Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 14, December 8, 2018

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.

William Blake

What other choice do we really have?  The exception of course is South Texas where we are most fortunate to be able to have an abundant winter garden.  Is there no rest for the weary?  Putting the garden to sleep for the winter truly amounts to just a short cat nap.  catnap

Rather than hitting the snooze button, take the opportunity to tend to maintenance of compost, tools, irrigation and the like in preparation for the challenges of spring.

compost en routeCabbage leaves en route to the compost pile. 

Saturday morning the gardeners spent time carefully weeding the plots and walkways.

weeding PVC irrigation lines are a particularly favored place for unwelcome weeds such as purslane.  The following link is useful for identifying the multiple varieties of purslane in Texas.  Purslane is considered a weed but it is edible.  https://lubbock.tamu.edu/programs/disciplines/weeds/identifying-weeds/portulaca-oleracea-common-purslane/

There were some beauteous broccoli crowns ready for harvest:

broccoli.jpgThe abundant cilantro can be used to garnish a lovely green vegan soup prepared from broccoli, spinach, onion, garlic and broth.  A simple version can be found on the Bon Appetit website. https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/spinach-broccoli-soup-with-garlic-and-cilantro

The perimeter plots were thriving thanks to the mid-week work parties.  Special projects included tending the hops on the exterior fence:

hopsBrewtiful!

So back to the original point of this entry……… winter is an excellent time to fantasize/imagine/plan for the spring.  This could include planning and designing a garden at your home/redesigning your ‘big picture’ life in ways that make sense to no one but you……. or just taking a break.  With that all said – a garden is absolutely positively unequivocally an awesome part of the plan. You might want to plant a ‘decision tree’……however please be forewarned….they need to be weeded on a daily basis.

Best wishes,

Anne Marie S.

 

 

 

 

Cruiser Cilantro

Cilantro tastes like death. 

Julia Child

I must say I beg to differ.  However given the divisive nature of this herb it seemed apropos to honor the opinion of America’s most celebrated chef.  For more information on why cilantro is so unpleasant to part of the population read here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/dining/14curious.html

But!  For the (better) half of us who love cilantro…….. we are fortunate that the Cruiser Cilantro planted last year at the Children’s Vegetable Garden graciously reseeded itself to produce this vigorous bunch of plants with a foothold under the Balsamic Basil:

cruiser cilantro

Abundant advice on growing this variety is available at the following link:

https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/browse/featured-solutions/gardening-landscaping/cilantro/

One of my favorite ways to enjoy this herb is in a raw salsa.  I typically combine tomatillos, white onion, garlic, serrano chiles, advocado and lime juice with a large bunch of cilantro.  The amounts of each ingredient may vary depending on personal taste and what you have on hand.  The ingredients can either be hand chopped or chopped in a blender or a food processor.  The salsa is great on chips but is also delicious on grilled meats or stirred into rice.

Happy Gardening and Happy Eating!

Anne Marie S.

 

 

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 12, November 24, 2018

Gardening is not a rational act.

Margaret Atwood

I’m sure the Extension office would beg to differ with Ms. Atwood, however this has been a frustrating yet fun fall session.  In any event, pressing on against all odds is what separates the bona fide gardeners from the dilettantes (I think).

The snow peas were scampering up the trellises which had formerly supported the cucumbers:

snowpeasAny gardeners who were (un)fortunate enough to lose their cucumbers can relish enjoying snow peas in a quick stir fry later in the session. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016281-spicy-wok-charred-snow-peas

The “Snow Crown” cauliflower was holding it’s own but one of the plants in Section 8 appeared to have been invaded by an unidentified alien creature:

IMG_0742

Despite the casualties from the early freeze the Cheers cabbage were faring well.  Inspection of the heads indicated very little insect infestation.

cabbageMore information on growing “Cheers” cabbage can be found on the AgriLife website:  https://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/homehort/archives-of-weekly-articles-davids-plant-of-the-week/cheers-cabbage/

Besides the obvious choice of consuming cabbage raw (cole slaw) it is also delicious in a number of cooked dishes.  Although most folks associate cabbage with German cookery it is also a favorite in Italian cuisine – particularly in the home cooking of Northern Italy.  A favorite of mine is this rice and cabbage soup from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking:  https://food52.com/recipes/27213-marcella-hazan-s-rice-smothered-cabbage-soup.   I always begin by sautéing a large amount of green cabbage:

smothered cabbage

While your cabbage is braising there is ample time to stroll through your home garden and weed the paths.  It is also a perfect opportunity to gently wash all the beautiful lettuce harvested on Saturday morning:

IMG_0757

Dress simply with oil and vinegar for a salad and dinner is complete!

Happy Gardening and Eating!

Anne Marie S.

 

 

 

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 9, November 3, 2018

It does not matter if you are a rose or a lotus or a marigold.  What matters most is that you are flowering. 

Rajneesh

After all the heavy rains it was a fabulous fall day at the SABOT Children’s Garden! Taishan Orange Mari-mums planted in week three were in full bloom to greet the gardeners as the day commenced.  Careful deadheading insured the blooms will continue over the remainder of the session.IMG_0679

Fiskars scissors do the trick!

