Week 9- October 14, 2017

Hello Gardeners!

We have now moved to the maintenance part of the growing season. We have Master Gardeners from all over the state coming this next week, so everyone worked very hard to make sure the gardens were looking their best.


Notice some have smaller plants than others. These are probably re-plants


Isn’t this pleasing to look at? See how nice the mulched walk ways look as well! Way to go guys!

We plucked all the weeds, and removed large debris and trash. All brown and yellow leaves were removed from plants, and insects (leaf-footed stink bugs, caterpillars, and cucumber beetles) were destroyed.


Look out for the green lacewing too! They are a good bug and eat aphids.


Pollinators are everywhere!

Remember that cucumber beetles can be found on green beans, yellow squash, and of course cucumbers 🙂 Bugs hide under the leaves of the cole crops, so make sure you’re checking them very well. Marigolds and cucumbers were harvested. Did you know you can eat marigolds? The flower is delicious on salads!


Harvest artfully arranged. 

We made sure that everyone had tied up their green beans. Some kids were able to harvest kale this morning as well. Some cabbage leaves may need to be removed so as not to overshadow the tiny radishes. A few plots had to re-seed lettuce in the empty spaces. Lettuce can be tricky to plant because the seeds are so small. There are lots of YouTube videos about lettuce planting so check some out! All the plants were thoroughly watered, not forgetting the marigolds of course, who aren’t reached by the irrigation systems. Don’t forget irrigation lines must be checked every week for clogs with our super special unclogging tool- the paper clip!


Those cole crops look amazing! The gardens really speak for themselves, don’t they?

This weeks JMG activity in the Sunday House was from the Learn,Grow, Eat & GO! curriculum. This curriculum is based on research and evidence done by Texas A&M and is available to all schools. We often teach lessons from it here at the gardens. The program itself takes kids all the way from learning how plants grow, to planting an actual garden at their schools, and then harvesting it and tasting stuff right in the classroom and learning what good food our body needs! If you’re interested in this program for your school, contact me or Ruby (our youth gardens coordinator) at ruby.zavala@ag.tamu.edu

The activity we did today was called “Garden Skillet Sizzle” and the kids learned how to properly clean and prepare squash, bell peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini into a delicious snack.

It might be cool to have a conversation with your kids who maybe doubted how this gardening thing would all work out. Are they feeling differently now that they can see their hard work paying off? In our instant gratification society, the garden can be a friend that takes a while to get close to our hearts.

I am out of town the next five weeks, so please welcome my friends who are taking photos for me! They are various section leaders and parents. Your help is SO appreciated friends!



Week 8- October 7, 2017

Hello gardeners!

This was a morning of plant checking and chores. A friendly reminder- please bring in compostable materials! This makes such a huge difference in the quality of our vegetable growth.


Things are coming up well!


Cucumbers are so photogenic. Here’s one with the flower still holding on.

The kids began the day with checking everything for bugs. Now that things are really blooming the bugs will be coming! Some gardeners saw leaf-footed bugs on their tomatoes. These were squashed. Also beware of cucumber beetles and aphids. Here’s a great AgriLife resource on controlling insects in the vegetable garden. Sometimes just squishing them is the best way!

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Bug check

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Hello bugs?

We also checked the plots for any weeds, and removed them. Be sure to check the walkways for weeds too! You have to be careful though, because baby carrots look like weeds!


Out pesky weeds!

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Miss Sandra kills aphids

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Everyone hard at work

Our green beans needed to be tied up. We put a stake at each of the four corners and looped twine around them to keep them in line.

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Bean roping

Our JMG activity this week was taught by Grace Emery. It was about herbs and removing seeds from dried herbs. Everyone loved it!

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Grace Emery teaching

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Seed picking

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Collecting seeds for their chart

At the end of the day Spinosad was applied to the cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, celery, beans, and squash. The plants were doubly drenched because it appears cucumber beetles have been eating the leaves on the bean and squash plants too! Remember that any tomato leaves that are brown or touching the soil should be removed. All plants were thoroughly watered. The kids continue to be amazed by how much cucumbers can grow in a week! If you’re wondering whether to harvest one or not, be sure to ask your section leader.


Week 7: September 30, 2017


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Looking good!

