Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP): Week 7 (April 2nd, 2016)

Green plants, blue skies, colorful flowers…it’s a great time of year to be in South Texas. It’s been a busy first six weeks getting our seeds and transplants in, so we took it easy on Week 7. Well, not really, but we have transitioned more into the maintenance phase of our garden.

**Now, if you’re thinking that you’ve missed the window to plant a vegetable garden of your own, you’ll be happy to hear that you still can. Just click here and check out the handy guide to what varieties of spring vegetables to plant and when to plant them. There’s a lot you can you can plant now!**

Our tomatoes were unwrapped today for the rest of the season, and we carefully folded up the wraps and packed it away for the Fall season. We looked them over carefully for bugs and trimmed away leaves that were touching the soil.

We also checked to see if any of the lower cabbage leaves were shading the begonias, and removed the leaves.   If any of our seeds had not sprouted (beans, squash) we replanted, and we also replaced transplants that needed replacing.  Remember to read our Spring 2016 AGENDA 7 if you want all the details of what we did.

The potatoes have started to bloom—the red ones, at least:

s16w7.redPotatoFlower

Guess what color the flower of the white potatoes will be?

The potato plants needed to be ‘dirted up’ so we spent some time doing that. If you remember, there was a hill of soil between our two rows of potatoes. We took soil from that hill and mounded it at the base of the potato plants, on both sides of the row:

s16w7.dirting.up.potato

This was a two person job, with one person holding the plants up and the other person moving the soil in. Doing this increases the yield by providing more underground space for the potatoes forming off the main stem.   It also keep the plants more upright and from sprawling into the walkways. Since we had depleted it, we added more material to our hill between the potato rows from the compost pile in the back area.   We have the luxury of having a compost pile behind a privacy fence in the maintenance area of the CVG. Our gardeners are encouraged to add compostable material from home (eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds, vegetable bits and pieces, etc) as well as compost material like spent flowers from their beds.

Our compost is coarse, and to avoid bringing large clumps of material back to the beds, our volunteers screen the compost into wheelbarrows. Here’s two of our volunteers screening compost:

s16w7.siftingCompost

The green beans are planted very neatly and are growing well:

s16w7.beans

The rest of the plants…peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, etc, look much the same as last week—just larger!—so let’s have a look at the test beds instead.   At the Children’s Vegetable Garden, we have some beds dedicated to growing a particular plant. Often, we are testing a particular variety, collecting seed (or both). Here’s a new bed that I’ve been taking pictures of weekly…guess what it is? I’ll tell you in a few weeks, when it gets taller (and you’ll be able to guess by then too!)

s16w7.corn

Here’s sage and dill beds, both of which are flowering:

There are also other flowers blooming near the CVG. The bluebonnets are lovely, and the area outside our white picket fence, along the walkway, is planted with young ‘Whopper’ begonias. They are already blooming and the flowers are, well, whoppers!

All these flowers, in addition to being ornamental, serve to attract insect pollinators to the garden. Consider planting flowers near or with your vegetables for the same reasons.

There is also an area for ‘Natchez’ blackberries. These are a thornless, Texas Superstar variety, and netting was recently added around them to protect the crop.

s16w7.blackberryNetting

You can tell how this mockingbird feels about the netting, can’t you?

s16w7.mockingbird

Blackberries grow very well here and I heartily recommend that you put in a thornless variety like Natchez if you want to plant them. There is a thorny blackberry patch at my house and while it is productive, I do get scratched up when I pick them. Click here for a useful article on growing blackberries. and here to read more about Texas Superstar ‘Natchez’.

The purple martins were very active today, swooping around in the air above the garden. We have two purple martin houses at the CVG; here is one of them:

s16w7.martins1

Here are some of the residents (click on a picture to enlarge it):

In addition to hands-on gardening, the children participating in the CVGP have educational opportunities. They attend Junior Master Gardener educational sessions each week starting at about week 6, and there are teaching opportunities with their sections as well. Here Sandra is teaching her section about identifying bugs:

s16w7.teaching

A look at our garden at the end of the day, looking towards the Sunday house:

s16w7.EndOfDay

You can see more of the garden/plants now that the tomatoes are uncovered!

Talk to you soon,

Lyn

Lyn Komada, Bexar County Master Gardeners

Bonus Picture!  

I took a LOT of pictures of the purple martins. I think this one was wondering who the crazy lady with the camera was.

s16w7.bonusCloseup

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