The kids were eager to remedy any damage caused by too much moisture or invasive insects.  Most notably, the tomato plants had suffered a minor invasion of pinworms:

pinworm

Tomato pinworm (aka Keiferia lycopersicella) https://texasinsects.tamu.edu/tomato-pinworm/

Junior Garden Volunteers Josh and Alexie took a break from compost shoveling for a quick photo op:

Josh and Alexie

The “AllStar Gourmet” Lettuce mix planted in Session 6 was popping up in rows of purple and green in every plot.lettuce 11-3 Lettuce spray……

Cruiser cilantro only required minor cultivating…….

cilantro 11-3

Follow the blog post for Cruiser Cilantro for a quick and delicious salsa recipe!

Happy Gardening and Cooking!

Anne Marie S

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 3, September 22, 2018

The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds.  If  you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte.

Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

 

Although week 2 of the CVGP was cancelled due to weather (RAIN ☔️) there was still botanical magic happening both at the children’s garden (many many thanks to John and the work party for planting the ‘Ruby Crush’ tomatoes Wednesday, September 19th) and elsewhere as evidenced by this very special phenomenon known as a Fairy Ring:

Fairy RingThis naturally occurring arc of mushrooms (known as a fairy ring) was spotted under a tree at Woodlawn Lake.

Fairy rings are a source of much myth and superstition regarding fairies, pixies and elves and appear in many folk stories, particularly in Western Europe.  Scientifically, the rings start when the mycelium (spawn) of a mushroom falls in a suitable spot and sends out an underground network of fine, tubular threads called hyphae.  They can thrive in either deep green grass or a necrotic zone (an area in which other plant life has died).

 

Unfortunately week 3 was the victim of further foul weather which forced another cancellation.

radar 9_22_18Radar kindly provided by the My Radar app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/myradar-weather-radar/id322439990?mt=8

Never to be daunted – another group of valiant volunteers returned on Thursday September 27th to follow through with the plantings scheduled for the 22nd.

work party 9_27-18The abundance of volunteers made quick work of planting the south side of the garden.

‘Taishan’ Orange Mari-mums https://aglifesciences.tamu.edu/blog/2013/08/30/mari-mums-chrysanthemum-color-lasting-two-or-three-times-longer/

‘Cheers’ Cabbage https://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/homehort/archives-of-weekly-articles-davids-plant-of-the-week/cheers-cabbage/

AND

‘Multipik’ Yellow Squash seeds www.johnnyseeds.com/vegetables/squash/summer-squash/multipik-f1-squash-seed-2968.html

were all planted according to the instructions in Agenda 3.  Planting of Bush Beans was delayed for the next regular session of the Children’s Vegetable Garden Program.

At the end of the work party the plots were left under the watchful eyes of two scarecrows at the North End.

scarecrowsMaster Gardener badges duly noted!

 

Happy Gardening!

Anne Marie S.

 

 

 

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 1, September 8th, 2018

Anyone who has time for drama is not gardening enough.

                                                                           -anonymous

Despite the rain the first session of the Fall 2018 Children’s Vegetable Garden took off without a hitch! The eagerness and enthusiasm were contagious in both the volunteers and families.  I was especially happy to return as a volunteer after spending the last few gardening seasons bringing my own garden up to snuff.

ams gardenMy cat Opie was pleased to reclaim his spot under the artichoke.

As usual the inaugural day began with a review of the agenda (and necessary modifications to accommodate the mud after the abundant rain).  The volunteers were dispatched to their sections just as the children started to pour through the gate.  Tools, fertilizer, water and plant material were all in place.

09_09_2018_pic1Tools at the ready in Section 1.

The plant material had been delivered prior to the start of the session.  David Rodriguez our County Extension Agent selected beautiful “Dwarf Cherry Suprise’ BHN968 tomato plants.  Pre-planting chores included weeding (purslane and pigweed were abundant in the paths after the rain) and fertilizing with 8 cups of Milbergers Organic Fertilizer throughout the each plot.  Soil from the hole was mixed with an additional 2 cups of fertilizer prior to planting the tomato.

BHN dwarf cherry tomato plantBefore the fall session started our dedicated work party crew had fortified the beds by dividing them into smaller plots that measure 6’10”.

After planting, the tomato was reinforced with a burm and watered in with one quarter of a gallon Hasta-Gro liquid soluble starter mix.

tomato burmSpecial attention is needed to avoid wetting the tomato leaves with fertilizer.

The second plant was a sturdy ‘Sweet Slice’ Cucumber.  Soil for this planting was mixed with one cup fertilizer.  After planting, the cucumber was also watered in with liquid fertilizer.

sweet slice with karenMaster Gardener Karen Gardner explains the finer points of directing a cucumber to the trellis.

After scrubbing up the tools and returning them to the shed the gardeners spent time chronicling the day in their journals.

journals with layla quirozJournals were generously donated by Master Gardener Layla Quiroz.

Although it was a relatively short day everyone left happy and hopeful for a new productive season in the garden.  Later in the session we have this bounty to look forward to taking home from our BHN968 tomatoes:

New-Dwarf-Cherry-Surprise-Tomato (1)Photo courtesy of AgriLife TODAY

One easy way to preserve an excess of tomatoes is to place cut halves on a cookie sheet/sprinkle them with olive oil, salt and pepper/bake them in a 200 degree oven until they look gelatinous and finally freeze them with just enough additional olive oil to cover the surface.  In this manner they can be stored for several months and are excellent on pasta or pizza.

Happy Gardening!

   Anne Marie S.