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 –

Hornworm: https://texasinsects.tamu.edu/tomato-hornworm/

Armyworm: https://cdn-ext.agnet.tamu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/armyworm-pest-hay-pasture.pdf

Cabbage Loopers: https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/vegetable/problem-solvers/cucurbit-problem-solver/cucurbit-insects/cabbage-looper/

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!

Children’s Vegetable Garden Week 5: October 6, 2018

Hi Friends!

We finally got a sunny Saturday to work, and lemme tell you, we worked. Our young gardeners and volunteers were out early and stayed late to catch up with this season’s plantings. We also harvested CUCUMBERS! Super cool.

One thing that some of our plots are struggling with right now are insect pests. The rain prevented our volunteers from being able to properly treat our plants for bugs. Check it out:

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This is a picture of the cucumber plant, and it’s in pretty bad shape. I can see mealybugs for sure, and a bunch of other creepy crawlers. I’m itchy just looking at it. Thankfully one of the projects the volunteers took care of was treating all the plants for detrimental insects with liquid spinosad. THANK YOU!! Fingers crossed that they’re looking better this weekend.

As always, the first thing we do is always check our plots for weeds and look at the green and growing plants. How do they look? Are the squash sprouting? Are there any cabbage loopers on the broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower? (Some have already been spotted in the garden) Did the beans sprout?

^^Bean sprouts and baby cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli^^

Next we measured out and planted our ‘Cruiser’ Cilantro and ‘Yaya’ Carrots. During soil prep for the seeds, we added one cup of granular fertilizer to each space we planed in. Next we measured out 8″ from the center board. This is where we marked our first row. From there we measured two more rows – all 8″ apart. We first planted our cilantro seeds – each seed 2-3″ apart.

For the carrots we did the exact same thing – 8″ from the center board, all 3 rows 8″ apart, a seed planted every 2-3″. You’ll notice our carrot seeds are pelleted. This is because without it we’d definitely lose a bunch of teeny tiny carrot seeds. We’d probably end up with carrots growing all over the Botanical Garden.

Here are our fertilizing instructions for Week 5:

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That’s all we’ve got for this week. Let’s hope for good weather next Saturday!

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Children’s Vegetable Garden Week 4: September 29, 2018

Hi Friends!

 

We were barely making progress on our beds this week when the RAIN came back. Fortunately we got in about an hour and a half of solid gardening before Mother Nature gave everything a good drink.

The first thing we did was check in on our green and growing plants. As you can see above, some of our cucumbers are looking fantastic. We then weeded and lightly hand tilled our beds in preparation for the day’s plantings – ‘Green Magic’ Broccoli, ‘Snow Crown’ Cauliflower, and for those who braved the downpour, ‘Provider’ bush beans.

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When planting the cauliflower and broccoli, measuring appropriately is your best bet to make sure that you have enough room to grow your plants to their full potential. Each broccoli should be planted 24″ (2 feet) away from the already transplanted cabbage, and then another 12″ inches (1 foot) away from the sides of the raised bed.

From there we planted the cauliflower using the same measurements – 24″ away from the newly planted broccoli and 12″ away from the sides of the garden bed.

Some gardeners were able to plant the bush bean seeds, and others will do that during Week 5. Those who planted the seeds measured 6″ away from the center board of our plots (as seen below), and then each row (approx 4 rows) is measured 6″ away from the previous row. There was about 60 seeds, so each row has 15 seeds – each planted 2 to 3 inches apart.

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That’s as far as we got before the rain started…

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…so we called it a day around 10:30!

Reminder – Compost campaign: Children, and volunteers are encouraged to bring coffee grounds, disposable coffee filters, tea bags, egg shells, vegetable scraps and other appropriate compostable materials from their homes or from their local coffee shop. These materials will be added to the backside of our compost pile until further notice.

Thanks so much and remember check in next week!

Week 15: May 26, 2018

Hi friends!

Last week at the Children’s Vegetable Garden we started to think about the process of wrapping up the beds for the summer. (BOO!) As we all know – too well – the summer in San Antonio can be brutal for some types of plants – and humans! Our solution: put the beds to sleep for the summer. Research and common sense has shown us that our spring crop is generally done producing quality veggies by the time the serious heat rolls around, and leaving the plants longer than advised only invites bad bugs to come party. So, next week will be our last blog post for the spring garden.

Since the Week 15 agenda consisted of general maintenance in our beds, and most of the harvesting was done during Week 14, I thought this would be a perfect time for some fun  progression pictures:

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^^POTATOES^^

^^BROCCOLI^^

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^^CUCUMBER^^

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^^BUSH BEANS^^

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^^TOMATOES^^

That’s all we’ve got this week friends, be sure to check back in next week to see how our last meeting and work party went!!

