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:
chores

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:

Army worm.jpg
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.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 5, March 30, 2019

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.                                                                                                                          

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Well!  We haven’t quite made it to April but I thoroughly understand the sentiment….. Typically in South Texas April is a ‘safe’ month for gardening but I withheld bean planting in my own garden due to predicted temperatures for the coming week (less than 50 degrees overnight).  My empty bean trellis was lonely but expectantly awaiting the arrival of Chinese Long Bean seeds:

bean trellis The beauty of the inverted trellis is that the beans grow on the outside……causing less damage to the plant structure.  Garlic chives are awaiting an omlette in the foreground. 

The Children’s Vegetable Garden participants pressed on with planting ‘Provider’ bush beans.  These sturdy plants do not require a trellis but occasionally are corralled with bamboo stakes and twine to contain their abundant growth.

In spite of the melancholy weather the stupendous Grant’s Garnet poppies noted in the last blog entry were bursting into bloom in the experimental beds.

poppies week 5More information on these spectacular poppies is available in the January Scion Grant’s Garnet .

Further South in the children’s garden volunteers planted an empty bed with “Whopper” Begonias:

whopper begoniasThe Collins English dictionary defines ‘Whopper’ as anything extraordinarily large.  The stunning heads on these Superstar plants will certainly live up to their name Whopper Begonias

Back down to earth with vegetables……….. Green Magic broccoli planted in week 3 was prepared for a drenching with Spinosad.  The ‘HM8849’ and ‘Ruby Crush’ tomatoes were also treated to a gentle dose.

green magic broccoli Broccoli (crowns  and stems) are delicious when roasted and simply dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper.  A squirt of lemon juice and a dab of tahini elevate the flavor without much additional effort.  

‘Tempest” yellow squash and ‘Tigress’ zucchini squash seeds were just poking up in a few plots:

zuke seedlings Tempest crookneck squash is reported to have a nutty flavor and a firm texture.  Tigress zuchini is high yielding and particularly virus resistant.

The dedicated weekly watering team was careful to ensure the petunias were planted correctly to produce dramatic blooms like the perimeter bed.  On Saturday the plants were carefully watered by hand and fertilized with Hasta-Gro:

watering petunias petunias‘Carpet Mix’ petunias planted between the end of the bed and the irrigation line need extra attention for proper watering.  Petunias in the perimeter bed were a shocking pink display interspersed with bluebonnets.

‘Sweet Slice’ cucumbers were planted two inches away from each trellis after fertilizing with Espoma fertilizer:

cuke plant prep sweet slice cukesCucumbers are particularly good sliced thin with onion and a plain dressing of oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. 

An abundant swath of Indian blanket flowers waved the gardeners goodbye at the end of the day:

Indian blankets Gaillardia pulchella aka Indian Blanket, Firewheel, Girasol Rojo.

Until next week……….

 

Best wishes,

Anne Marie S.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 4, March 23rd 2019

Hello all!

Announcement!!: Want to know if Saturday’s session is cancelled? Cancellation notifications will now be posted/updated here on the Children’s Vegetable Garden Program Blog!

This past Saturday at the Children’s Garden was another beautiful day. We were blessed with cool weather and sun, even though rain was in the forecast all morning. What a great day!

As soon as the families arrived, we were on to our garden chores. David requested that we make sure that our plots and section walkways were free of any weeds, trash, or rocks.

We also checked our plants for any damaged leaves, insects, and tied up stems and leaves.

We scratched up the soil to a depth of 4 inches inside our plots and the area between your irrigation on/off valve with a four tine cultivator as well as a minimum of six inches away from anything that has been planted. This will help minimize the caking of the soil and help with soil drainage and watering. Remember, we are not tilling or digging deep into the soil. Plots should look nice and leveled with no craters.

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We flagged any fire ant activity throughout the garden and our Section Leaders will treat them at the end of today’s session.

How Do Your Plants Look?

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‘Green Magic’ Broccoli:

  • This is the last day to replace any of your plants.
  • Make sure your plant is nice and straight.
  • Water your plant in real good, but do not get the foliage wet.
  • Fertilize each plant with a quarter-gallon of liquid Hasta Gro fertilizer.
  • Gently drench all your plants leaves with Spinosad. This is an expensive product, so let’s use it wisely.