This week we are profiling Ms. Layla’s section. As always, we examined all plants and checked them for pests. Any pests were crushed. We don’t want them damaging anyone else’s plants! Tomatoes, cucumbers, and cole crops are prone to pests. We rubbed the backside of the leaves to kill any baby cabbage loopers. After everything was watered in, we went back and drenched Spinosad (2 oz to one gallon of water, along with 2 drops liquid Ivory soap) on the following plants: cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, celery, and squash.

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Section meeting with Ms. Layla

We made sure the areas where lettuce and radish were to be planted were free from large debris, to enable the seedlings to come up. Four rows of “All Star” gourmet lettuce will be planted 8 in from celery towards the tomato plant. The other three rows should be spaced 6 inches apart. We used the yard stick to saw back and forth again to create small trenches for the seeds, an inch wide and an inch deep. Each row should have two pinch fulls of seeds slowly and gently spread out. There are lots of great YouTube videos on how to plant lettuce, check some out! The seeds were covered VERY lightly with finely screened compost. We don’t want big clumps of anything, remember? The seeds were gently tamped and watered in.



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More planning and measuring

Next we planted “Sora” radishes. One row of seeds was sown between the middle of the last row of beans and the cabbage plants. A 2-3 inch wide band that was 1/4 inch deep was dug. Each seed should be 1 inch apart. The seeds were lightly covered, tamped, and watered in.

Lastly, we fertilized celery, beans, yellow squash, and marigolds (after the irrigation watered them) with a full gallon of Hasta-Gro. The recipe was two oz Hasta-Gro to one gallon water.

Many people were able to harvest cucumbers this week. They grow SO FAST! Check out how the cucumbers attach themselves to the trellis to support the weight of the fruit. Cool, right?





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Hold on tight!

This week was our first JMG activity. We made scarecrows! This was my first time doing this activity, so thank you to the parents who had done it before and helped me 🙂


Working on scarecrows


Drawing a scary cyclops eye. How creative!

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His face cracks me up!

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What a cool handmade face!



This was such a fun day! I hope everyone enjoyed it. I’ve had a few parents tell me they aren’t getting the agendas. I’ll be posting them here when they are emailed out, so check the tab at the top of the page that says “agendas”. Also, you can email Denise (dsperez@ag.tamu.edu) to be added to the list. We are having an issue where parents take turns bringing the kids, but don’t both get the agenda! Let’s make sure everyone gets one so things run smoothly. See y’all soon!


Week 6- September 23, 2017

This morning we started with some garden chores. The plots should be level, as this will help with watering. In between the cucumber trellis and tomato cage the compost should have been dug in at least 4 inches deep. It seems not all plots did this last week. Please remember to read the agenda before coming! We know it is a lot of little things, but it virtually guarantees your gardening success!


Today I followed section 1 around. Here they are at their morning meeting:

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As always, we checked on all of our previous plantings. Tomatoes were tucked into cages, and brown or yellow leaves were removed. We evenly fertilized the outer lip of the tomato plant with either one cup of Lady Bug granulated fertilizer, or five small bottles of Milogranite organic fertilizer.

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Nice straight row of cucumbers. Notice how some are bigger than others. Why might this be?


Tomato fertilizer

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Checking up on tomatoes

We checked the cucumber very closely, especially ALL the flowers. Any intruding cucumber beetles were crushed. All plants will need to be checked for bugs every week now. We noticed that in some plots, some of the seeds didn’t come up. This could have been because the plots weren’t leveled first, or seeds weren’t put in deeply enough, and water washed them away.

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Checking cabbage for bugs

The marigolds were hand watered very well. The backside of the leaves of cauliflower, broccoli, and kale were gently rubbed to remove any cabbage loopers. Here’s an example of what one looks like:

Cabbage looper (not from our gardens)

After being watered at the end of the day, these plants were drenched with Javelin Bt, a biological insecticide, at a ratio of one teaspoon to one gallon of water. 2 drops of Ivory soap is added for preventative control of the looper caterpillars. This organic pesticide is expensive, so use it carefully.

All bush bean seeds should be sprouting, if not we planted more seeds. Previously added compost is dug at least 4 inches into the soil. Remember to drop the seed sideways, and not up and down. If re-planting, make sure seeds aren’t exposed after watering.


Bush beans


Cucumber on the trellis and squash seeds planted in a “X” fashion

The yellow squash seeds should also be up by now. If not, these were re-seeded as well.

