.

Hopefully the Monarch will be open again soon. When they are, I’m going down for one of my favorite offerings, the Sausage and Cheese Tray or the Tomato Bisque Soup. I asked Jennifer what her secret was on these menu items, but she wouldn’t share her recipe for the bisque. She did, however share that I could get a smoker at All Things BBQ to smoke my own cheese for my charcuterie board. I'm in!

Piet and I made our way down to The PourHouse in Old Town, where we ordered at the window for carry out. Piet, as he typically does, ordered a hamburger plain. Nothing on it. I ordered my favorite, their Jal-A-Peño-Face Burger. Not only is this burger stuffed with jalapeños and habaneros, but it's also topped with ghost pepper jack cheese and a mango habanero sauce. The sauce is a combination of BBQ and sautéed habanero. I've tried to duplicate it at home, and can only come close!

We’re all finding ourselves changing the way we do things in our lives these days. One thing I have always enjoyed is grilling outside. A couple of things I have done for years is to grow a few vegetables in containers on the patio. With that and Marty’s Acre across the street, I always have an abundance of fresh vegetables. There is something about grilling a burger and harvesting a fresh jalapeño pepper and tomato grown a few feet away.Tomatoes sliced from the patio are the final topping on the patty. Container gardens are not only a culinary convenience, but are attractive as well.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when growing food on the patio. First of all have a container with drainage holes that is at least 5 gallons in size -about one foot across. Next, I’ll use a well-drained potting media such as ferti-lome Ultimate Potting Mix. The mix holds moisture well but will not become saturated and drown the plant. A starter fertilizer such as ferti-lome Blooming and Rooting will get the plants established in containers or the garden.You could also give Fox Farm Tiger Bloom a try! Tiger Bloom is designed to encourage abundant fruit, flower, and multiple bud development. Use Tiger Bloom at transplanting time through harvest.

We continue to keep in stock what you are looking for to grow your own food at home. Watch Johnson’s Garden Time this Saturday and Sunday mornings at 7:55; we’ll cover the basics on growing food items in containers. You can even watch past episodes on our YouTube Channel.

Your friend in the garden,
Marty Johnson Owner - Johnson's Garden Center