Children’s Vegetable Garden (CVG): Week 14 (Nov 21, 2015)

We still have a productive garden!

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We started out with our usual maintenance chores, weeding and checking for insects. This time I have two beneficial insect pics to show you, a ladybug on the cilantro and a bee on a marigold. (Doesn’t the cilantro look great…it loves this weather!)

Let’s talk about that bee…

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It was a bit cool in the morning when we go there, and there were two bees that were sitting on some marigold flowers, chillin’. Literally!  If the temperature is cool enough, bees cannot fly. According to this article from the University of Kentucky Entomology site, that would be a temperature under 55 degrees Fahrenheit.    We kept an eye on the bees, and as the temperatures warmed, they started to move, slowly, and eventually flew away.

We removed yellow and brown leaves from our plants, and also removed any leaves on taller plants that were shading shorter ones. The cilantro and carrots tend to get shaded sometimes by the taller plants. We also removed cucumbers plants that had stopped producing and were unlikely to produce any more. The plant material was collected in wheelbarrows left in central spots in the garden and moved back to the compost pile.

 

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Some more of the cauliflower were ready to be tied. When the heads are a few inches across, the leaves around the head are pulled up and loosely and gently held in place with a rubber band, protecting the growing head. Left exposed to the sun, the head would turn greenish instead of staying white. (Remember you can click on a picture to enlarge it, then use the back button on your browser to return to this page.)

Some of the gardeners wanted to take their cauliflower home for Thanksgiving dinner and, hey, any time someone wants to eat vegetables, we’re all for it! This cauliflower head would have been larger next week but was fine to pick now; great looking cauliflower!

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We harvested lettuce leaves (leaving the plants to produce more), bunching onions, lettuce, cherry tomatoes…

…broccoli, zinnias (great table decoration), cabbage…

and tomatoes, cauliflower, and a few cucumbers too! We are still weighing our produce at the weighing station:

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Doesn’t this market basket look great!:

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We also fertilized our carrots.  We are giving them a couple more weeks to get a little bigger, but they look very healthy:

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At the end of our day, the garden is neat, a little more bare than when we started as we continue to harvest, but still with a few weeks to go…our last day is 5 December.

Bonus Picture. One of my favorite colors is red—all different shades from fuchsia (ok, it’s reddish purple!)  to bright red. This lovely celosia, in one of the experimental beds at the CVG, is a gorgeous plant.   Here’s a short article from PlantAnswers about celosia–they grow well in our area. By the way, PlantAnswers, like the Bexar County  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service & Cooperative Extension Program website, is a site worth bookmarking as a great online gardening reference for our area.

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Lyn

Lyn Komada, Bexar County Master Gardeners

Children’s Vegetable Garden (CVG): Week 13 (Nov 14, 2015)

Today was the long awaited Vegetable Contest and Picnic!

Today’s Master Gardener Judges were Numa Laiche, Don Crites, and John Opelia. They came out to share their expertise and wisdom on growing the perfect veggie.

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The criteria, rules and guidelines were followed accordingly by each student to enter the contest.

Click here to read the what the judges were looking for.

 

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Once all the entries were submitted, it was time for the judges to come in and rank the veggies according to color, size, and marketability.

 

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After much debate, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons were given out to each participant, and a Grand Champion was named.

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A big Congratulations to our Grand Champion, Amelia Contreras. She won Grand Champion with the BHN 968 tomatoes. They were perfectly identical in shape and color and were exceptionally unique because they are all attached together. Now, that’s a true gardener!

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Click here to see more pics of the garden and pics of all of our Junior Master Gardeners with their Certificates of Participation kindly taken by Bexar County Master Gardener, Lou Kellogg.

Thank you to everyone that came out and participated. It is always the best time of the season!

Children’s Vegetable Garden (CVG): Week 12 (Nov 7, 2015)

I don’t need to tell you that a front had come through on Saturday. Wow it was very windy! And grey!

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But our intrepid gardeners showed up and harvested again. Keeping up with your garden is one of the things that makes our gardeners successful—kudos, gardeners!

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Especially because it was a grey day so it was nice to see pops of colors from the flowers. The marigolds and the zinnias still look bright and a few green beans are still blooming. I spend a lot of time talking about our great veggies, but let’s visit with our flowers for a moment. Flowers mixed into a vegetable garden not only look pretty, but they attract pollinators like bees into the garden.

