Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 1, September 7, 2019

Hi Friends!

Well, our fall garden is underway, and lemme tell you – it’s HOT. We’re looking forward to cooler weather hopefully very soon, but for now, we sweat!

Time for tomatoes!! Tomatoes are a great fall plant – they do well here in South Central Texas during the fall. This week we planted BHN 968 Tomatoes (AKA “Dwarf Cherry Surprise” and Valley Cat Tomatoes.

First off, let’s make sure we have what we need:

  • It’s important to make sure that each tomato has a nice, sturdy cage (see demo pic above)
  • It’s also important to fertilize the soil before you plant with granular fertilizer. One cup in the center of each tomato cage.

Once you have all the prep done, dig a wide and deep planting hole in the middle of the tomato cage. Fill the pre-dug hole with water a few time, and carefully remove the tomato from it’s container. The plant’s root system should be even with the soil grade or slightly higher. Backfill the hole but take care to not get any soil on the leaves – especially the lower leaves. Once you fill the hole and make sure none of the roots are visible, pinch off any leaves that are touching the ground. Make a water ring around the plant (see pic above) and water it thoroughly twice or so to help the soil settle in. Easy peasy!

 

Once your newly planted tomatoes are in, make sure to fertilize AGAIN with liquid Hasta-Gro – 1oz of liquid Hasta-Gro to one gallon of water. One thing you should remember though: make sure you’re watering your plants during the week too. We have a dedicated group of amazing volunteers that come out to the garden during the week to water. The best way to figure out if you need to water? Put your finger in the soil around the plant. If the soil feels dry, then you should water. This heat will eat up your plant if you let it.

That’s all we planted in the garden this week! Make sure you check back next week for more awesome Fall South Texas planting directions!!

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Fall 2019 Orientation, August 17, 2019

The best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow.

-Anonymous

Many thanks to all the long shadows of the Bexar County Master Gardeners who maintained the garden over the hottest part of the summer!  Upon arrival at 7:00 am Saturday morning for a final inspection prior to commencement of the fall session, the volunteers found the garden beds were weed-free, topped off with soil and tidy as a pin.

fall 2019 cvg bedsIrrigation lines were running free and clear.

Garden plots on the south side still flourished with an abundance of peppers and eggplant.

late peppers and eggplntTexas AgriLife has numerous links to information on pepper horticulture.

Besides peppers and eggplant, one of the few vegetables that thrives in the South Texas summer heat is okra.  A spectacular stand of Oscar okra was growing in the research plot.

okraOkra is especially delicious in gumbo

After a thorough cleaning of the Sunday house the volunteers regrouped for Orientation for the Fall 2019 session of the CVG.  County Extension Agent David Rodriguez was on hand to welcome the volunteers.  One of the oldest youth gardening programs in the nation, the Children’s Vegetable Garden Program is proudly hosted by the San Antonio Botanical Garden (SABOT).    As of Saturday morning, registration was still open for a few remaining plots.  More information regarding the details the program can be found on the SABOT website. The program will run Saturdays from September 7, 2019 through December 14th, 2019.

That only leaves a few more weeks for my garden at home to be revived after a rough summer.

Stay tuned,

Anne Marie S.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 15 and Week 16, June 15, 2019

If a garden require it, now trench it ye may,
one trench not a yard, from another go lay;
Which being well filled with muck by and by,
to cover with mould, for a season to lie.
           

-Thomas Tusser, 1557

The task for the last two sessions of the garden season required some demanding but essential work. Although there is a certain amount of regret when it’s time to “put the garden to sleep” for the summer, knowing that the next season will reap the rewards of these efforts is a silver lining on the last days of the session.

Even our ancestors understood COMPOST HAPPENS but properly managed compost demands some physical exertion:

compost paradeVolunteers and parents trundled loads of plant material to perpetuate the compost pile.

Composting reduces the amount of waste in the city landfills but even more benefits are derived from a well tended compost pile.  When used as a soil amendment, finished compost (or humus) enhances soil structure and improves the soil’s capacity to hold water.

 An abundance of produce was still to be found before relinquishing the last of the vegetable plants:

rootballGrande Jalapenos were thoroughly harvested.  A few of the plants were left for the SABOT summer camps as well as banana peppers, eggplant and tomatillos.  Sweet and hot pepper  varieties thrive equally well over the hot south Texas summers.

As usual, the purple martins were on hand to keep a vigilant eye on the young gardeners:

purple martins 2Mid-January through early February is the typical arrival time for purple martins in south Texas.

