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

Hi Friends!

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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!

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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:

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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.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 9, April 27th, 2019

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.                                                    

Greek Proverb

Although shade would have been most welcome the cowpen daisies in the perimeter beds were happy to have plenty of sunshine and a long drink of water from the volunteers on Saturday, April 27th:

cowpen daisiesMore information on Cowpen Daisies can be found on Garden Style San Antonio as well as Indian Blanket and Mystic Spire Salvia.  

Fiesta streamers from last week added a another bright note of color among the verdant vegetables:

Fiesta streamersErrant tomato branches were gently tucked back into their cages. 

While Master Gardener Jennifer Sierra taught the Junior Master Gardener class a recipe for Cheesy Broccoli and Ranch Smashed Potatoes, gardeners in the plots proactively patrolled the broccoli plants to destroy cucumber beetles and cabbage loopers:

broccoli inspectionInsects infesting the Green Magic Broccoli were destroyed by smashing them or throwing them in soapy water.  

Pepper, eggplant and tomatillo plants were all fertilized with 1/2 c each of organic granulated fertilzer:

fertilizing eggplantFertilizer was carefully applied 4 inches from the base of each plant.

The research plot with U-157 asparagus was thriving on the south end of the garden along with the the Louisiana bunching shallots:

U-157 asparagusWoody ends of asparagus are an excellent base for soup.
Other daily chores included treating fire ant mounds and reseeding beans, squash and zucchini.  Tree saplings which were not destined for maturity were dug out from the blackberries.  Most important and never at the end of the list was weeding, watering and more fertilizing:
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A happy garden is a well-tended garden!

 

Best wishes,

Anne Marie S.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 8, April 20, 2019

Hello all! Another great week at the Children’s Vegetable Garden! We had a ton of chores to do today!

To start things off, we all had a garden and section chore list:

First, we checked to see if we still had broccoli, tomatillos and a few other plants that need to be “dirted-up” to straighten up their plants.

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We spent some time today in and around our plot/section looking for and destroying all cucumber beetles and cabbage loopers on the backside of our broccoli plants by smashing them and or throwing them in a small bucket with soapy water.

Tomato cages were straightened and attached correctly and we cut off any stems/leaves that might be touching the soil.

Without breaking any branches, gently tuck your tomato stems into their cage that have snuck out. If the stems can’t be put back, then start tying them with cut HEB bags to their cage.

Apply one cup of Medina Organic fertilizer on the outskirts of each of the two tomato cages and lightly scratch it in.

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Finish properly caging all your pepper, eggplant and tomatillo transplants. Use the older cages that are in front of S6 and S7.

Finally, we watered by hand any plant that is not receiving adequate irrigation from its system such as the petunias.

 

On to our section chores!!!

 

Section 1 watered the beds down the middle of the garden and the beds near the Sunday House, while Section 2 watered and weeded inside and outside all of the beds between the large mesquite tree and fig tree and pulled few of the Louisiana shallots to share with folks in the garden.

 

 

Section 6  weeded in and around the blackberry beds and underneath the green shade cloth area with benches.

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Section 8 turned on the irrigation in the example plot  as well as the two beds across the section with bluebonnets and poppies

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Check list before we left:

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Please, don’t return any dirty tools or water cans to the tool shed.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep that area swept and clean.

Are you completely finished?  Has your instructor or mentor walked your plot and section?

□Is your plot free of weeds, trash and rocks?

□Are all your plants watered?

□Are your tools clean and stored neatly in the tool shed?

□Don’t forget to sign out?

□Please roll up all hoses nice and straight after usage.

 

 

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Homework Assignment:  Have a Blessed Easter!

 

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 7, April 13, 2019

What is a weed?  A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.                                                   

Thomas Jefferson

A delightful display of dill greeted gardeners as they arrived on Saturday, April 13th:

dillBesides adding a bright flavor to almost any dish, dill is one of the favorite host plants of butterflies.  

The proliferation of pansies in front of the Sunday House were not to be deterred by another gray Saturday:

pansiesHistory buffs might be interested to know the viola is the ancestor of the pansy.  For those of a less serious nature……. What do you get when you cross a monkey with a flower?…….A CHIMP-PANSY!

One of the first activities of the day was decorating the unveiled tomato cages with Fiesta streamers.  Besides adding a festive note to the garden the streamers serve to deter birds from the ripening fruit:

fiestaAfter decorating the cages the tomato plants were fertilized with one cup Medina Organic fertilizer as well as a half gallon liquid Hasta-Gro fertilizer.  Last but not least each plant was drenched with Spinosad.

Unfortunately the photo op for the Colorado Potato Beetle went somewhat awry.  Nevertheless there were a multitude of the pests to hand-pick from the potato plants:

potato beetleMore information and closeup photos of Leptinotarsa decemlineata can be found online.

New planting for the day was limited to banana peppers:

planting peppersBesides being a colorful addition to almost any summer vegetable dish banana peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin C.
In almost every plot the ‘Provider’ Bush Beans were healthy and happy:
Provider beansFor more information on growing high yielding beans please refer to this article by Dr. Joe Masabni regarding Bean: Green/Snap

The daily bug hunt turned up a rather unappealing unidentified brown worm:

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A quick search through the bug book in Section 1 failed to identify this critter.

And of course no day at the garden is complete without the Junior Master Gardener activity.  Ms. Carol White was on hand to present “Water, A Natural Resource”:

Carol

Over the next few weeks think about ways to conserve water in your home………………

 

Best wishes,

Anne Marie S.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 6, April 6, 2019

                                                                                                                 

Another glorious day at the Children’s Vegetable Garden!

mystic salvia Mystic Spires Blue Salvia along the outside path at the Children’s Vegetable Garden Program. 

Despite predictions for heavy rains only gray skies prevailed.  Gardeners gingerly unwrapped their tomatoes for a status check.

unwrapping tomatoesTexas tomato cages  protected the branches from weather damage.

The tomato plants were carefully cultivated and fertilizer was gently scratched in at the base of each plant:

tomato feedingOne cup of organic granulated fertilizer per plant.

Tender transplants of tomatillos, jalapenos and Ichiban eggplant were ready for each plot:

tomatillos Tomatillos make an excellent salsa either raw or cooked.
jalapenos
Almost any food is enhanced by the addition of jalapenos…….

 

Ichiban                Although small in stature Ichiban eggplant can be used in any of your favorite recipes…..

Elsewhere in the garden volunteers tended to irrigation maintenance with patience and paperclips.  The research plots were newly planted with a diverse assortment of tomatoes.  The varieties included Dixie Red, Camaro, Summer Pik, Mountain Glory, and Tribute among others.

irrigation maintenancePlugged  PVC lines were unclogged by hand one hole at a time.

Near the south end the Natchez Blackberry bramble received some tlc:

blackberryThis thornless Texas Superstar makes an awesome blackberry cobbler.

 

Spend some time during the rainy season planning ahead for your fall garden……..

 

Best wishes,

Anne Marie S.