Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP): Week 4 (March 12, 2016)

sp16w4.maintAs usual, we started with our routine checks: making sure our existing plants are healthy, checking for bugs, and weeding. It’s so much easier to remove smaller weeds than larger ones. Keeping the soil lightly raked where you haven’t planted keeps it from hardening so water/rain will drain better.

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Then we moved on to planting. We do a mixture of plants and seeds at the CVG, and this time we did both. We started out planting four bronze-leaved ‘Whopper’ begonias that will bloom with red flowers. These were baby plug size, meaning they were smaller than the usual transplants, so we needed to handle them very carefully.  Why plant flowers in a vegetable garden?  Flowers attract pollinators like bees, so the more flowers the better. Also, esthetically, it looks pretty.  Consider mixing a few flowers in your veggie beds, or a few veggies in your flower beds!

Do you like yellow squash? I really enjoy it sautéed with zucchini, onion, and garlic, and some spices—really nice over rice. Yellow squash was the next to be planted—4 seeds, spaced apart as directed in the agenda. Why do we grow a mix of seeds and plants. Well, it’s good for our gardeners to learn how to plant both, and some plants—like yellow squash—will grow very easily from seed. Our squash seeds were planted very shallow, with the points just under the soil level, and remaining so after watering.

Finally, we planted pepper transplants – ‘Yellow Banana’ and ‘Sweet Bell’ pepper varieties.   Have you noticed how much more expensive the colorful (red/yellow/orange/brown/purple/etc) bell peppers are compared with the green ones? That’s because the green ones are picked earlier, so less money is spent by the farmer in watering, fertilizing, and occupying space with the plants. All of the colorful ones were green at some point in their life. Left on the plant longer to develop color, they are also sweeter and have higher amounts of vitamins. So if you can, leave your bell peppers on long enough for them to change color and be fully mature! They taste fine in their green stage too.  Once planted, we put cages over our peppers to help support them as they grow and produce peppers.

Once again, our plantings were a great opportunity for our gardeners to use their math and measuring skills to make sure the plants are planted the right distance apart from each other and existing plantings, per the agenda instructions.

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It’s important to space plants the right distance apart. Too close, and they can have airflow issues that can lead to diseases like mildew. To far apart and space is wasted. Different plants have different spacing requirements. Whether you buy seeds or plants, there will be information telling you how to space the plants. (Our agenda also has spacing information for our garden, if you are following along. Yes, I know how difficult it is to thin out seeds (been there, done that) but you’ll have healthier plants and better produce if you do.

Here’s the weekly view of our garden (yes, we are still keeping our tomatoes wrapped up, but we do unwrap them each week to check each plant):

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See you next week!

Lyn

Lyn Komada, Bexar County Master Gardeners

A big thank you to Alexis Moreno, Bexar County Master Gardener intern, for taking the pictures for this post!

Bonus Picture… bet you never in a million years thought I’d pick a picture of an INSECT for my bonus picture. Alexis’s photo of this swallowtail butterfly caterpillar in the dill bed at the CVG was just too nice to pass up. Click here to read an interesting article from the Texas Butterfly Ranch about swallowtail butterflies and see a picture of the beauty this caterpillar will turn into. Enjoy!

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