HM 8849’ and ‘Ruby Crush’ Tomatoes:

  • Does your tomato cage shake a lot? If so, anchor it down correctly.
  • Open up the cloth on your cages and see how your plants are growing.
  • Do any of your plants need to be replaced? If so, this is the last week to do so.
  • Cut off any stems/leaves that might be touching the soil.
  • If your top snapped off any of your plants, cut it off.
  • Is your plant nice and straight? Does it need another anchor stake?
  • Water your plant in real good, but do not get the foliage wet.
  • Fertilize each plant with a half-gallon of liquid Hasta Gro fertilizer.
  • Make sure to properly re-wrap your clothes on their cages nice and tight.

Today’s Plantings!

Petunias

We handled the plants carefully not to disturb the root system and used the irrigation on/off valve located at the front of our plots as a guideline.We do not want to disturb or damage their root system.


Fun fact from Mr. David Rodriguez: Did you know that petunias and tomatoes are in the same family of plants?

Carefully, we pre-soaked the entire 6–pack of petunia transplants in a bucket of water, filled to the lip of their root ball, until all the air bubbles came out.

Next, we scratched up the planting zonses, applied compost and a cup of Espoma granulated organic fertilizer to it.

Two plants were evenly spaced and planted on each side of the irrigation line and about 4 inches away from the top and bottom of the plot.

Plant your petunia plants a little bit above the soil line. DO NOT remove the peat pot. Firm the plants well, but take caution not to breaking any of their runners or damage any leaves.

Looks like these need to be replanted. Since the peat pots were exposed, they are starting to dry out a lot faster. 

The challenge in planting here is the irrigation lines cannot water these plants. We have to keep a good eye on them and water with the water can.

 

Yellow Squash and Zucchini

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Three seeds squash were sown to the right of the tomato plant and  4 zucchini seeds next to the cucumber trellis.

We evenly spaced out the seeds starting from the top to the bottom of the plot. We used bamboo stakes as guide references.


Each seed was gently planted just below the soil surface with its point barely below the soil surface.

*Make sure that these are not planted too deep; the soil is firmed in well on the top and that they are lightly watered in.*

No seeds should be visible after a real light watering and of couse we put out your plant tags.

Next, we applied one full cup of Espoma granulated fertilizer to this allocated planting area and very lightly scratch it in.

Homework Assignment: Study up on purple martins.

This was all our chores we had for the day. What fun 🙂

 

Extra Pics

Just wanted to throw in some additional pics from our research plots and large container bins.

The Maroon Poppies are looking great!

Check out all the swallow tail caterpillars we have on our dill!!

And our Bluebonnets! We didn’t intentionally plant them this season. They keep reseeding every year and look at all the pretty colors they come in!! Have you ever seen a pink Bluebonnet? How about a purple Bluebonnet?

See you for Week 5 post!!!

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 3, March 16, 2019

Gardens are not made by singing “Oh, How beautiful,” and sitting in the shade.                                                                                                                               

Rudyard Kipling

There was no shade in sight except a gorgeous steel gray cloud embankment the morning of March 16th:

clouds week 3 Blanketed tomatoes stood sentry under the watchful eyes of the purple martin house.

Ruby crush tomatoes were ready and waiting in the Sunday House:

2nd tomatoA rose by any other name is a Ruby Crush.

A few errant gardeners discovered that the mysterious “winter greens” in one of the example plots were actually poppies ready to burst into bloom!  The maroon “Aggie” poppy was isolated by Greg Grant and is known as “Grant’s Garnet”.

poppy Don’t be lulled to sleep like Dorothy……. Grant’s Garnet 

Two tender “Green Magic” broccoli plants were also ready for each plot.  This variety was first marketed in 2004 as a replacement for “Green Comet” broccoli.  Hopefully the new plants will remain harlequin beetle-free unlike the plants from the fall session:

broccoli copy Harlequin beetles are public enemy number 1 for broccoli Harlequin bugs

Unlike poppy leaves, broccoli leaves (and cabbage leaves) are imminently edible.  Use as you would any leafy winter vegetable green (i.e. kale, cabbage leaves, brussel sprout leaves).  The winter vegetables are also particularly delicious in almost any St. Patrick’s Day guise.  I enjoyed a steamed head of cabbage interspersed with chile pequin and a fabulous sunset on Cash Mountain Road:

st pat's sky

Happy Spring 2019!

 

Best wishes,

Anne Marie S.