Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 11, November 16, 2019

Hi Friends!


Today is my favorite day of the season…the vegetable contest! Each season our young gardeners and their families participate in the contest by harvesting their finest (and silliest!) vegetables currently growing in their plot. The gardeners then clean and arrange their picks on a tray to present to the Quality Control Team. The purpose of this team is to help make sure the submissions meet the criteria set forth in the contest rules:

Contest Rules

1. Vegetables entries must be harvested directly from the child’s garden plot.
2. Entries must be free from diseases, insects, and soil. So, harvest everything that is ready.
3. Each contestant is allowed to submit only one entry per vegetable category and one with a flower focus.
4. The maximum number of vegetable category entries per child is four.
5. Every vegetable entry must be accompanied by a completed entry form (both top and bottom).
6. Entries must have the exact number of vegetables required for each category submitted.

Check out the criteria for each vegetable category:

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 Once each family has entered their chosen vegetables, the judging begins!

After 45ish minutes of judging, the results are revealed at the potluck picnic – which was attended by all families, volunteers and garden leaders! Take a look at the food line!

Each veggie category gets a winner, and then an overall winner is announced. This young lady, a third generation gardener, won the contest overall with her broccoli!

Take a look at some of the other entries!

That’s all for this week friends – Be sure to check back next week to see what we’re up to in the garden!

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 8, October 26, 2019

Hi Friends!

It’s the spookiest time of year in the Children’s Vegetable Garden! Today was a beautiful (and CHILLY day) in the garden. One of the most popular JMG presentations was scheduled for today – keeping honeybees with James Bills! Take a look at some pictures from the presentation:

Our garden is looking amazing – these young gardeners have done an excellent job in seeding, transplanting, feeding and generally nurturing their plots. Take a look at our families in action…


We’ve got a lot of very important tasks for our young gardeners to take care of today:

  • Snapdragons: Hand water and fertilize all four of the plants with one cup of granular fertilizer.

  • Broccoli/Kale/Cabbage/Cauliflower: Fertilize each of these plants with one cup of granular fertilizer. Pour the fertilizer in a circle around the stem. Pay attention where the outermost leaves of each plant are in relation to the stem – pour the fertilizer directly under the outermost leaves, without actually getting fertilizer on the leaves. We do this so that we are feeding the spot where the roots are growing, not feeding the roots at the stem. CHECK FOR BAD BUGS – caterpillars etc. Remove them with the help and direction of your garden leaders. Take a look: Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 10.52.11 AM
  • Beans: Snip/pinch off discolored leaves, it’s time to tie up the beans like a little garden corral. Hand water your beans and be careful not to knock over any of your beans stems!!
  • Beets: Hand water your beets, be very careful not to knock over any sprouts. This is the last week to reseed any beets!
  • Chinese Cabbage: One thing we need to make sure is to not let these plants get overgrown! Each week we need to cut the bottom leaves off. Hand water this area as well, and smash any flea beetles you see – check one out below:Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 5.11.02 PM
  • Cilantro: This is the last week to reseed!
  • Tomatoes: Fertilize each tomato plant with one cup of granular fertilizer – pour in a circle around plant out to where the leaves of the plant extend. Tie down any limbs with fruit – they’ll get heavy and can possibly break the limb.
  • Cucumber: Check your plants for fruit that is ready for harvest. Check out this goofball cucumber this week:IMG_8640 2
  • Radish: This is the last week to reseed – also check to make sure there is no root coming out of the soil. If so, please gently cover it up.
  • Yellow Squash: Pinch/snip off any brown or dead leaves. Also harvest any fruit ready for harvest. Hand water this area. Here is one growing fast! IMG_8634
  • Carrots: This is the last week to reseed!

We also took some time to have the kids release ladybugs in the plots. Gardeners love ladybugs, and not just because they’re adorable. It’s because ladybugs eat aphids!

That’s all for this week y’all. Be sure to check back next week to see what’s growing in our garden!

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Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 5, October 5, 2019

Hello Friends!

We’re still struggling with the heat wave over here, but we can see the end! Any day now we’ll get cooler weather – we hope! 😉 This week we’re still meeting a bit early than the usual start time to stay as cool as possible.  IMG_4696

We had a busy workday today! Today was the last day to replace many of the plants if they didn’t take or thrive – snapdragons, kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower – and reseed the area with yellow squash or green beans if needed.