One weary gardener took a well-deserved break on the sidelines:

weary gardenerClearing the paths of weeds, particularly palm seedlings was a top priority.  This link is useful for identification of other pernicious garden weeds.

Evidence of a promising fall session was already in place with the appearance of newly constructed gardening beds and containers:

veg trugThis handsome vegetable trug is a perfect container for tender lettuces.
veg bedsNew raised beds with an undisclosed purpose sprouted in front of the Sunday House.

The day finally wrapped up without a hitch.  Many eager families were ready to re-enroll for the upcoming fall session.  Anyone interested can register via SABOT (San Antonio Botanical Garden).

Many more adventures await us in the garden…….

Until the fall,

Anne Marie S.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 14, June 1, 2019

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”               

– Doug Larson

Well, hmmmm, I guess so.  However the vegetable line up for the Children’s Vegetable Garden Program Contest and Picnic was ample and appealing without the fat:

ample veggiesNever eat anything bigger than your head………

Prior to contest submission vegetable entries were gently washed to remove any soil:

washing veggiesBasic tips on the importance of washing fresh produce can be found on Dinner Tonight.

Gardeners carefully evaluated each entry for uniformity in size, shape and color:

Evaluating eggplant Ichiban eggplant passed inspection for contest entry and later destinations in the culinary arena.

 

uniform veggiesJudging criteria required yellow squash and zucchini to be crisp, firm and free of damage, 1.5-2 inches in diameter and 5-6 inches long.

After critically selecting the prime specimens for submission, vegetables were neatly displayed in trays for review by the Quality Control Team:

veg sub 2An entry card was completed for each category of vegetable submitted.  

Seasoned Bexar County Master Gardeners were on hand to serve as Quality Control for approval of each entry:

veggie QCEntries were submitted no later than 10:20 am at the QC table in front of the Sunday House.

After judging all entries, County Extension Agent David Rodriguez was on hand to award ribbons to the winners:

dhr ribbon awarding

A fulfilling day was rewarded with the excellent culinary efforts of the hot dog team on the South End:

hot dog teamPropane included……

Many thanks to the efforts of all the volunteers, parents and patient, lavishly tended vegetables……

 

 

 

 Eat healthy, stay tuned,

Anne Marie S.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 13, May 25, 2019

The kitchen garden satisfies both requirements, a thing of beauty and a joy for dinner.”                

-Peter Mayle:  Encore Provence:

  New Adventures in the South of France

Although not a thing of beauty or a joy for dinner, insect control was still high on the list the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend:

insect controlVolunteer on insect patrol with a pan of soapy water….

Prevailing east winds did not deter the harvest:

East winds 5_25

In spite of tomato pinworms:

tomato pinwormsThe pinworm problem was previously addressed in a post from Fall 2018……..

Tomatoes in the research beds promised any number of delicious dinners for those lucky enough to sample the fruits of the weekday work party’s labor:

research tomatoes 5_25_19jpgRoasted tomatoes, frozen in olive oil, are a mighty asset when the wolf is at the door…..

The small fry found reprieve from labor in the southside asparagus patch:

asparagus reprieveTruck not included……

And west side zinnas:

zinnias

Last but not least, the yellow crookneck squash had reached a size that could not longer be ignored:

homely squashBlossoms of the errant fruit are amazing stuffed with goat cheese, battered and fried…..

 

Research ways to utilize different parts of plants in your home kitchen ………………

 

Happy Harvesting,

Anne Marie S.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 12, May 18th, 2019

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Afternoon on a Hill”

Carpet Mix Petunias are not the ideal flower for a bouquet but they did benefit from deadheading on Saturday:

petunias2For information on other (purple – my favorite color) varieties of petunias please visit this AgriLife website Petunias

Vegetables ready for harvest were in abundance.  Tomatoes, zucchini, squash, Provider green beans and cucumbers were all eager for a visit to the kitchen:

provider beans         bean harvest
In a casserole, blanched, roasted, sautéed or pickled, green beans can’t be beat for their nutritional  power punch. 

Tomatillos looked promising for a future batch of salsa verde:

tomatillos_2Native to Mexico and Guatemala, tomatillos are also known as Cape Gooseberries.  

Natchez blackberries were just beginning to ripen from green to red to deep purple:

Natchez blackberry Besides their natural place in a cobbler, blackberries are also a welcome addition to savory dishes such as a sauce for grilled meats or alongside a platter of cheese.  

Gardeners were careful to supplement the PVC plot irrigation with thorough hand watering:

hand wateringWhopper bronze leaf begonias planted in week 5 were vivid in the foregroud.

Find joy in small things 🙂

 

Best wishes,

Anne Marie S.