We only had two plantings today. All transplants were thoroughly watered before planting.

We planted two “Tango” celery transplants. They were planted in the middle area between the outer edge of the cucumber trellis and the outer lip of the tomato cage. The plants were placed 12 inches away from the top and bottom of the inside part of the plot, 18 inches from each other. The peat pot stays on, and the plant is firmed in. None of the roots or peat pot should be visible after planting.

Extensive measuring was done first before we could plant the carrots.


Figuring out where carrots go

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First we made sure the area where the carrots were to be planted was free of any large debris that might hinder their growth. Seedlings are delicate! 8 inches from the planted celery transplants, towards the cucumber trellis is where the first row of carrots was to be planted. The other three rows were spaced 6 inches apart. Each row had 20 seeds spaces about 2 inches apart. The best way to plan the rows was to place a yardstick down, make sure it was straight, and then sort of saw it back in forth in the ground to create a small depression where the seeds could be placed. The seeds were barely covered and tamped in with excess soil and watered.

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Carrots being watered in

Lastly we ran the irrigation system for 12-15 minutes. Celery, bean, yellow squash, and marigolds were fertilized with a full gallon Hasta-gro. We used one gallon of water and 2 oz of Hasta-Gro. Remember not to get any fertilizer on the leaves!

Next week we will make scarecrows for each bed! Please remember to see the agenda for any materials. Note that everyone gets to sleep in now! Please be here by 9 am 🙂

Until then,


Week 5- September 16, 2017

Hello Gardeners!

Special thanks to volunteer Michelle for helping me out and taking pictures this weekend. We volunteers have lives that get in the way sometimes! This program runs twice a year, so 32 weeks total. It’s quite a large commitment for all of us!

Many more plantings were scheduled for today. One cup of Ladybug Fertilizer should be added to where the bush beans will be planted. 2 cups should be applied between the cucumber trellis and the tomato cage, and 2 cups between the cucumber trellis and the end of the plot. All plots need to “Deep Dig” this fertilizer in with previously added compost, at least 4 inches deep and leveled off with the long handed cultivator. Here’s how it should look when you’re finished:


Everything nicely scratched in and leveled off.



At 4 inches deep the soil was moist and cool, but above that was dry and clumpy. Mixing in the compost better breaks up the clumps to allow for a better environment for worms and better drainage



Working the soil


Here are some folks getting their fertilizer and compost in:


As always, we checked on all the other planted veggies. Wayward tomatoes need to be straight and tucked into their cages. If your cucumber is now growing against the trellis, try to remove the bamboo stake gently. Make sure your marigolds are growing well- these aren’t watered by the irrigation lines that volunteers come to turn on several times a week, so they must be watched carefully! Hopefully all the broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower is doing well. Cabbage loopers are often a problem, so gently rub the back of the leaves to destroy any adults or eggs. At the end of the day, and after thorough watering, they will be drenched with Javelin Bt diluted at one teaspoon powder to one gallon of water, along with 2 drops of Ivory detergent. This should prevent cabbage looper caterpillars. This organic pesticide is very expensive, so don’t waste any! Whatever remains in the can can be used on the planted kale and tomato plants.


Here a parent is showing the male cucumber flower that fell off, and explaining that the fruit is growing because it was fertilized by bees


a cucumber flower

Our plantings today are 3 rows of “Provider” bush beans with 15 seeds per row, 5 “Straight Neck” yellow squash seeds, 2 “Toscano” kale transplants, and 2 “Tango” celery transplants. Can you believe everything that fits in this one plot?!

The measurements for the bush beans were laid out last week. We dug small trenches an inch wide and an inch deep for each of the three rows. Each row should have 15 seeds equally spaced about 3 inches apart. Seeds should be dropped sideways, not up and down, to prevent them washing away. Seeds were covered with excess soil and lightly tamped in and thoroughly watered. Plant tags were added.


Preparing to plant beans


More planning bean placement


Beans laid sideways

Next the squash were planted. The measurement from the outer edge of the cucumber trellis to the inside edge at the end of the plot should be 48 inches.  The center of this area was located. The first squash seed was planted here, an inch below the surface, with the pointy end up, and firmly tamped in. The other four seeds were planted 1 ft from the first in an “X”. The area was thoroughly watered and tagged with one tag.