Another thing to remember is that we need to be on the lookout for BAD BUGS. One way to keep the bugs in check is to keep your eyes open for any evidence of cucumber beetles or any caterpillar damage. This could appear as holes in the leaves of your plants. Gently lift up the leaves of your plants – do you see anything on the backside? Carefully brush off the backside of the leaves – this will help control the hatching and feeding of any caterpillars. Take a look at what that could look like:


This may look like dirt, but it’s probably aphids. Our awesome volunteers will be treating the plants with liquid spinosad.

Today our main goal is to get our cilantro and radish seeds measured and planted properly – we are seeding twenty cilantro seeds with 10 seeds each in 2 different areas as well as direct seeding ten radish seeds.

Pro tip – Don’t forget to tag your plants first!!

Cilantro Seeds: Plant seeds a minimum of six inches away from any other plants AND
six inches away from the edge of your beds. Water the area well before planting and gently push the seed barely below the soil surface. Boom, you’re done.


Plant seeds six to eight inches away from the base boards of the plot and plant ten radish seeds just below the soil surface every two or three inches apart. Make sure the area is weed free and loosened up and leveled before sowing the seeds.

That’s it! That’s all you have to do to plant seeds. Easy peasy, my friends.

Another fun thing about the CVG is that you get to harvest what you’ve grown! All your hard work pays off in the end. Check out this young gardener and his awesome cucumber. Well done.

That’s all for today friends, remember to check back next week for more pictures and planting instructions!

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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) Week 11, May 11, 2019

Hi Friends!


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!


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!

Later y’all!

Children’s Vegetable Garden (CVGP) Week 15 – December 15, 2018

Hi Friends! 

Can you believe this is our last workday of the season? What an interesting season it’s been, weather-wise. First all the rain and then the unprecedented freeze?! It really gives you a new appreciation for those who work in agricultural businesses that are weather dependent – farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, nurseries, ag researchers, etc.

So today’s workday was all about harvesting and putting the beds to sleep for the winter. The inconsistent nature of the weather at the beginning of the season created a less predictable harvest for our garden – in the end, we were all able to harvest lettuce, cole crops, radishes, cilantro and carrots – some of us enjoyed cucumbers at the beginning of the season. Take a look:

After we harvested all the goodies we grew, we focused on leveling the soil in the beds, and assisting to re-mulch the walkways.

That’s a wrap on the season!

BIG THANKS to all who participated and to all the invaluable volunteers who arrived early each Saturday morning to help ensure the success of our Children’s Vegetable Garden Program!

Interested in joining us this spring? Take a second to learn about and register for the Spring Children’s Vegetable Garden –

Children’s Vegetable Garden: Week 13, December 1, 2018

Hi Friends!

This weekend in the garden was a gorgeous one! The weather was AMAZING and felt more like spring than winter. Of course colder weather is on the way, so we all took the time to bask in the brief warmth (talk to us in summer, though, and we’ll most likely curse the heat).

The seasonal vegetable show was cancelled because of the absolutely crazy weather we’ve had this fall. First it was way too hot, then there was too much rain, followed by a freeze like we haven’t seen in 100+years…it was a tough one for Central Texas gardeners and farmers. So, in light of the cancellation, we simply tended to our surviving plants and enjoyed a small picnic and recognition ceremony.

Some of the broccoli might be ready to harvest by next weekend, and it’s entirely possibly some of the cabbage too!

One thing we were sure to do was to tie up the cabbage to prevent the head from turning yellow. First we looked for any bad bugs, and then we used rubber bands to wrap the leaves around the head so it doesn’t see the sun. Take a look:

One last chore we made sure to complete was weeding. Man, we tried to get out of weeding bc it looked like our beds were clean from weeds, but once we kneeled down to really look they were there! So keep your eyes peeled – you don’t want any weeds stealing nutrients from your beloved veggies.

Despite all this fall/winter has thrown at us, some of the plants just refuse to quit. Take a look at our carrots, lettuce and cilantro. That patch of lettuce has already been harvested twice and it’s still producing gorgeous leaves.

We also planted peas the weekend that our awesome volunteers realized that our cucumbers were toast for the season. Some of them have done pretty well, we’ll see this weekend if there are any to harvest:


Take a look at some of the activities we enjoyed:

We ate some good food and planted some baby plants (poppies pictured!) – what more could you ask for?

That’s all for now, friends! Remember to check back next week to see the last few weeks of our garden’s harvest!