Week 14: May 19, 2018

Hi Friends! Last week was our CVG Picnic and Veggie Contest, and boy do we have some fun pics to show off. We had people from all over San Antonio come to volunteer their time to help judge, help cook out and help bring dishes for us all to share potluck style.

What a great volunteer turn out we had last week. Also, I think we should note (for those of you who are new to our blog) we have volunteers come help run each garden group weekly. In addition to volunteers on Saturdays, we also have a team of volunteers who come during the week to water the beds. Together, our volunteer team is absolutely essential to the success of the beds, and the garden would flounder without them. Take a look at our volunteer garden leaders with their respective groups:

Our gardeners worked all season to harvest that perfect veggie to enter into the vegetable contest. I should note that the Bexar County Master Gardener judges had very strict guidelines regarding judging the produce:

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As you can see, this contest was serious stuff for a new gardener to try to win. 😉

Are you ready to see our contest participants?? Here we go:

 

!!What an impressive showing!!

As we all know, it’s not always about winning. The knowledge each gardener gains from this program will stay with them for a long time. Making the connection between food and it’s source is such an essential lesson for young people to learn, and add the knowledge of how to actually grow food, and you’ve got a major game changer there. So, in the spirit of knowledge, each gardener was a winner, regardless of how their veggies looked. (And I mean that in the least cheesy way possible, because everyone who participated really, honestly does come out ahead.) BUT, just in case you were wondering, here are some of the entries that went through the very rigorous judging process ;):

AND THE WINNERS…..

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What a fun day for everyone, especially for those who competed. What’s better than beautiful weather, great food, green and growing gardens, and awesome company?

That’s all we’ve got for now, friends. Only two more weeks to go before we put our gardens to bed for the summer so, make sure to check back in next week to see how our plants did in the HEAT.

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**Special thanks to the Yaeger family, Dana Drury and Lou Kellogg for taking the best pictures and allowing me to share them on this blog**

Week 13: May 18, 2018

Hi friends! Man oh man, the harvesting that was done last week was incredible! All the hard work of planting, fertilizing, pest removal and watering has paid off BIG TIME. The amount of tomatoes, potatoes and beans I saw kids harvesting was seriously impressive.

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^^LOOK AT THOSE POTATOES^^

One young gardener told me that digging for those was just like digging for treasure – and I’d definitely agree.

 

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Y’all, for real, these gardeners have done a fantastic job this season and have the harvests to prove it. The squash was really coming in last week, and some people were able to take some home! IMG_1588 6

The garden pests are always sneaking around though. It’s important to always continue to the on the look out for detrimental insects. I know my garden had a lot of harlequin bugs this past week, and even though the Children’s Vegetable Garden does a great job of hand picking and treating organically, the bad bugs always find a way to show up here and there. Take a look at the cucumber beetles photobombing my picture of a beautiful squash blossom…IMG_1574 4

We’ve touched only a bit on our Junior Master Gardener lessons here on the blog. Basically, each week we have a local expert on various topics come talk to the group or give a demonstration. Last week we had a local Purple Martin expert, Mr. John Henry, come to the garden and talk about the local Purple Martin population. This was especially cool for the kids because he lowered their houses and showed us THE BABY BIRDS THAT JUST HATCHED. They were adorable and looked like tiny bald aliens and the kids went nuts over them. It was truly very cool to see.

Overall, the progress the gardeners have made and the amount they’ve learned is honestly very impressive, and they’ve really earned all the fresh veggies they get to take home.

That’s all we’ve got for now, friends. Make sure to check back next week to see who won the veggie contests at our CVG picnic and party!

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Week 12: May 5, 2018

 

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Hey friends! We had lots of stuff going on around the garden last weekend – thankfully it was a beautiful day to be outside! We’re still growing our veggies as big and healthy as we can for our annual CVG Picnic, where we’ll hold our CVG Vegetable Contest. This year it’s May 19th – just over a week to grow still!

In the meantime, we’re doing our best to keep the pests out, and really make these last few weeks count. Hand picking pests off our plants is a pretty easy and effective way to manage their populations, but at the end of our meeting, we still applied Organic Pyrethrum to our plants just to make sure. (These guys can be super sneaky.)

All the green (or flowering) and growing plants are all still looking great! Some beds might be ready to harvest their potatoes already and the tomatoes are coming along nicely.

 

My personal favorite, though, is the progress of our cucumbers:

 

^^How great do these look?!^^

Very impressive.

We also had a few other chores around the garden to take care of – the volunteers helped harvest the ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard from the research bed, and some of our young gardeners helped by watering the raspberry beds, the strawberries and the hops. Others helped by cutting vines, adding compost to established beds and cleaning out the shed.

That’s all we’ve got for now, friends. Make sure to check back next week to see how much progress our cucumbers have made!

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**Special thanks to the Murphy and Yauger families for sharing their pictures**