Squash planning


More squash planning


Planting squash seeds

Note that all transplants are thoroughly watered before planting!

Next the kale was planted. They should be planted 16 inches away from the middle of each of last weeks planted cauliflower plants. Space each plant 12 inches away from the top and bottom of the inside part of the plot, 18 inches from each other. Leave the peat pot on! Firm the plants in well, but don’t damage the stem or leaves. Tag it!


Working the soil between plantings


Planting kale

Last, we planted celery. The celery transplants will be planted in the middle between the outer edge of the cucumber trellis and the outer lip of the tomato cage. This planting area should measure about 6′, so we found the middle. Each plant should be 12 inches away from the top and bottom of the inside part of the plot, and 18 inches from each other. Plants were placed in, firmed in, and tagged.

We fertilized all plants in each plot with a full gallon of Hasta-Gro. The recipe for this was 2 oz of Hasta-Gro for one gallon of water (which is only half a can, as the cans are 2 gallons).

Whew! What a busy day. The irrigation system was turned on for 12-15 minutes, while we monitored for clogs as always, trusty paperclip in hand. All tools were cleaned and returned to the shed.

It isn’t too late to get your home garden started. Google is your friend for building raised beds! Here is the AgriLife resource for building a raised bed, and here is how to choose a garden site. Here are the plants you can do for fall. Note that many of these dates haven’t yet passed, and several of these veggies can be grown in containers! I grow my tomatoes in containers and love it. Note that some of these grow best from transplants, so support small businesses and buy these plants locally. Milbergers, Rainbow Gardens, and Fanick’s are a few located here in San Antonio.

See ya’ll next week!



Week 4- September 9, 2017

Hello gardeners!

Please excuse this week’s lack of photos. I had an infection and was on antibiotics; I didn’t want to get any of the kiddo’s sick! I’m going to work on finding a replacement photographer, as I have other commitments for several other weekends this season as well. If you’re available to take some cell phone pictures occasionally, let me know!

You may have noticed some plots have colored flags in them. This means compost must be added to these areas. Take care to avoid the irrigation lines.

Next, we fertilized the area in-between the marigolds and the first tomato cage with 4 cups of Ladybug Organic Fertilizer. This should be scratched in. We also scratched in any added compost. This makes it easier for seedlings to sprout! Small spurge weeds can be worked into the soil- we don’t need to pull them up the way we do other weeds.

Evaluate your previous plantings. Tomato’s should be straight and well supported in their cages. Tuck them in if they’re trying to escape. If any root balls are exposed, add a thing layer of compost and then mulch to cut back on watering needs. Removed leaves touching the soil.

For the cucumbers, you’ll want to make sure that the support trellis is appropriately placed. 

Your marigolds should look healthy as well. These aren’t watered by the irrigation system, so water with the watering can.

We had lots to plant today! Make sure all transplants are watered well before removing from the 6-pack.

We measured where the bush beans will be planted next week -24 inches away from the inside center from the very front of your plot. Mark this area with some stakes. This will be the first row to direct seed 15 seeds. Each should be 2-3 in apart and about an inch deep. Check again after watering to see if they need to be pressed back in! The other two rows should be spaced 8 inches apart.

The next planting was “Cheers” head cabbage. Measure 2 ft away from the bush beans. For each transplant, we space the cabbage plants out 12 in away from the top and bottom of the inside part of the plot, 18 in from each other. We know all this measuring seems tedious, but it gives the garden a well kept look, and ensures all the plants have space to grow! The plants are planted at or below the soil line (below if they are top heavy). Basically as deep as the first set of leaves. Firm the plants in well. None of the peat pot should be visible! We tagged it and moved on.

Up next was “Green Magic” broccoli. Transplants are 24 in away from the middle of each of the two cabbages. These are measured and planted the same way as the cabbage.

The last planting was “Snow Crown” cauliflower. The transplants are planted 24 inches away from the middle of each of the broccoli plants. Measure and plant the same as the previous two plantings.

Slowly water in all new plants. Each plot will get one gallon of water with 2 oz of Hasta-Gro. Don’t get any on the leaves, just the soil around each plant!

Lastly, we watered the area with the irrigation system on low for about 12-15 minutes.

All tools were cleaned and put away.

