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 –

http://www.sabot.org/education/childrens-education/childrens-vegetable-garden-program/

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.

 

 

 

 

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:

IMG_3780

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!

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: 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:

IMG_3557 2

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.

IMG_3566 2

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

IMG_3549 2

 

 

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:

IMG_3287IMG_3283

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!
IMG_3286

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

Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 10.52.11 AM

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:

Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 10.56.59 AM

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!