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.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 11, May 11, 2019

Hi Friends!

IMG_6373

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:

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!

IMG_6387

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:

IMG_6378

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!

Later y’all!

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 10, May 4, 2019

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:

walk n weedThe 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:

broccoli 5_4_19Signs 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:

peppers et alAfter 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:

tomatoes week 10Although 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:

cuke beetles 
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:

thumbs upA 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:

squash bees
Please see this bee keeping link for more information on bee keeping in Texas. 

 

Happy Insect and Veggie Hunting…………..

 

Best wishes,

Anne Marie S.