Starting September 30th we will have activities in the Sunday House. We’re doing all kinds of things, including making scarecrows, learning about bees, and learning how to compost!

See ya’ll soon!

Week 3- September 2, 2017

I’ve decided to follow one section a week so that everyone has a chance to get featured. If you don’t see yourself yet, don’t worry, you will 🙂

This week we had several plantings to catch up on due to last week’s cancellation. Just a few reminders for everyone:

-Please be on time. Y’all should be here at 8 am sharp! We have lots to do over the next few weeks, and we want to beat the heat!

-There are two excused absences per gardening session. If your child is unable to attend, please make sure that there is a family member who can attend to help, so as not to overburden your section (or email us for help!)

-Don’t forget to drink water! It also helps for your child to keep a garden journal. As Adam Savage from MythBusters says, “The difference between messing around and science is writing it down!”

-Remember to bring in kitchen scraps for the compost pile. This really helps the kids take ownership of the gardens. A five gallon bucket on the back patio does just fine.

Let’s jump into the planting and maintenance!

First up, Ms. Mary, our section lead, held a team meeting where she demonstrated the use of her homemade ant killer and discussed the days plans.

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See ya later ants!

Everyone made sure to scratch and level his or her plots.



We checked on our Tycoon tomatoes next. The storm last week took a few of them out. Those were marked ahead of time so the kids knew which ones needed replacing. Here’s an example of one sick tomato!

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Poor guy!

New tomatoes were planted where needed, but we didn’t worry about pre-soaking the hole as much since we got so much rain last week. We planted our second tomato plants, the “Dwarf Cherry Surprise” BHN 968. The planting was done the exact same as last week, both with fertilizer and planting depth.We made sure no roots were exposed,

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Tomato planting

and that the tomato was standing straight up in the cage. If roots were exposed, we added some compost to cover them. As always, we mulched the berm around the tomato to keep water and nutrients in. Any leaves touching the soil were removed.

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Mulching the berm

Our next planting was the “Sweet Slice” Burpless cucumber (these names kill me!). These plants are very fragile and must be handled with care. The trellises were already set up for us. We applied one cup of Ladybug fertilizer to the front and middle part of the trellis. The plant was planted about 2 inches away from the middle of the trellis. You’ll notice cucumber plants have a certain way they seem to want to lean, so we made sure that was leaning towards the trellis when planted. The cucumber was planted even with the soil line and firmed in. We set a support stake in diagonally, to train the plant towards the trellis. Be careful to do this a few inches in front of the plant so as not to disturb the roots.


Cucumber planting with trellis (note the support stake)

The plant was gently watered in, and labelled with a tag.

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Watering in the cucumber

Our last planting of the day was marigolds. A&M AgriLife Extension tells us that marigold roots release a substance that is toxic to nematodes, who can quickly ruin a fall planting. All the marigold plants were pre-watered. They were to be planted just a little below the soil line and firmed in very well.

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Planning marigold placement

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Each plot planted four marigolds. They were planted in the peat pots they came in, and we were careful not to disturb the roots. All marigolds were gently watered in.

Every plant was given Hasta-Gro liquid soluble starter mix, just like in week 1. The recipe is 2 oz of Hasta-Gro per gallon of water, with each plot receiving one quarter gallon of water/fertilizer mix. Take care not to get any fertilizer on the leaves as it can burn them!

Although it is mentioned in the agenda, I wanted to say it again here. We use a lot of fertilizer! The organic LadyBug fertilizer is natural and granulated, and thus has a low nutritional content. We have to apply lots of it because it takes about three weeks to break down and become available to the plants. We supplement with the liquid Hasta-Gro once a week for about 3 weeks because it is immediately available to the plants.

The kids also learned how to maintain and turn on the irrigation system. Their fancy tool for unclogging? A paper clip. Isn’t it nice when a gardening problem has a simple answer?

Have you heard of the Junior Master Gardener program? It’s another set of programs offered by A&M Extension. If your children’s school doesn’t have a garden, we have plenty of resources to help you start one! Find me on Saturday’s and we can talk about it, or email our youth gardens coordinator Ruby Zavala, Ruby.Zavala@ag.tamu.edu. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t know how to talk to the administrators about it, and aren’t sure where the money will come from. We can help with all of that! You’re going to see what a difference this program makes in your child’s life, why not change a whole school?


Until next week,