Children’s Vegetable Garden: Week 11, November 17, 2018

Hi Friends!

Well, we ended up having a SERIOUS FREEZE this past week. I don’t think anyone expected this past week’s freeze to be as bad as it was, but here we are. SO, unfortunate as it is, our plots all took a huge hit. Take a look:

All in all, we all lost our squash, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and many if not all of the marigolds.

We ended up removing all the dead plants from our plots. We cut the tomatoes right at the soil line and to let the stem & roots dry out before we pull them. As we removed the tomato plants, many people had to clean up an even bigger mess as the post-freeze cherry tomatoes fell from the vine.

There is some good news though – many of the plants survived!

Our cold loving cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower & broccoli), carrots, radishes, cilantro and lettuce all survived the freeze. WHEW!

Many of us were even able to harvest some really pretty radishes:

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The weather was even warm enough for some of our volunteers to plant some really healthy looking spinach, which almost makes up for the losses we took. (KIDDING! … but not really)

Finally, one of my personal favorite JMG presentations, we had the pleasure of hearing from a family of young 4-H members who raise turkeys! Hearing them explain the food, water, shelter, temperature and time commitment needs that are all required in raising healthy turkeys was really interesting. PLUS THEY BROUGHT BABY TURKEYS, which is basically a slow pitch down the middle for our young gardeners.

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That’s all for this week, friends. Be sure to check back in next week to see how our post freeze garden is faring!

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Children’s Vegetable Garden Program: Week 10, November 10, 2018

Hi Friends!

This weekend was COLD COLD COLD. But our plants were still super happy! Check out our marigolds, which are always so beautiful this time of year. Although it’s really hard to do, the best thing you can do for your marigolds is to dead head them (pinch off the blooms) each week to encourage blooming and new growth all season long. I am acknowledging how hard this is for me to, but it truly makes a big difference.

This week’s agenda did not include any new planting, unless you needed to reseed any of your cilantro, carrots, leaf lettuce or radishes. Ours were looking good (although the carrots had not come up yet!):

One of the big chores we needed to do today was to check for bugs, both bad and good ones. Of course, we came up with a bunch of both!

First, take a look at our beautiful pollinator butterflies! The fall monarch migration did not disappoint this year and they were out in force at SABOT. The little green butterfly we found incognito our peas looks like a Sulpher, but also could be a Southern Dogface – I certainly can’t tell. Any ideas?

Check out some of the other bugs we found:


We found some cucumber bugs, some grasshoppers and possibly a wooly bear caterpillar (?) – I’m not sure on the identification of that caterpillar but would welcome suggestions!! Finally, we’ve got some type of cocoon nesting in our pea leaves!

Take a look at some other bad bugs to look out for:

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Before we left, after we made sure to check out all our cole crops for loopers, we fertilized with one cup of granulated fertilizer spread out around all 6 plants (2 cabbage, 2 broccoli and 2 cauliflower). Finally, we completed the following:

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That’s all we’ve got for now friends, and before you go, take a look at our harvest this week!! Make sure to check back in next week to see our garden’s progress!

Children’s Vegetable Garden Week 7: October 20, 2018

Hi Friends!

Last weekend at the garden was SO FUN. The weather was nice, the wind was blowing gently, and we were able to put together our scarecrows! Big Thanks to Art Vasquez for showing our gardeners how to make the scarecrows, and to Ruby Zavala for offering the art supplies for adding that extra special touch. One group even chose a Nutcracker theme for their plots – check it out!

We didn’t plant anything new last weekend, but one of the big projects we had (aside from the scarecrows) was to look for bugs..and boy did we find them. Fortunately, we found both detrimental and beneficial bugs, so it’s not all bad news. Check out some of the beneficial insect friends we found:

A honeybee, ladybug larva,  a ladybug AND an earthworm!

Now for the BAD bugs:

A tomato hornworm, an armyworm and evidence of cabbage loopers.

These guys have the capacity to totally destroy your gardens. Click on the links below to learn more about these caterpillars –



Cabbage Loopers:

We did add a cup of granulated fertilizer to our cole crops – our broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. We also made sure to inspect our plots to confirm that all our seeds are sprouting. Check out these happy plants:

The last thing I should mention is that many of our tomato plants were too big to safely tuck the branches back into their cages, so we used garden tape and tied them to the tomato cages:

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That’s all we’ve got for now, friends. Be sure to check back in next week to see all the fun we had at the garden!