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I hope that you are deadheading flowers in your yard when they no longer look nice. Deadheading is not just about keeping the plants looking attractive. It also directs energy that most plants would be spending on the next phase (seed production) to producing more flowers instead, which is what we want. You might also want to cut a few flowers in their prime too….the gardener tending his zinnias in the picture above told us that his family likes to float a few blossoms in a bowl of water. Great idea! 🙂

Speaking of deadheading, we continue to put the spent blossoms and other green yard waste on our compost pile. Here’s a pic of the compost pile and a volunteer and his helper mixing some of the deadheaded flowers into the pile.

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The tomatoes are still producing well. See the curled leaves of the plant in the picture (below) at the left? That is in a section of the garden that is subject to more crosswinds, and the tomatoes there had more curled leaves as it was cooler. That is a good example of an area –a microclimate— which has a different climate from the rest of the area. Your yard can have microclimates too, and it is important to consider this when you think about planting. For a nice short article on microclimates, read this article from the Cornell University.

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In addition to the tomatoes, this week we mainly picked radishes, bunching onions, a few greenbeans (most have already been picked), and the outermost leaves of our lettuce, leaving the plants to continue to produce.

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When picking their bunching onions, our gardeners continued to carefully separate them and replant one back so it can start multiplying again.

Even though our harvest will be starting to slow down the garden is still producing and it is important to keep our plants as healthy possible so we will have the best yields we can. Remember to do those same things which we have been doing all season: keep an eye out for bugs, and keep the beds and plants clear of dead and dying leaves. Some insect pictures:

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On the left we have a cucumber beetle—we had them all over the place–squish these if you see them. On the right, a good insect, a bee. This bee was inside a cucumber flower, not moving very much, when we noticed it early in the cool morning. As it warmed up, the bee did too, and eventually left.

Here’s a picture of one of the huge barbeque rosemary plant in the CVG. It’s called that because the stems are very straight and strong, just right for skewers. If you have a spot for a hedge, consider a rosemary hedge! This variety grows about 4-6’ tall, but there are rosemary varieties that are shorter.

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A final picture of the garden as we finish our day:

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The bonus picture this time is of a head of cabbage. This coming Saturday is the gardener’s picnic and vegetable contest, and I expect we will have some lovely heads of cabbage and other vegetables shown at it.

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Lyn

Lyn Komada, Bexar County Master Gardeners

Children’s Vegetable Garden (CVG): Week 11 (Oct 31, 2015)

Children’s Vegetable Garden (CVG): Week 11 (Oct 31, 2015)

There wasn’t much weeding or plant maintenance, but we did check for weeds and bugs, and removed yellow/brown leaves or leaves that had overgrown their boundaries and were shading other plants too much. Then…we harvested. And harvested!

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And the harvesting was wonderful. Our gardeners harvested in a variety of containers…baskets…paper bags…boxes (lovely neatly wrapped tomatoes!)…even a (well cleaned out) kitty litter container. Having a LARGE maine coon cat myself, I can agree that those are very handy to reuse for all sorts of things!

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Our gardeners continued to weigh their produce.  A note here…the gardener who was weighing her cherry tomatoes in the picture below…that was her SECOND load…they would not all fit on the scale…she had over 13 pounds of tomatoes this week!

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Here’s a peek at some of the plants…kohlrabi, kale, cherry tomatoes, and cabbage. Don’t forget you can click on any of these pictures to enlarge them, then use the back arrow on your browser to return to this post. As we harvested the kohlrabi, we planted 3 radish seeds, in a triangle, in place of each kohlrabi that was removed.

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And let’s not forget the flowers…the zinnias looked especially cheerful at the ends of the beds:

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A few more pics of some of the harvest from just one of the beds…

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Our gardeners should be proud of the work they did here during this season…showing up for 11 weeks to garden has really paid off!

For my usual final pic of the garden, I experimented with a panoramic pic from my iPhone (most of these pics are taken with a Canon SX700HS–small enough to clip on a backpack or belt, but takes fantastic pics.)

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My bonus picture myself is of one of the experimental plots in the CVG…this one has kale in it this season. This particular garden area is one of my favorites…the neat rows of plants, good walking areas between the rows. Each season it changes depending on what is being tested out, but it reminds me of the old potagers, or kitchen gardens, which I have been reading about lately. Go ahead and google either of those terms and enjoy reading about them yourself.  Oh, and while I’m on the topic of reading–I’d like to point you to the Bexar County Extension website.  As Master Gardeners in Bexar County, we are certified horticultural volunteers for the Texas Agri-Life A&M Extension Service, and our local county extension website is a fantastic resource for information about a variety of topics including gardening, food science, pest management, and 4-H.

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Lyn

Lyn Komada, Bexar County Master Gardeners