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:
Volunteers 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:
Grande 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:
Mid-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:
Clearing 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:
This handsome vegetable trug is a perfect container for tender lettuces.
New 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.
“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:
Never eat anything bigger than your head………
Prior to contest submission vegetable entries were gently washed to remove any soil:
Basic 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:
Ichiban eggplant passed inspection for contest entry and later destinations in the culinary arena.
Judging 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:
An 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:
Entries 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:
A fulfilling day was rewarded with the excellent culinary efforts of the hot dog team on the South End:
Many thanks to the efforts of all the volunteers, parents and patient, lavishly tended vegetables……
Eat healthy, stay tuned,
Anne Marie S.
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:
Volunteer on insect patrol with a pan of soapy water….
Prevailing east winds did not deter the harvest:
In spite of tomato pinworms:
The 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:
Roasted 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:
Truck not included……
And west side zinnas:
Last but not least, the yellow crookneck squash had reached a size that could not longer be ignored:
Blossoms 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 ………………
Anne Marie S.
Come join us this weekend for the Top Tomato Contest!
Bexar County Master Gardeners “Top Tomato Contest” Saturday, June 15, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at Fanick’s Garden Center. Open to Texas residents of all ages. (But no commerical growers please.) Prizes and Give-aways. Come Join the FUN! For contest rules & information visit https://www.bexarmg.org/
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:
For 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:
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:
Native 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:
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:
Whopper bronze leaf begonias planted in week 5 were vivid in the foregroud.
Find joy in small things 🙂
Anne Marie S.
I was so impressed with the veggie growth between last week and today! All this rain has really helped the veggies flourish – almost a little too much. Some of our veggies (I’m looking at you, zucchini) grew to be WAY TOO BIG. Although the size of the zucchini is impressive, the point is to grow food that tastes good! Overgrown veggies can taste fairly bitter – the younger the fruit the better it tastes. Also, overgrown fruit puts unneeded stress on your plants and slows down future fruit production. It also puts your plants at risk for unwanted insects and disease. The takeaway here is to harvest before your veggies get HUGE. Take a look:
Almost the same size as her!
Harvest when the zucchini looks like pic #1, not #2 or #3!
On the agenda for today was to harvest what we can – and lemme tell you, the harvests were pretty impressive!
Our young gardeners took home some delicious looking broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, edible flowers and a few lucky ducks took home some cherry tomatoes.
We also took care to weed our plots and look very closely for bad bugs. Although they can be hard to spot, it’s important to make sure that you can find as many as possible. A good starting place to search for bad bugs is to look for holes in your leaves that look like this – cabbage looper damage:
A plant like the one above should be inspected thoroughly for loopers, yellow leaves should be pulled, harvested once the broccoli reaches 4-6 inches in diameter, and then the entire plant should be placed in a sealed trash bag – NOT the compost pile. There are simply too many bugs on a plant like this for the compost pile.
Finally, we each walked through our plots to make sure that we deadheaded any flowers that had already bloomed, we tucked any wayward branches back into their growing cages and removed any yellow leaves from our plants.
That’s all for this week, friends. Take a look at our flowering beds next to our garden plots, a ripe blackberry and a beauty of a squash blossom. And remember to check back next week to see what goodies we brought home!
Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?
– Garth Nix, Sabriel
Regardless of thoughts on paths and walkers the paths still required attentive weeding:
The insides of plots and surrounding walkways were cleared of weeds, rocks and debris by pulling and grubbing.
Yellow leaves were removed from Green Magic broccoli and the backsides of the leaves were carefully inspected for caterpillars and harlequin bugs:
Signs of the harlequin bug are white blotches (stippling) on plants where the bug has been feeding.
Peppers, eggplant and tomatillos were standing straight and tall inside their cages:
After thoroughly watering the plots the plants were misted with Bug-Out II (not to be confused with the firearm of the same name). More information on DIY pest control can be found on this Agrilife link.
The Harris-Moran 8849 Rodeo Tomatoes and Ruby Crush tomatoes planted in weeks 2 and 3 were growing into the second tier of the tomato cages:
Although somewhat icky, immature stinkbugs and caterpillars were destroyed manually.
Cucumber beetles were removed and destroyed from squash, zucchini and cucumber plants. This included tapping the insects out from the flowers and smashing them:
All squash and zucchini fruit that were ready were harvested. Overgrown fruit will put unneeded stress on plants and slow them down on future fruit production.
Squash and zucchini plants on the South side of the garden got a “thumbs up” from these brothers:
A self-awarded Fiesta medal for “best-in show” always assists in productivity.
Squash blossoms inspected in section one were populated with bees. The bees were left unhindered for pollination of other fruiting plants:
Please see this bee keeping link for more information on bee keeping in Texas.
Happy Insect and Veggie Hunting…………..
Anne Marie S.